Well, I will not complain about extra service fees and attraction fees, After all, they mention them on the website. I will not complain about the Chinese restaurants, where we exclusively stopped for dinners. After all, you can get some decent food there, some soup maybe and some decent peace of meat. The funny thing is that the guide actually made it look like he was carefully selecting dining places for us.
There were, however, many things why I will never ever choose this tour operator in the future.
1. Locked toilet. I am not buying any excuses. If you state that you provide a bus with a toilet, you MUST DO THAT. And it MUST be a toilet that works properly even when 50 people crap in it for 3 days.
2. Constant rush and stress. Yes, the guides are on strict itinerary. What you should know that the itinerary is badly balanced and includes shorter stops for attractions, than toilet stops. Our stop at the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia lasted for 40 minutes. The guide said that we can not see the bell because there was a long line at the entrance and we would not make it. But we could take pictures from the outside through the glass. But the same morning we had a 100 minutes stop at the Lincoln memorial in Washington, where the group has aimlessly wondered for the last 40 minutes or so. The last day was a non-stop marathon.
3. The guide collected 10$ admission fee for the Niagara Power Vista Plant, which has actually free admission. He motivated it by saying that they the company requires them to do so. I still don’t get what we paid for.
4. And finally – the guide himself. I have not seen the likes of such an unprofessional and terrible guide who can make the trip to a complete disaster. And yes, I am hanging him out. His name is Mars (at least that was how he introduced himself, don’t know whether this was his real name, or he had a different Chinese name).
a) We had an international crowd with just a couple of Chinese people, but the guide barely spoke any comprehensible English. When he did, he overused the words “all right”, saying it in the beginning of each sentence, in the end, and instead of any punctuation marks in that particular sentence. It was weird in the beginning, funny in the middle of the trip, but at the end of the final day all the “all rights” burned a hole in my brain the size of Chinatown.
b) The movies. The guide said “sit back, relax and enjoy the movie, all right”. In the first day he let us see “A 40-year old virgin” or something. The movie contains a lot of obscene language, gestures and scenes, and was hardly appropriate for a couple of pre-teen kids in the group. Well, we saw almost the whole movie, before Mars switched it off. He excused himself by saying that he did not know the movie was not appropriate, and he himself was sleeping. The next day he put on the Avengers and Transformers with what it felt like, all sequels ever made. This movies are all the same, they have the same plot, which involves non-stop shooting, screaming, screeching, howling, glass-shattering, bomb-exploding and so on for at least one and a half hour. And there is no escape, the tv-screens and the high volume are in your face.
In the last day he tried to turn on some movie, but completely failed to synchronize English speech with English subtitles, and instead we were getting different combinations of Mandarin and French. In his despair he switched of the movie and turned on Avatar instead, in French needless to mention.
c) But these things were not the worst things Mars did. When the tour was over, we were dropped off in Chinatown and were trying to catch a cab to go to our hotel. Our hotel turned out to be on the other side of the Lincoln tunnel in New Jersey. It was a 15 minutes ride, but for some reasons New York cab drivers don’t know a squat about Jersey, and no one could take us there. So imagine us standing there, it’s night, it’s Chinatown, we are exhausted, have lots of luggage standing on the curb, and cabdrivers refuse to take us to our hotel because they don’t know the way and say that it is at least a hundred of miles there. And then I spot Mars, who had not left with the bus yet. I ask him if he could find the phone number to the hotel, or google driving directions on his cell phone, or something. He said that we should have asked him earlier, and now he has no time to help us. So he left us standing there. Me, my pregnant wife and my 12-year old daughter, with 3 large suitcases and some carry-on luggage, at 9 o’clock in the evening in the cold in the completely unknown to us Chinatown. Finally we managed to find the way.
All in all, at the end we were exhausted and appalled. The bright spots of the trip was whatever happened outside the bus. Everything on the bus was a disaster, the guide specifically. Except for the bus driver, who was very professional and managed to get us safely to the Niagara falls through a very heavy snowstorm. Never ever Tours4fun, that was no fun.