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POLAR BEAR ENCOUNTERS

Price from
US$4,059
(per person)
Duration
8
Days
Tour Type
Small Group

HIGHLIGHTS

Unique Arctic wildlife, pristine wilderness landscapes, Zodiac boat trips, chance to see polar bear, spectacular fjord & glaciers
COUNTRIES : Arctic

This 8-day tour takes you on a cruise around the north of Spitsbergen Island, largest of the Svalbard Archipelago. We'll enjoy beautiful polar landscapes whilst sailing through iceberg filled fjords. The specially converted expedition vessel allows us to get close up and personal to the abundance of interesting and colourful flora & fauna of the Arctic.

This Arctic expedition starts in Longyearbyen on the remote Norwegian island of Spitsbergen with a short tour of this interesting mining town. Boarding either the m/v Plancius or the m/v Ortelius we cruise north along the west coast of the island stopping first at Raudfjord a beautiful fjord dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by ringed and bearded seals. Continuing north into the mouth of Liefdefjorden, there is the possibility to get close to the 5km long Monaco glacier and hopefully catch a glimpse of polar bear. Heading north again we cruise into the Hinlopen Strait, home to Bearded Seals, Ringed Seals, Polar Bears, and Ivory Gulls. Still sailing north we'll reach Phippsøya, our northernmost point at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Retracing our route we head back along the west coast of Spitsbergen. We sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden and land at Alkhornet. Finally we cruise back into Longyearbyen where the cruise ends.

Arrive in Longyearbyen, the administrative capital of the Spitsbergen archipelago of which West Spitsbergen is the largest island. Before embarking there is an opportunity to stroll around this former mining town, whose parish church and Polar Museum are well worth visiting, while in the surrounds of Longyearbyen, more than 100 species of plant have been recorded. In the early evening the ship will sail out of Isfjorden.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Expedition vessel
  • MEALS:
    Dinner
  • EXTRAS:
    Cabin upgrade (ARSGPB)

We visit Raudfjord on the north coast of West Spitsbergen, beautiful fjords dominated by spectacular glaciers and favoured by Ringed and Bearded Seal and where we often sea Polar Bear. The cliffs and shoreline of the fjord also support thriving seabird colonies and a surprisingly rich vegetation, which flourishes in sheltered spots.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Expedition vessel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Depending on the weather we may sail into Liefdefjord to marvel at the massive, 5km long, face of the Monaco Glacier. This precipitous wall of ice is a favourite feeding place for thousands of kittiwakes, and polar bears can sometimes be seen.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Expedition vessel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

We push east towards the Hinlopen Strait, which is home to polar bears, ringed & bearded seals, and ivory gulls. You may even spot blue whales here if you're lucky. We'll take to the Zodiacs to cruise amongst the ice floes of Lomfjordshalvoya and explore the cliffs at Alkerfjellet, where thousands of Brunnich's guillemots reside. We may attempt a landing on the east side of the Hinlopen Strait where it is possible to see reindeer, walrus, pink-footed geese and ivory gulls.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Expedition vessel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today we will reach our northernmost point at Phippsoya, in the Seven Islands north of Nordaustlandet, if weather permits. Here we will be at 81 degrees north, just 540 miles from the geographic North Pole. Polar Bear inhabit this region, along with Ivory Gull.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Expedition vessel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Retracing our route westwards, our route takes us through and along the pack ice, keeping watch for Polar Bear and the elusive Greenland Whale (Bowhead). About 40 nautical miles west of Spitsbergen we sail along the edge of the continental shelf, where Fin Whale forage in summer in the upwellings along the Spitsbergen banks. At the mouth of the Kongsfjord we have also good chances to see Minke Whale.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Expedition vessel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In Forlandsundet at Sarstangen, our next stop, there is a haul out place for Walrus. Alternatively we sail into St. Johns Fjord or south to the mouth of Isfjorden and land at Alkhornet. Seabirds nest on its cliffs and Arctic Fox search the cliff base for fallen eggs and chicks, while Spitsbergen Reindeer graze the relatively luxuriant vegetation. At nighttime we arrive in Longyearbyen.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    Expedition vessel
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Return to Longyearbyen and disembark ready for flights to Oslo and home.

  • OVERNIGHT:
    N/A
  • MEALS:
    Breakfast
Included:
  • Voyage aboard the indicated vessel as indicated in the itinerary
  • All meals throughout the voyage aboard the ship including snacks, coffee and tea
  • All transport in private vehicles
  • All shore excursions and activities throughout the voyage by Zodiac
  • Program of lectures by noted naturalists and leadership by experienced expedition staff
  • Free use of rubber boots and snowshoes
  • AECO fees and governmental taxes
  • All miscellaneous service taxes and port charges throughout the programme
  • Comprehensive pre-departure material

Excluded:
  • International flights (can be arranged on request)
  • Visas
  • Arrival/departure airport transfers
  • Hotel accommodation in Longyearben if required
  • Travel insurance (compulsory)
  • Optional activities
  • Departure taxes
  • Tips
  • Meals, drinks & snacks not mentioned in the itinerary
  • Any other items not mentioned in the itinerary

Notes:

Note: This itinerary is for guidance only. Programs may vary depending on local ice and weather conditions, the availability of landing sites and opportunities to see wildlife. The final itinerary will be determined by the Expedition Leader on board. Flexibility is paramount for expedition cruises. The average cruising speed for M/V Ortelius is 10.5 knots.

Polar Bear Encounters accommodation
The hotels and accommodations listed below are the ones we use most often on this tour. From time to time we may exchange these for similar properties at the same level. In general, specific hotels cannot be guaranteed on our group tours, but you may select your preferred options if you are booking a tailor-made trip.
mv-plancius-antarctica.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
m/v Plancius
Longyearbyen, Arctic

With 53 cabins accommodation up to 110 passengers, this expedition vessel is comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxury vessel.


Specifications
Passengers: 116 in 53 cabins
Staff & crew: 45
Length: 89 meters (293 feet)
Breadth: 14.5 meters (47 feet)
Draft: 5 meters (16 feet)
Ice class: 1D (Plancius has a Lloyds class notation 100A1 Passenger ship, Ice Class 1D at a draught of 5 meters)
Displacement: 3434 tonnes
Propulsion: 3x Diesel-Electric
Speed: 10 - 12 knots maximum
Plancius deck plan: download pdf

History of Plancius
​M/v "Plancius" was built in 1976 as an oceanographic research vessel for the Royal Dutch Navy and was named "Hr. Ms. Tydeman". The ship sailed for the Dutch Navy until June 2004 and was eventually privately purchased. The vessel was completely rebuilt as a 116-passenger vessel in 2009 and complies with the latest SOLAS-regulations (Safety Of Life At Sea). M/v "Plancius" is classed by Lloyd's Register in London and flies the Dutch flag.

Perfect for any expedition
M/v "Plancius" accommodates 116 passengers in 53 passenger cabins with private toilet and shower in 4 quadruple porthole cabins, 2 triple porthole cabins, 9 twin porthole cabins, 26 twin cabins with window and 2 twin deluxe cabins, all (ca. 15 square meters) and 10 twin superior cabins (ca. 21 square meters). All cabins offer lower berths (one queen-size bed in the superior cabins and two single beds in the twin cabins), except for the 4 quadruple cabins (for 4 persons in 2x upper and lower beds), and 2 triple cabins (1 bunk bed plus 1 lower bed).

Plancius: a vessel with comfort and character
The vessel offers a restaurant/lecture room on deck 3 and a spacious observation lounge (with bar) on deck 5 with large windows, offering full panorama view. M/v "Plancius" has large open deck spaces (with full walk-around possibilities on deck 3), giving excellent opportunities to enjoy the scenery and wildlife. She is furthermore equipped with 10 Mark V zodiacs, including 40 HP 4-stroke outboard engines and 2 gangways on the starboard side, guaranteeing a swift zodiac operation. M/v "Plancius" is comfortable and nicely decorated, but is not a luxury vessel. Our voyages in the Arctic and Antarctic regions are and will still be primarily defined by an exploratory educational travel programme, spending as much time ashore as possible. This vessel will fully meet our demands to achieve this. The vessel is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion system which reduces the noise and vibration of the engines considerably. The 3 diesel engines generate 1.230 horse-power each, giving the vessel a speed of 10 - 12 knots. The vessel is ice-strengthened and was specially built for oceanographic voyages. M/v "Plancius" is manned by 17 nautical crew, 19 hotel staff (6 chefs, 1 hotel manager, 1 steward-barman and 11 stewards / cabin cleaners), 7 expedition staff in Antarctica (1 expedition leader and 6 guides/lecturers), for the Arctic we will have 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 7 guides/lecturers) and 1 doctor.

Age and Nationality
Passengers on a typical voyage range from their 30s to their 80s - with a majority usually from 45 - 65. Our expeditions attract independent-minded travellers from around the world. They are characterised by a strong interest in exploring remote regions. The camaraderie and spirit that develops aboard is an important part of the expedition experience. Many departures have several nationalities on board.

Dress code
In keeping with our expeditions atmosphere, dress on board is informal. Bring casual and comfortable clothing for all activities. Keep in mind that much of the spectacular scenery can be appreciated from deck, which can be slippery. Bring sturdy shoes with no-slip soles and make sure the parka is never far away in case of the call "Whales!" comes over the loudspeaker and you have to dash outside. Wear layers since it is comfortably warm aboard the ship - and often cold on deck.

Gratuities
The customary gratuity to the ship's service personnel is made as a blanket contribution at the end of the voyage which is divided among the crew. You will receive detailed guidelines aboard. Tipping is a very personal matter and the amount you wish to give is at your discretion. As a generally accepted guideline, we suggest US$8 to US$10 per person per day. It is better for the crew, if we can give them cash US Dollar.

Non-smoking policy
On board our vessels we have a non-smoking policy. It is prohibited to smoke inside the ship. You can smoke on deck but do not throw your cigarette filter overboard ! Do not smoke on the aft deck in the proximity of zodiacs, engines and fuel. Please respect the wishes of non-smokers.

Your physical condition
You must be in good general health and you should be able to walk several hours per day. The expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding. Although we spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. To join most excursions, you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in and out of the boats. This will become progressively easier with practice. Ashore it can be slippery and rocky. You are travelling in remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, so you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition, or need daily medical treatment.

ortelius-arctic.jpg
Local rating
Our rating
m/v Ortelius
Longyearbyen, Arctic

Ortelius is a great expedition vessel with lots of open-deck spaces and a very large bridge which is accessible to the passenger. It offers a comfortable hotel standard, with two restaurants and a bar/lecture room.


Specifications
Passengers: 116 in 53 cabins
Staff & crew: 47
Length: 91.25 meters
Breadth: 17.61 meters
Draft: 5.8 meters
Ice class: UL1 (Equivalent to 1A)
Displacement: 4575 tonnes
Propulsion: 6 ZL 40/48 SULZER
Speed: 14.3 knots maximum
Ortelius deck plan: download pdf

History of Ortelius
"Ortelius" was built in Gdynia, Poland in 1989, was named "Marina Svetaeva", and served as a special purpose vessel for the Russian Academy of Science. The vessel is re-flagged and renamed "Ortelius". "Ortelius" is classed by Lloyd's Register in London and flies the Cyprus flag. As Plancius, Ortelius was a Dutch / Flemish cartographer. Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) published the first modern world atlas, theTheatrum Orbis Terrarum or Theatre of the World in 1570. At that time, the atlas was the most expensive book ever printed.

Perfect for any expedition
The vessel has the highest ice-class notation (UL1 equivalent to 1A) and is therefore very suitable to navigate in solid one-year sea ice and loose multi-year pack ice. "Ortelius" is a great expedition vessel for 116 passengers with lots of open-deck spaces. The vessel is manned by 20 highly experienced international nautical crew, 19 international hotel crew, including stewardesses, 7 expedition staff in Antarctica (1 expedition leader and 6 guides/lecturers), for the Arctic we will have 8 expedition staff (1 expedition leader and 7 guides/lecturers) and 1 doctor.

Ortelius: a vessel with comfort and character
"Ortelius" offers a comfortable hotel standard, with two restaurants, a bar/lecture room. Our voyages are primarily developed to offer our passengers a quality exploratory wildlife program, trying to spend as much time ashore as possible. As the number of passengers is limited to approximately 116 on the "Ortelius", flexibility assures maximum wildlife opportunities. "Ortelius" carries 11 zodiacs of which 9 are in use and 2 on reserve. The zodiac engines are 60hp Yamaha.

Age and Nationality
Passengers on a typical voyage range from their 30s to their 80s - with a majority usually from 45 - 65. Our expeditions attract independent-minded travellers from around the world. They are characterised by a strong interest in exploring remote regions. The camaraderie and spirit that develops aboard is an important part of the expedition experience. Many departures have several nationalities on board.

Dress code
In keeping with our expeditions atmosphere, dress on board is informal. Bring casual and comfortable clothing for all activities. Keep in mind that much of the spectacular scenery can be appreciated from deck, which can be slippery. Bring sturdy shoes with no-slip soles and make sure the parka is never far away in case of the call "Whales!" comes over the loudspeaker and you have to dash outside. Wear layers since it is comfortably warm aboard the ship - and often cold on deck.

Gratuities
The customary gratuity to the ship's service personnel is made as a blanket contribution at the end of the voyage which is divided among the crew. You will receive detailed guidelines aboard. Tipping is a very personal matter and the amount you wish to give is at your discretion. As a generally accepted guideline, we suggest US$8 to US$10 per person per day. It is better for the crew, if we can give them cash US Dollar.

Non-smoking policy
On board our vessels we have a non-smoking policy. It is prohibited to smoke inside the ship. You can smoke on deck but do not throw your cigarette filter overboard ! Do not smoke on the aft deck in the proximity of zodiacs, engines and fuel. Please respect the wishes of non-smokers.

Your physical condition
You must be in good general health and you should be able to walk several hours per day. The expedition is ship-based and physically not very demanding. Although we spend as much time as possible ashore, you are welcome to remain aboard the ship if you like. To join most excursions, you must be able to get up and down the steep gangway from the ship to the water level to board the Zodiacs. Staff will assist you in and out of the boats. This will become progressively easier with practice. Ashore it can be slippery and rocky. You are travelling in remote areas without access to sophisticated medical facilities, so you must not join this expedition if you have a life-threatening condition, or need daily medical treatment.

Polar Bear Encounters options

Our tours are designed to include all that you need to enjoy a really special time in the destination you're visiting. However, we do also offer some extra options to complement the tour and add some additional sightseeing or activities, or some extra time at either end of the tour.

All accommodation based options (e.g. Single supplements, extra nights, cruise upgrades) should be booked and paid for in advance so that we can make the appropriate arrangements. Other options may either be booked and paid for in advance or while you are on the tour, though we recommend booking in advance to ensure there are no issues with availability.

Many options are priced the same throughout the year, but some may incur single or high season supplements - full details are given on the tour reservation form or on request.

Cabin upgrade (ARSGPB)
Price from
On
Request

per person



Cabin upgrade (ARSGPB)
Min numbers: 1 person

The 'from' price showing on this tour is based on the most economical way to join the cruise, staying in a shared 4-berth porthole cabin with other travellers. Other cabin types are also available for a supplement.


The 'from' price showing on this tour is based on the most economical way to join the cruise, staying in a shared 4-berth porthole cabin with other travellers. Other cabin types are also available for a supplement, including:

  • Shared triple porthole
  • Shared twin porthole
  • Shared twin window
  • Twin Deluxe
  • Superior

All these cabins are also available to book privately so you and any travel companions have the whole cabin to yourself.

To request more information regarding cabin upgrades and pricing you can either contact us or add your request to the Notes section during your online booking.

polar-bear-encounters-map.jpg
Polar Bear Encounters tour notes

The detailed Tour Notes below have been written to give you some more detailed information about how the tour runs, what to expect, and how to prepare for your holiday. We recommend downloading an up to date copy of these shortly before you travel in case of any changes.

If you would like to book a place on this tour, please complete the online reservation form on our website (via the Dates & Prices tab on the tour page). You may make a deposit or full payment online, or just hold a reservation if you prefer (full payments are due 8 weeks before departure). We will then contact you with more details about how to complete your booking. Payments may be made by debit or credit card (subject to a card processing fee), or by making a bank transfer, or posting us a cheque/bank draft. Full details will be provided in your booking confirmation email. Please contact us if you would like any more information or have any questions before making a booking.

We are a UK registered company and an ABTA Member (Y4447) and you can be confident when booking with us that your money is safe and protected.
If you book a flight departing from the UK from us with your tour, or if you live in the UK and your tour includes domestic flights, then your entire package is ATOL protected by the Civil Aviation Authority. Our ATOL number is 10467.
Additional financial failure insurance is also provided through Affirma to protect all customers not otherwise covered by ATOL.
Please see our website or booking conditions for more information.

It is impossible not to have an impact on the local environment, cultures and eco-systems when you travel. However, it is very possible to try and ensure that these impacts are as limited, or positive as possible. We are committed to ensuring that we try to leave our host countries in a better state than we found them and encourage and assist our travellers to help us with this.
The following are a few simple tips that require very little effort on your part but which will help ensure that any effect you have on the locations you visit is positive rather than negative.

  • Don't prejudge: Things in different countries will almost certainly be different. That doesn’t make them worse or inferior, just different.
  • Communicate: Don't expect locals to speak your language. Take the trouble to learn a few words or phrases of the local language. Don't worry about sounding silly. Most locals are patient and accommodating and appreciate you making the effort to communicate in their language.
  • Conserve energy: Be careful not to waste valuable resources. Use local resources sparingly. Switch off lights, air-conditioning and fans when you leave the hotel room and don't waste water. Remove superfluous packaging. Many countries have far less efficient waste disposal systems than ours. Remove packaging from newly acquired items before leaving home.
  • Don't litter: No matter how untidy or dirty the country you’re travelling in may look to you, avoid littering, as there is no need to add to the environment's stress. Many of the countries we visit have a tough challenge dealing with rubbish and waste. Please consider taking home as much plastic waste as you can (e.g. water bottles).
  • Choose environmentally friendly products: By using environmentally friendly (bio degradable) sun creams, shampoos and detergents you can help reduce pollution.
  • Respect local customs and traditions: As you are a guest in these countries, you should also comply with the local customs. If you are friendly and well mannered, the locals will reciprocate and it will only enhance your experience. It's important to follow dress and behaviour guidelines especially when visiting religious or sacred sites (your tour leader will advise you how best to do this).
  • If a client commits an illegal act the client may be excluded from the tour and Encounters Travel shall cease to have responsibility to/for them. No refund will be given for any unused services.

All porters are employed and equipped following guidelines set by the International Porter Protection Group (IPPG).

You can stay in touch with us online by following us on Facebook and Twitter. We post updates on relevant travel news in our destination countries, special offers and discounts and other interesting travel related news and information.
www.facebook.com/encounterstravel
www.twitter.com/encounterstravl (yes, without the 'e')

Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our tours and needs to cover personal accident & liability, medical expenses and repatriation, travel delay & abandonment. We also strongly recommend that you take out cover against cancellation and lost/stolen baggage. Personal medical insurance does not normally provide sufficient cover and is generally not suitable for travel on our tours. You will not be able to join your tour if you have not provided us with details of your insurance or if you arrive without cover in place (no refunds will be due in this event). More information...

You may arrange your own insurance, or you can take advantage of a comprehensive policy that we can arrange for you through Endsleigh Insurance which has been designed to be suitable for our tours. The policy is available to travellers of all nationalities and you do not need to live in the UK  to take out the policy. For full details of cover provided, prices and to apply for one of our policies, please complete travel insurance application form.

Note: Any country that borders the Mediterranean is considered as 'Europe' for the purposes of travel insurance (including Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco). If you are doing a tour that visits one country in 'Europe' and one that is 'Worldwide' (for example, an Egypt and Jordan tour), then you need a 'Worldwide' policy. When completing the form you should enter your travel dates including any extra days involved in overnight flights or connecting travel between your home and the tour. Our policies are not able to cover any extra time or activities other than your tour and options booked with us and your travel to & from home.

If you plan to arrange a hot air balloon flight locally, or do some scuba diving during your tour, you should check the small print in your policy to make sure these are covered (these are covered in our policy). Please also check the maximum altitude that you will be reaching and that full cover including emergency evacuation is provided up to this altitude.

If you are taking expensive camera gear or other electronic equipment with you then please check the coverage and the fine print of your policy to ensure that you have sufficient cover.

IMPORTANT:  We must have your travel insurance details (policy number and type of insurance) before you depart or you may not be allowed to join the tour.  If you haven't told us already, please let us know the details when you can. You should take a paper copy of your insurance policy with you as you may be asked to show this at the start of the tour.

It is important when considering and preparing to travel anywhere in the world that you have a good understanding of the country you are visiting, its laws and customs, and the possible risks and situations that may occur. This includes specific risks related to your itinerary (eg. does it involve water & can you swim, are you fit enough for the activities included), as well as more general risks such as terrorism and natural disasters.

General details and links to more information about health risks, visa requirements, money, and travel insurance are given in these tour notes. We recommend that you re-read all these before your departure as well as the small print of your travel insurance policy so you know exactly what is covered and what is not.

You should take copies of your important travel documents with you and ideally also store them online securely as a backup. Make sure that you have given us your emergency contact details and told that person where and when you are travelling. Ensure you take enough money with you and that you have access to emergency funds.

Finally, you should read through and stay updated with the current official government travel advice for your destination. We are registered partners with the UK Foreign Office's 'Travel Aware' campaign which provides further useful and invaluable information.

'Travel Aware' campaign

Polar Bear Encounters dates & prices
Prices are per person based on sharing a 4-berth porthole cabin. Prices for sharing triple porthole, twin porthole and twin window cabins, or a completely private cabin are also available on request.
Start Date End Date Price (P/P) Offer Price Note
29 May, 2018 05 Jun, 2018 US$4059 - m/v Ortelius  
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04 Jun, 2018 11 Jun, 2018 US$4899 - m/v Plancius  
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05 Jun, 2018 12 Jun, 2018 US$5529 - m/v Ortelius  
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12 Jun, 2018 19 Jun, 2018 US$6019 - m/v Ortelius  
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15 Jun, 2018 22 Jun, 2018 US$6439 - m/v Plancius  
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19 Jun, 2018 26 Jun, 2018 US$7239 - m/v Ortelius  
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22 Jun, 2018 29 Jun, 2018 US$4059 - m/v Plancius  
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29 Jun, 2018 06 Jul, 2018 US$4059 - m/v Plancius  
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Encounters Travel Reviews
Service

Product

Posted Feb 04, 2016
excellent tour. bit pricey for a cheap third world county. by nature of tour we were always taken to tourist rip-off shops and not the cheap local markets etc. it was very obvious that the tour guide was getting a backhand payment and commission for taking us to all these tourist rip-off shops. too much time spent in shops, and there was no time limit on it, yet we had strict instructions and time limits when visiting temples etc. that was the worst aspect of the holiday.
Service

Posted Aug 15, 2015
Service rating : Very good value for money, and a very informative & educational trip

Product : Would like to be able to adapt this tour to incorporate further sites of interest in Turkey.
Service

Product

Posted Jan 06, 2016
Service rating : This was a great group with whom to work. Emails were responded to, questions were answered, and everything that they arranged was wonderful! Highly recommend!

Product : I had a great trip! I don't think it would have been half as nice if I hadn't used Encounters!
Service

Product

Posted Feb 18, 2014
Service rating : I have already written to Encounters. Original hotel was awful but they did change the room. Breakfast was still poor. We were supposed to come back to this hotel but encounters did change this.

Big thing was we were in Jordan such an historic country and we had no guide. Good guides at Jerash and Petra. Our driver tried to get more money for the guides even though they were supposed to be included.

Product : See above. Barring the hotel in Amman having a tour guide would have made such a difference.
Service

Posted Apr 15, 2016
Service rating : Waleed our tour guide was beyond fabulous and catered for everyone's needs, nothing was too much for him. The service and information provided prior to the holiday was of an excellent standard and set the scene for the holiday. Being met at the airport upon arrival calmed everyone's nerves and set the standard of support for the remainder of the holiday.

Product : Loved it and was so sad to leave. Such a beautiful country and everyone we met were welcoming, happy to chat and take photo's with and of us.
Service

Product

Posted Jan 06, 2016
Service rating : Fantastic, educated, well organized staff. Friendly.

Product : Great itinerary and fantastic tour guide- Aboudy. It would be better if they planned for more meals. Going 10 hours without food is a bit tough. Also, we loved the felucca ride but please remind the boat staff to provide blankets if they have them on board! More time at each place would be better for photos.
Service

Posted Jan 07, 2016
I've travelled with Encounters twice now, and both times the holiday has been well organised, and well thought out. The staff and guides have all been very professional and helpful.



I'm rating as 'good' rather than 'excellent' because on this latest holiday the extras were sold a bit hard, and we went to a couple too many tourist traps.
Service

Product

Posted Oct 06, 2016
Service rating : Tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and personable. My only issue was, it seemed like staff members were trying to prevent us from being taken advantage of by merchants, however, they would take us to stores, who they clearly had a personal relationship with, and expect us to spend money there.

Product : The time spent with the locals was the most enjoyable portion of the trip. I feel there was entirely too much packed into a short amount of time. The vacation felt more like a school trip as opposed to a vacation. I did not enjoy the 4-5am wake-up calls and obligations during vacation.
Service

Product

Posted Jan 06, 2016
Service rating : Encounters was very professional and made sure we were happy throughout our tour. Sheriff, our tour guide, was amazing - he went out of his way for us several times. He is an expert guide with tons of knowledge. My wife and I had a great time thanks to the people at Encounters Travel.

Product : My wife and I had limited time so the 9-day tour seemed perfect. I still can't believe how many sites we were able to see and activities we were able to experience. Sheriff's knowledge of Egyptian history and sense of humor made this trip informative and fun. We did many of the add-ons so the schedule was hectic, but that's how we like to travel when our time is limited. I especially recommend the hot air balloon and Abu Simbel!
Service

Posted Apr 15, 2016
Quick and full explanations to my queries
Service

Product

Posted Feb 14, 2014
Service rating : I would have put excellent if the communication on the tour was better. I wish there was something between excellent and good.

Product : This may seem contradictory but the experience was so good it overshadowed the hiccups that we experienced. Elroy was an EXCELLENT tour guide, he made our trip so fun and tried hard to please everyone. The Country was beautiful and the activities were great! My only critique is the occasional lack of communication between our guide and the group which seemed to stem from last minute changes to accommodation that he had no control over. Instead of explanations about why we drove into one property then drove out to a new one, we were left wondering. This sparked frustrations especially since the placed were taken to was judged too harshly because of it's outward appearance (It was actually a lovely place to stay and on par or better than other places that we stayed). I knew the nature of the trip and I took the "you are in Africa, things can change" idea to heart so I rolled with the punches but others did not which may have affected how they viewed the entire trip. Overall I had a great time and I have already recommended the tour to others.
Service

Product

Posted Aug 12, 2014
Service rating : Ant Horrobin was extremely helpful throughout the booking process to help us determine which tour we wanted. Beyond the booking I find it difficult to rate Encounters specifically. This tour was provided by a company they contract out to (Fez Travel) which I didn't really know until a few days before the start.

Product : Provided a bunch of feedback to Fez Travel at the end of the tour but will give the cole's notes:

- Was confused when we got into town because the tour was not called "Turkey Encounters" as we purchased but instead "Flying Carpet Tour" run by Fez Travel not Encounters Travel.

- Tour guides were not the ones advertized on the Encounters website but one of Fez' guides.

-Guide was very personable and helpful so far as helping is with what we needed. His English was good enough to this extent however when it came to relaying historical backgrounds of the sites we were visiting his English was only "adequate". He tended to tell us everything he knew (or could communicate) up front and then send us to roam the grounds on our own. I was a little bit envious of some of the tours who had native English speaking guides who were going into more details; especially where dealing with ruins like Ephesus, Aphrodisias, etc.

- On the flip side the local guide got us places I am not sure we would have otherwise visited (i.e, cave family's house).

- Some of the visits to the craft industry shops were awkward. The fashion show / leather stop was out of place (i.e., nobody was interested, the fashion show was a bit contrived, and the sales tactics were a bit agressive given nobody showed any interest in leather).

- All of the hotels were excellent with the exception of one. The Best Western Khan in Antalya does not belong in a higher priced "comfort" tour. It is old and run down. It was the only hotel in which we were given separate beds as a married couple. It also seemed odd that the Istanbul (TRYP by Wyndham) gave us a large room with a nice view on our initial visit (starting the trip) and then a very small room with no window at all on the night before we left (almost as if they were trying to impress us on the way in but it didnt matter so much on the way out after the Fez feedback had already been provided). As a sidenote, the whole selection of Antalya as a two day stop seems poor. There was very little to do in this town and it seemed like more of a stopover required as a result of the time required to get to the next stop in Capadoccia.

- The optional visit to the Turkish bath needs to be better vetted by the tour company and Encounters. The place we were taken to seemed a bit unsanitary and run down. I think we went here because the tour guide knew the family. This should not be a reason for selection of a location. *** - They did not properly separate them men from the women and one of the girls ended up being bathed by one of the male attendants... we were told later that the man was noticably aroused by this exchange which was reported to the tour guide. The tour guide apparently returned and the attendant was summarilly dismissed. I did not let it impact my rating of the tour as the latter bit didnt impact me personally or my wife (other than the cleanliness part) but the fact that that choices in these places is left up to the nepotism/cronyism of specific tour guide is HIGHLY questionable. I would never do something like this again unless it was at a new, clean, and highly rated establishment that I pre-vetted. Sadly I was not given the option to check the location in advance.

- Our bus broke down a couple of times over the course of the tour. Once due to flat tire and once because I believe the clutch or gearbox needed servicing. These resulted in delays and unexpected stops in our itinerary.

- We skipped Ankara as the guide asked us to vote on whether we wanted to get into Istanbul early. We voted for this since we had an early flight the next day. They seemed a litle rushed to get rid of us that day though.



I have brought up a lot of constructive items here but I want to be clear that we did really enjoy the trip and the guide worked very hard to make the tour a good one for the rest of us.