Comfort of an assured departure

One important additional detail about choosing a tour company (Feb. ’05, pg. 58) is finding out if the departure dates are guaranteed! We have had three bad experiences with Globus* (Littleton, CO; 800/221-0090 or www.globus; all three times we have tried to travel with Globus (confirmed, all payments made, etc.), they have canceled within two to three weeks of our departure dates! Their tours may be wonderful, but we have learned our lesson.

The first time was a tour of northern England and Scotland in August ’89, chosen because the dates in Edinburgh came at the time we could go to the Military Tattoo. We had purchased tickets for the Tattoo many months ahead of time, and we chose a tour in order to be sure of having hotel reservations during the busy month of August.

When we were informed that the tour was canceled (although we were offered a tour at another date which was impossible for us), it was one week before we were flying to England and three weeks before the tour departure. It was easy to arrange a BritRail Pass, but it required several transatlantic phone calls to secure alternative reservations for accommodations in Scotland. We ended up doing everything on our own, which was okay. We are used to independent travel.

The second time, we were booked on a Black Sea eclipse cruise out of Athens in August ’99 and wanted to follow the cruise with a Globus tour of Bulgaria and Romania. Again, Globus canceled our paid-up, confirmed tour about a week before we were to leave for the cruise (a month before the tour).

Our travel agent came through with a tour with Balkan Travel & Tours (New York, NY; 888/763-4288 or She had never used them before, but they did have confirmed dates that worked for us. They were wonderful — and we ended up in a “group” of two, having our own wonderful guide, driver and minivan in Bulgaria and our own great guide/driver and private car in Romania! This tour had an itinerary that was even better than the one Globus had offered — another plus.

The third time, we were booked on a cruise from Istanbul to Cape Town which would be followed with a tour of South Africa in February ’01. Again, after having confirmed, paid-up reservations with Globus, our tour was canceled about a month before it was to take place.

Again, our travel agent came through with a great tour, this time with GoWay (Los Angeles, CA; 800/387-8850 or This one had 13 in the group for the first week and eight for the second week — a wonderful tour.

As attractive as some of the Globus tours appear, and many people do recommend them, I doubt that we will ever try them again. Certainly, we will inquire if the departure date is guaranteed.

On an around-the-world trip that we took (independently) in late ’97, we booked a “Temples and Tigers” tour of India with Sita World Travel (Encino, CA; 818/990-9530 or It included the Palace on Wheels train. Sita accommodated some extensions we wanted to make to Ajanta and Ellora as well as one to Varanasi.

After we arrived in India we learned that the basic tour originally had had a dozen people but that an illness had caused 10 people (family members traveling together) to cancel. Our tour went ahead. We had a private car with driver, plus a wonderful guide, throughout our 3½ weeks in India. We had the same private services for the separate trips we had booked with Sita for Nepal (six days) and Vietnam (nine days). They were wonderful!

Guaranteed departure dates make us comfortable. In fact, with all of this special treatment, we have had the best of both worlds: independent travel (we could stop for photos when we wished and have longer or shorter stops at scenic, historic, etc., points of interest during each day’s itinerary) and all arrangements for hotels, flights, etc., made in advance for us. We were spoiled!

Belmont, CA

*Years have passed since Ms. Pex’s experiences with Globus, so ITN wrote to Globus and asked if they now offer any guaranteed departures. The following reply was received.

Thank you for contacting us regarding the letter you received from one of your readers about confidence in Globus departures. While (tour cancellations are) infrequent events, we certainly understand the complications involved with changing travel plans — that’s why the Globus family of brands works so hard to minimize them.

Today, we operate (or “materialize”) more than 80% of the vacations we advertise in our brochures and on our website at the beginning of a given sales year. Of those departures that do not operate, the overwhelming majority are consolidated to other adjacent dates very early in the selling season. When dates are consolidated, most times they do not affect customers, as the likely reason the departure was removed was lack of customer interest in that date.

On average, that leaves only 5% of Globus family customers who are affected by a change in departure date. If we do have to offer a new date to a customer or to their agent, we take all steps necessary to make the move as convenient as possible. All in all, just over one percent of our total passengers cannot be accommodated on an alternate date and, even in those cases, we do our best to recommend an alternative to the customer or to their agent.

This high reliability rate is a crucial part of our operational philosophy. In 2004, we began a concerted effort to lessen the impact of cancellations of advertised vacation departure dates on travel agents and their clients — the Guaranteed Departure program.

So what is a Guaranteed Departure? For Globus, Cosmos and Monograms, it’s just what it says: our commitment that the advertised departure date will operate. While we offer more than 2,000 Guaranteed Departure dates, we by no means want to imply those are the only dates that will operate. It’s just our added level of security to agents and their customers that when travel is booked on those dates, only unforeseen forces outside of our control could prevent them from departing (i.e., for safety reasons in a State Department Travel Warning situation, labor strike, etc.).

Simply stated, we will not cancel a Guaranteed Departure unless a customer is put at risk for being at that destination.

Since we began the program, Globus has offered more guaranteed departures than any other tour operator.

It’s my belief that, through this program, the Globus family of brands is leading the category in efforts to minimize cancellations like those your reader, Ms. Pex, experienced. It’s critical to us that both customers and agents continue to turn to us to remove these travel-related headaches, and not to create them.

STEVE BORN, Director of Marketing, Globus, Cosmos and Monograms, Littleton, CO