Smartours Jewels of the Adriatic

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Am considering taking this tour next Oct. and wonder if more than half the trip is spent on the bus getting from place to place. Love the itinerary, but wonder if more time is spent on the bus than off. Also, how are the hotels and tour guides. Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.

As you'll soon learn if you search this message board, the subject of smarTours has generated a lot of heat here. Some swear by it and some swear at it, and the heat can make it hard to see the light. I've done two smarTours, though not this cruise, and here's my assessment. Their groups are large--they'll fill a tour bus if they can--and their itineraries are fairly conventional but an excellent introduction to the country or region they visit. On my tours, they used highly-regarded local tour operators and excellent local guides, and the hotels were fine and often the best available. If some of the hotels they use aren't well located, I haven't experienced that. Yes, by all means ask about optional excursions. On my trip to Borneo, they organized a day trip to Brunei for those who wanted it, and on my trip to South Africa, there was a Vic Falls extension. But no extra payments for things mentioned in the itinerary. If you want a personalized tour, look elsewhere. If you want outstanding value for money, consider smarTours, but know what to expect.

Stan, an excellent, balanced assessment of smarTours. I also did their Borneo tour and found it as you described, although an optional tour to Brunei wasn't offered at that time, alas. But the Sultan (is that what's he's called?) of Brunei was staying with his entourage in one of our hotels while we were there. Many people want just what smarTours offers--a good introduction to the country visited (call it "generic" if you wish), with excellent accommodations and knowledgeable guides at a reasonable price,and they certainly should be encouraged to look at smarTours for great value and delivery as promised. I was lucky to have reasonably small groups (21-25) on the smarTours that I've taken, although I know that they, like most of the generalized tours, usually have large groups. My husband and I have traveled for over 40 years, mostly independently; I'm neither a novice nor a shill--I just think this company provides excellent value in its category.

Thanks to all who responded. We took a Smartours trip to S. America last year and, on the whole, were satisfied. Some of the hotels were out the way, others were well located, but all accommodations were good. Guides were all excellent. We used to travel independently, and I do miss it, but my husband and the couple we travel with no longer want to be bothered with all the details of independent travel (even though I did all the planning), so I am outnumbered. Since my husband did the bulk of the driving (even saving the day in Spain when we wound up with a stick-shift even though we reserved an automatic - because he thought he drove a stick-shift once 40 years ago), I have to consider his enjoyment of our vacation. So group travel is the compromise I have to make in order to get to see all the places I want to see. I happen to love this intinerary, since it covers pretty much most of what I would want to cover in this area. I was trying to find out if most of the vacation is spent on the bus, but from what I can figure out, distances are not great as the countries are small. Thanks for any insight you can give on that account.Thanks.

I took this trip a few years ago, and thought iot was excellent. O a free day several travelers went to Venice. Since a few of us had been to Venice previously, we went to Trieste on our own. On a free day in Dubrovnick, a few of us went to Mostar in Bosnia. All hotels on this trip were well located and of excellent quality. For itineraries, leaders, accommodations and overall value, Smartous is hard to beat. On six previous trips the busses were never crowded nor were the groups overly large.