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This describes my evaluation of Gate1's "11 Day Athenian with 3-Day Cruise" package in June 2008. Gate1"s contract hotels are not anywhere close to 5 or 4 stars, as advertised. The best, the Royal Olympic in Athens, which is billed as 5 stars, had a single restaurant, not two as advertised, and it was closed for dinner on 2 of the 3 nights I stayed there; so I had to have dinner "poolside," which, because of the temperature, was definitely not my choice. Dinner selections were extremely limited, to essentially one entree per type (chicken, beef, veal, fish, etc.), hardly the mark of a 5-star hotel, and the prices were, in a word, outrageous ... Dinner with house wine for two came in at over 100 Euros in one case and nearly that amount in the other! The remaining hotels are worth perhaps 2 stars for the Europa in Olympia and Amalia in Delphi, and a bare 3 for the Divani in Kalambaka.

The Athens city tour was brief and rushed, included entirely too much "lecturing" by the tour guide in the hot Athens sun and the ferocious wind atop the Acropolis, while not allowing enough time for unhurried photographs, did not include a visit to the fabled National Archaeological Museum, and the afternoon of the second day in Athens was basically wasted, because there would have been ample "at leisure" opportunities to explore the city on the previous (arrival) day, if our flight had arrived as scheduled (see below). However, the first really serious turn-off came when, on June 23, we had to wait in the hot sun for 30 minutes after being dropped off by the hotel pick-up bus at a so-called bus "transfer point" waiting for the tour bus to Olympia ... No seats, no shade, only standing room in the direct sun ... Unacceptable!!!

The overland bus trips of up to 8 hours were incredibly long and boring, with few stops for sightseeing, and some of those included disguised "shopping" opportunities. Once at a major sightseeing destination, visits often seemed too short and hurried, and were scheduled during the midday heat, rather than early mornings or late afternoons. In the case of Olympia and Delphi, visits to air-conditioned museums were scheduled in the morning, while the heat was still bearable, and before the visits to the outdoor archaeological sites, which were scheduled in the full midday heat. It would seem intelligent, considerate, and feasible to reverse the sequence in both cases.

The cruise ship M/V Aquamarine was yet another story. It was billed as 3 stars, yet it was far inferior to ships on which I had taken multi-day river cruises on the Yang Tse in China and the Nile in Egypt. Although I paid for a cabin upgrade and thought I was getting a "superior" outside cabin, I have never been forced to live in anything so small, so sparse, so cheap-looking, and so inconvenient. The tiny portholes were partially painted over! The worst part was the bathroom ... The shower stall was almost too small to turn around in (and I am a quite "normal" 5'10", 172 lbs) ... Flimsy, shabby, without even any bath soap or other amenities. The in-cabin safe didn't work, or at least it didn't work for me. For the first two nights on the ship, there were diesel fumes in the cabin. After I complained to the tour director, they seemed no longer to be present on the 3d night. The restaurants were also not satisfactory to me. The main restaurant, while attractively decorated and featuring white linens and formal place settings, served lukewarm food, and it was almost impossible to get the wine steward's attention. The "Bistro/Pub" looked like a cheap version of a McDonald's, the food on the serving line was habitually cold, one orange juice dispenser did not work, and the only reason we used that facility rather than the main restaurant for breakfast was the ease and speed of self-service versus the incredibly slow service and directed seating in the main restaurant. Then came the shore excursions sold through the cruise ship! First, they were vastly overpriced, even though the tour guides were generally competent and knowledgeable. But up to 59.95 Euros per person for a less than a half-day tour is simply too much for the experience, especially when that experience includes more disguised solicitations/opportunities to shop. In general, the escorted portions of the shore excursions were also limited and brief, with passengers left to "explore" on their own afterwards. This was especially true on Rhodes, where we were literally rushed through the old city/citadel in about one hour. At least another hour should have been allotted for a guided tour of this World Heritage site.

Finally, our experience with Gate1's contract airline, Olympic Airlines! Our outbound flight (OA 412) was originally scheduled to leave JFK at 4:30 PM, on June 20. It finally took to the air at about 1:00 AM, on June 21 ... 8-1/2 hours late, causing us to miss at least a full afternoon of "at leisure" activities in Athens! Similarly, our return flight (OA 411) was scheduled to leave Athens at 11:25 AM, on June 30. It took off over 2 hours late, at about 1:35 PM, almost causing us to miss our connecting flight at JFK. In fairness to the airline, I will note that we were provided a room at the JFK Holiday Inn and two meals on June 20. A word about our connecting flight at JFK (Delta 5619): The plane's air conditioning did not work, and we sat on the tarmac at JFK sweating for over 1 hour because the flight also was late taking off. To add insult to injury, the stewardess served lukewarm water; on request, she added some ice cubes!

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Anonymous
Yadkinville, North Carolina, United States #598998

Hamed is a ***.This is exactly what happens when you do NOT reade all of your travel docs in triplicate before you leave.

Yes Gate 1 made a human error, but the fault is that of the customer for not reading his docs as he was INSTRUCTED TO DO BY THE TRAVEL SELLER.

The kid sounds like a whiny, spoiled brat, also.

Anonymous
#369544

WOW!! Talk about one mess after another. I hope you still were able to at least somewhat enjoy your holiday.

Anonymous
#369225

I agree with another comment that Gate1 provided a budget tour at a deluxe price. The hotels definitely were not as they were rated and I got food poisoning the evening our group ate dinner at one of them. I was VERY disappointed in this tour particularly with respect to the hotels and will not travel with Gate1 again.

Anonymous
Farnley, England, United Kingdom #57600

Frankly, if I had lived through the nighmare that Hamed Tafaghodi and his family endured at the hands of Gate1, I would have engaged a good attorney immediately upon my return home. Perhaps all of us who have commented here and the others whop haven't should consider joining a class action suit again Gate1

Anonymous
#57594

Background:

Back in August 2008, with much enthusiasm and excitement we (my wife Alexis and I) made a reservation for a sight seeing tour to Egypt, from March 16 to 25 , 2009, with GATE1 Travel (10 Day Egypt For Less with 4 Day Nile Cruise). We decided to make an early reservation to make sure that there is ample time for GATE 1 people to provide us with a smooth and seamless itinerary. We planned to enjoy our vacation. We were taking our 10 year old daughter Leona with us. She was very exited to make the overseas journey to the ancient land of Egypt. We trusted GATE1 with our travel arrangement. Having Leona with us we wanted to show her a good time so, we chose GATE 1, based on our successful experience last year to Italy, to make it happen. We gave our hard earned dollars to GATE 1 and trusted GATE 1 with our vacation plans.

In and around February 24, 2009 we received our itinerary by e-mail, we were exited.

Nightmare Begins

On March 16 2009, we flew out of San Francisco to Frankfurt (UA flight 900) , upon landing at around 9:15 am local time we rushed to the gate to make our connecting flight to Cairo that was supposed to be at 10:05 am (UA/9106). To our dismay and shock the airline clerk at the gate counter told us that we are not on the morning flight, but our reservation is for the night flight leaving Frankfurt at 10:48 pm to Cairo. I could not believe it, I showed her the itinerary I had with me (see exhibit 1, pages 3 and 4)...

Here we are at around 9:50 am on March 17, 2009 in Frankfurt, after a long flight (about 11 hours) from San Francisco, we are told that our connecting flight to Cairo is 13 hours later. What a shock. What do we do in Frankfurt Airport for 13 hours with a child ?? There is no lodging and food arrangement from GATE 1 either. We are on our own, we felt betrayed after trusting GATE1 with our travel arrangement. We had no choice but to rough it out and wait 13 hours.

During the layover period in Frankfurt Airport I went over the itinerary. There were three parts (see attached exhibits). The first part containing six pages was clear we were supposed to be on the morning flight (UA 9106) out of Frankfurt. The second part (see exhibit 2) contained all the vouchers and other information consisted of 18 pages, on page 2 it showed that we were supposed to fly to Cairo on the night flight (UA 8910). There was the discrepancy. The third part (see exhibit 3), containing only one page, agreed with the first part. Someone at GATE1 switched us to the night flight without giving us advanced warning without thinking about its ramifications to the rest of the itinerary without providing accommodation in Frankfurt for food and lodging. Someone at GATE 1 was negligent, and because of his/her negligence we were suffering in Frankfurt.

I thought to myself , while consoling Leona who had not gotten over the shock yet , that this long layover means that we would miss the domestic flight from Cairo to Aswan to join the rest of the tour group for the 4 day Nile Cruise starting on March 17, 2009. While the rest of the group was in Cairo, and later in Aswan, we were stranded in Frankfurt Airport. No one in GATE 1 thought it through or made any arrangement that if they put us on the night flight how would the rest of the trip schedule be affected. No one in their right mind would do this to a trusting client. I am appalled by the way GATE 1 handled this reservation.

Around 5 pm local time, I used my cell phone to call GATE 1 in the U.S from Frankfurt. I wanted to know if there would be someone to meet us in Cairo Airport and how would we get to Aswan from Cairo after this 13 hour delay in the schedule. After talking to two clerks and not getting any response (they put me on long holds while trying to find an answer) the last clerk came through and said that she had called Cairo and someone will be there and they will put us on the morning flight to Aswan from Cairo. Good thing I called because no one knew we were behind the schedule until I called, no arrangements were made for us until I called. This is outrageous, irresponsible on the part of GATE 1 and borderline criminal behavior, it is also the right material for Mike Finney, Channel 7 News, or other similar networks.

Nightmare continues

Finally the 13 hour wait was over and we boarded our flight to Cairo. On March 18 , 2009 at around 4:00 am local time we arrived in Cairo. A GATE 1 representative greeted us at the gate, I tried to maintain my composure. He said to us that he had made arrangements to put us on the early flight (around 6:00 am) out of Cairo to Aswan. After retrieving our luggage we were handed over to a second GATE 1 representative and the first person disappeared. Representative no.2 put us in a van to take us to the domestic airport from the international airport. There, a third representative showed up to help representative no.2. They took us to a glass walled office in the domestic airport where the domestic reservations were being made. Representative no.2 seemed to have seniority over representative no.3. After a lengthy cell phone conversation with his boss no.2 told me that his boss is telling him that it is our fault that we missed our flight and we have to pay for our airfare to Aswan. I could not believe what I was hearing. I said in a calm voice, your boss thinks we missed our flight? I showed him our itinerary (exhibits 1 and 2) and pointed to the mix-up and the mess created by GATE 1, all on paper in black and white in front of him. I said to him calmly, your boss is wrong we did not miss our flight GATE1 booked us the night flight instead of the morning flight out of Frankfurt to Cairo. This mess is not ours it is yours it is GATE 1’s .

It is now around 5:00 am in Cairo, some 30 hours since we left San Francisco, stranded in the Cairo domestic airport with two insensitive morons representing GATE 1, who are demanding money in order to book us a flight that we have already paid for. I said how much is it anyway he said for all three it is around 300 Egyptian pounds. I said what Airlines, he said Egypt Air. I was shocked again. I looked at my papers (exhibit 1 page 3) it showed that we paid an extra $789 for Not flying Egypt Air. I said we are not supposed to fly Egypt Air. He said there is no other Airline that flies to Aswan. So, what had we paid $789 extra for, I asked ? The two morons had no explanation for this.

Representative no.2 said to me, talk to my boss. He handed over a sweaty and dirty cell phone. His boss said the same things, that we missed our flight, it is our fault and we must pay our air fare to Aswan. I lashed out at the boss over the phone and handed over the sweaty phone to representative no.2. After talking to his boss he turns to me and says if you do not pay you will stay in Cairo Airport. Now he is resorting to threats. We did not give in and got up to leave. They finally caved in and said ok we will pay. Finally, he came to his senses. After almost an hour of haggling, back and forth with his boss on the cell phone, making our blood boil, he decided to do the right thing. This is the trip to *** I said to myself.

After paying the 300 Egyptian pounds he gave us a computer print out from an old dot matrix printer stating that we are on stand-by for the morning flight. We waited another hour or so to see if there is room in the morning flight. To our dismay the flight was full, no room for standbys. At this point Leona was crying, she wanted to go home. We were tired, exhausted and could not believe this is happening to us. We were still waiting in the airport. The two GATE1 clowns who were supposed to help us kept disappearing in the dense crowd. As soon as we thought we were being abandoned they reappeared and disappeared again all this time their cell phone was glued to their ear. As if they were playing the game of how- frustrated- can- I- make- you-before –you snap.

Finally they approached us and said that they booked us for the night flight out of Cairo to Aswan (exhibit 4). Meanwhile they are going to put us up in a nearby hotel. We had no other choice, we complied. I gathered my family and asked Leona to be strong and not to cry everything hopefully will be alright with these two clowns. As we were leaving the airport representative no.2 disappeared and representative no.3 remained with us. He turned to me and said that his boss had told him that we are responsible for the hotel expenses. Here we go again, he hands over the dirty sweaty cell phone to me again, I lash out at his boss again and this time using my cell phone called GATE 1 in the US and left a message complaining about the way we were being treated. It is now around 7:30 am on April 18 more than 36 hours since we left home. We were tired, frustrated, exhausted , disgusted, appalled.

Representative no.3 after keeping us in the cold outside air for 30 minutes waiting for the hotel shuttle that never showed up, took my advise and called a cab to drive us to the nearby hotel. Once there we had to wait another 45 minutes in the lobby while clown no.3 was making arrangements with his boss on how to pay for our stay. Finally they give us a room. As soon as we entered the room we all crashed into the beds from exhaustion, lack of sleep, jet lag and dealing with GATE1 morons. Making a long story short , we checked out of our hotel at around 8:30 pm. We ended up paying for our meal (see exhibit 5). Only breakfast was included with the room not lunch or dinner. A new GATE 1 representative took us to the airport.

Flight to Aswan

Our flight to Aswan was around 11:00 pm. We flew Egypt Air to Aswan ( attached see copy of boarding pass and tickets in Exhibit 6). In Aswan Airport we were picked up by yet another representative. He drove us to the cruise ship. We checked into our cabin. It is now around 2:00 am on Thursday April 19. We were supposed to be in the cruise ship Tuesday evening April 17, 2009.

What we missed:

We missed two days of the 10 days tour. Specifically we missed day 2 Cairo tour and day 3 the Aswan high dam unfinished obelisk and other sight seeing.

Emotional distress:

The two days that we missed we were stranded in airports and hotels waiting for our flights that should have been coordinated right from the beginning to avoid this ordeal. But it was not. GATE 1 is clearly negligent in that regard. As a result, we were emotionally distressed at a time that we should have had a good time, it was our vacation time . We had booked this vacation way in advance and we were anticipating on having a good time but instead we were thrown into the turbulence of anguish, uncertainty, long waits and harassment by GATE 1 representatives in Frankfurt and Cairo . Leona was hurt, she was crying and wanted to go home. Alexis was disgusted and hurt. I was furious and felt betrayed.

Overcharge:

A person named Patrick in GATE 1 talks my wife into paying extra for Not flying Egypt Air domestically (se Exhibit 1 page 3). We paid the $789 but all the inter-Egypt flights were with Egypt Air.

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Anonymous
to hamed ta***hodi #783830

This problem was a Gate1 error, but was YOUR FAULT. They TOLD you to read your travel docs when you got them a month before departure.

Your kid sounds like a spoiled, whiny, obnoxious brat.

Anonymous
#56806

Never again with GATE1 TRAVEL

Their tour minibus driver was speeding on a narrow road while going across the Atlas Mountains when it suddenly broadsided a private car.

There was a heavy impact, but fortunately nobody was seriously injured.

My wife was thrown forward and fell into the stair well, and I banged both my knees and hands on the seat in front of me.

Some passengers suffered minor cuts, but my wife and I suffered a few bruises, and my eye glasses were broken.

After about two hours, another bus came in and we continued the trip, except that it was not possible for us to go on the walking tours for the next two days on account of our bruised legs.

Upon returning to the USA, we reported the accident to GATE1 TRAVEL and requested that they pay (even in the form of vouchers for future trips) for my eye glasses, and my two visits to an orthopedist.

They were very rude, and did not assume any responsibility for the accident.

Beware of GATE1 TRAVEL: they carry our lives on their hands, but they are not responsible for any problems they cause.

Their customer service personnel are rude, indifferent and unconcerned.

No wonder, I heard from people in the travel industry that they are on the brink of going out of business, leaving many people's money in limbo.

Anonymous
Farnley, England, United Kingdom #56465

I completely agree with Larry's evaluation of Gate1, His experience was quite similar to mine.

Now about the other so-called comment by the person who calls himself JIm: Jim is clearly in the employ of Gate1 or being paid by them for commenting. Therefore, I am not surprised to see a familiar, yet still gratuitous and irrelevant, refrain from him regarding Gate1's airline partners, while ignoring Larry's major criticism of other Gate1 facilities and services. It seems that Jim's "comment" is nothing more than canned "boilerplate," because he provided the identical gibberish as a comment on my own review of Gate1.

Anonymous
#56462

GATE1 TRAVEL IS A JOKE

My wife and I are very experienced travelers, having toured all over the world with several tour companies, and never had any significant problems.

However, on a recent tour of Morocco with GATE1 TRAVEL, it did not take us long to realize that the quality of their service is well below par:

1- Four days before the trip, they completely changed the itinerary of the tour, which rendered the airline reservations we had independently made totally unusable.

If it weren't for the actions of our personal travel agent, we would have been in an impossible situation.

Needless to say, we were very stressed when the trip started.

2- when we arrived at the airport in Casablanca, we could not find the person responsible for our hotel transfer.

After looking for him all over the arrivals area, we decided to change enough money to buy a phone card, in order to call the local GATE1 TRAVEL office for instructions.

It took three phone calls, and we were finally told by their incompetent office manager to take a taxi to the hotel.

The whole fiasco wasted about three hours of our time, and when we finally arrived at the hotel, the tour of the city that was included in the package had just left.

The hotel in Casablanca was very dirty and dreary.

3- At the end of the tour, we were supposed to return with the group to Casablanca.

Instead, the tour guide told us that we would be...

We had bought an all inclusive tour from Casablanca to Casablanca, and warned him during the tour that his paperwork was incorrect.

This cost us several days of arguments with the tour guide, and many calls to the incompetent office manager.

In the end, we had to wake up at 2:30 in the morning to be able to catch our early morning flight in Casablanca.

Obviously, we were wrong in asuming that we would be well cared for when we bought an all inclusive tour.

Not with GATE1 TRAVEL: they drop the ball and the customers are left holding the bag big time.

Belatedly, we heard from other people that these fiascos are commonplace with GATE1 TRAVEL.

Once they collect your money, you are completely at their mercy.

There are many good tour companies around, but GATE1 TRAVEL is NOT one of them.

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Anonymous
#54484

sounds like you're using gate 1 for a whipping post. unless they are flying the planes and work air traffic control, i don't se this as a gate 1 problem

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