One of the many benefits of going on a group tour is getting to meet and make friends with your fellow passengers. There is nothing quite like the bond that is formed between travellers when you see and experience incredible new things together, things that have been a shared dream for you all and are now becoming a reality. There are always plenty of laughs, along with those pinch-me moments, and of course, stories shared over a wine or two. You leave the tour with new friends and promises to catch up afterwards.
We recently travelled through Western Canada with Travelmarvel and the experience was no different. Each of our fellow tour passengers were there for the same reason – to tick off many bucket-list items and see the beauty and magic of Canada for themselves.
We chatted to one of our fellow passengers, Ian Robottom, to get the low-down on what the experience was like from their point of view… Ian joined the tour with his wife Linda, and six of their friends (three couples) who they have known for many years and shared many adventures with. The eight of them travelled with us and thirty others on the land journey through Canada, then continued onto the 7-night Alaskan Cruise. This is what Ian had to say…
Hi Ian! First of all, tell us how long had you been planning the trip to Canada?
We planned the trip about 10 months before the tour. It wasn’t really planned before then, it just happened. Linda and I and our friends Sheryl and Walter said ‘let’s do it’ then the others asked to join in! It happened at the right time as we were entitled to an early booking discount which we didn’t know about until we booked. What a bonus!
What made you choose the Travelmarvel tour?
Friends of ours did a river cruise in Europe and highly recommended Travelmarvel. When we saw what Travelmarvel offered compared to other companies it made up our mind. The tour covered all our requirements, plus more.
What were you looking forward to seeing or doing on the tour the most?
The Rocky Mountaineer and the cruise up to Alaska were the things important to me and the others. What we got was far more than we expected, each day was another adventure and the Tour Director just made it even better.
Looking back, what were your stand out highlights of the tour?
The whole tour was remarkable, we enjoyed our time with the “Places We Go” crew and the interaction with the Tour Director and guides on the optional extras tours. They have the necessary knowledge and were able to impart that information really well. The standouts were the Rocky Mountaineer, Banff and the cruise, but overall the whole tour. I look at photos and it transports you back to Canada and Alaska and there is nothing that I didn’t enjoy.
Banff was just an amazing town, we went for a walk the first night and were following the river when it sounded like a stampede was heading our way. Six elk came running towards us… 2 male and 4 female… and it certainly sent a shiver down our spines, they stayed around us and were being very playful, it was just something so unexpected. The town itself is so tourist-friendly and the scene of looking down the main street towards the mountain was unreal, it looked more like a picture or a Hollywood set. The walks around the town and the wildlife just added to the excitement of the tour.
What was the tour group like?
The tour group was really good, everybody got on well and it really had that holiday feel. We were luckier than others as we travelled with 3 other couples and we’ve known each other for over 30 years. I suppose that assisted us in having a good time, we made some new friends along the way and still stay in touch.
How did you feel travelling with the Places We Go crew?
It was good, the “Places We Go” were very friendly and were in holiday mode themselves! Even though they had a job to do, they did it and still interacted as if they were part of the group. It had a holiday feel to the tour even though they were working. They were polite and always asked for permission to interview or film you. They were not intrusive in any way.
What surprised you the most about the tour?
The “Places We Go” crew being part of the tour and how well organised the whole tour was. There were no real problems or concerns by our group. It turned out well as we got to see some lakes still frozen and snow – something we didn’t expect.
What are your top memories from the trip?
The Rocky Mountaineer, Glacier Bay, Banff and Victoria. But the whale watching tours are right up there. The whole tour was a highlight.
What were the best features of the Travelmarvel tour?
The organisation from when we arrived in Vancouver and were met by our Tour Director until we left Anchorage for home. It was well run and everything was explained in detail. Absolutely fantastic.
What’s next on your travel agenda?
We have a cruise to Papua New Guinea in November and then a family cruise to the South Pacific in February.
Next August we leave for Europe and we have two Travelmarvel tours; a 9-day rail/coach tour of Scotland and then a River Cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest. The Amsterdam to Budapest river cruise will include the same people as our last tour, also, we have picked up 2 extras to join us on the river cruise, how awesome will that be, lol!
Any other comments on the Canada experience overall?
Our Tour Director Simone should take kudos for adding to the tour. She was a lovely person who couldn’t do enough for you and had a good sense of humour, Take a bow Simone!