7 independent reviews for Israel holidays, small group tour

Reviews for Israel holidays, small group tour

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review 22 Mar 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

I felt we saw practically everything that Israel had to offer with a very competent guide. Every day was packed with sights and experiences but the outstanding event was visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, but I felt we needed longer at this sight.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

The hotel choices were poor, especially the hotel in Jerusalam. The days were long and there is a lot of walking. By the time the tour finished everyday you were in a rush to get ready for dinner, before they finished serving, typically around 8-8.30. The weather was very warm in March, later in the year this trip would be a challenge.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Not especially.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I work in the travel industry and was working away when my husband selected this holiday. I wish I had paid more attention to the details because on the basis of the hotels chosen I would not have selected this holiday. I would prefer to pay more and have the standard of hotel improved. In Jerusalem only one other couple and us were allocated the hotel, the rest of our group were put into a far superior hotel. It was a great trip but room for improvement.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you very much for your review. Im pleased to see that you felt you were able to rate this tour 4-star overall and that you enjoyed the services of the guide and the places visited on the tour. Our Biblical Israel is a busy tour which covers what we would consider the main highlights of Israel within a week with a little more consideration paid to the Biblical places than on our Classic Israel tour. I am sorry that you werent happy with the hotels chosen for the tour. I can see that you were placed in the hotels described within our trip notes and on our website are locally rated 4-star hotels in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, though we describe the Jerusalem hotel as 3-star. The Kibbutz hotel we also rate at the 3-star level. On our Israel tours we do offer an on request hotel upgrade option which is mentioned on the Responsible Travel tour page and within our trip notes, so its normally the case that well have passengers staying in the standard hotels and others in upgraded hotels if they have requested and paid for this option. On this particular tour we offer the option of upgrading all hotels to a better 4-star level and then a superior upgrade to 5-star hotels. In Israel we do try to benefit the local people and economy by only employing local guides, using local handicraft shops and recommending shops to our travellers so that their holiday spending contributes to the people of Israel. I do hope that you have returned from Israel with happy memories and that youll consider another of our tours in the future.

review 11 Feb 2018

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Jerusalem

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Read the old testament bible stories so that you understand the religious significance of many of the sites on the tour.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Only stopping to shop in a Palestinian Christian run shop in Bethlehem.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I was really disappointed to learn that my tour wasn't an tour set up by our tour operator at all but an amalgamated tour with at least 3 other travel companies who had then sub-contracted out the tour. This led to people staying in 3-4 different hotels which meant pickups and drop-offs in Jerusalem; people joining the tour- in Jerusalem the group went from 16-21. I also found out that all the other participants had been offered a range of accommodation which I was not. I also found out that more than half the group 12/16 had requested a rededication ceremony at the baptism site which I had not even been offered when I had booked. All included meals were buffets - twice a day was too much.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your feedback on the tour. Weve responded directly to you in more detail, but Ive added some notes below too. As you have noted, we do sometimes share this particular tour with other operators. The reason for this is that arranging escorted guided tours in Israel is very expensive when compared to the surrounding countries, and it is just not possible to do for very low numbers without a big hike in the price. We do try to be transparent and explain in our website Tour Notes that we run the tour this way, though I accept that all this extra information is not currently visible on the Responsible Travel website. On average our group departures tend to have a minimum of around 10 passengers, though we only need 2 passengers to book for a departure to be guaranteed. The maximum capacity of this tour is 45. We share this tour with a small number of other operators so you may join with travellers booking with different companies. Im glad that you were happy with the hotels that you stayed in which were at the 4-star level. We do also offer some hotel upgrade options ourselves too, and these are mentioned in the Extras section of Day 1 on the Responsible Travel itinerary. Weve expanded on these options in the Tour Notes on our own website, but Im sorry they were not specifically offered to you while you were booking. Offering these hotel upgrades does mean that there can be more than one hotel pick up & drop off at the start/end of each day. However, these are arranged around the sightseeing so the tours are planned first, with the pick up timings then added on to either end. This should ensure that the actual amount of touring you do is not affected or restricted at all. In the evenings, the hotels do arrange buffet dinners, as well as buffet breakfasts which are standard in most hotels. These dinners are included in the tour price, and as is the case in many countries in the region, the rates the hotels charge us for half board rather than just breakfast are pretty similar, meaning it makes sense for us to include them for you. You do always have the choice of heading out and eating independently though, and the guide should make clear this is an option at the start of the trip. Finally, Im sorry that you were not offered the option of the rededication / baptism ceremony at Yardenit. Weve done some training with our reservation staff and updated our itinerary so that this option is clearly available in future.

review 11 Apr 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

The most exciting for me was learning about the history of the Jewish people and seeing Jerusalem, the old city.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared for long days that are very tiring. It was very warm whilst we were there, April but doing all the sight seeing would have been hard work in 40c !

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

We stayed in a Kibbutz hotel so that would have helped and most of our tour group bought lots of souvenirs so that would have helped too.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

I really enjoyed the holiday, it packed a lot in within the week.

review 19 Dec 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

No one part. Whole thing amazing.Having never visited Israel before we had little idea of what to expect, our impressions being mainly informed, if that is the right word, by the tragic scenes of conflict so often projected in our home media. However, since of late there seemed to be a bit of a lull in this strife we saw this as a suitable window of opportunity to get some first hand insights. And for this purpose we could have faired no better than to have had Aharon as our guide. A trained archaeologist with scholarly knowledge of the bible, a passionate love of his people and country, and a wonderful gift for story-telling, he kept us enthralled for a week of incredible sights and experiences. His audience for the minibus tour was mainly Americans with just a couple of Brits. To meet the busy schedule we did have to pick up our feet and maintain a brisk pace but the rewards were plenty as one breathtaking sight after another rolled by and snapshots of thousands of years of world-shaping history were vividly revealed. Looking back at the checklist it seems incredible that we packed it all in - Caeserea, Megiddo, Haifa, Akko, Tiberias, Capernaum, Ceasarea Phillipi, Nazareth, Beit Shean, Jerusalem Old and Now, Bethlehem, Qumran, Masada and muddy finish in the Dead Sea. I for one have never taken so many photos on a single overseas trip, let alone just a one week tour.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Travel light using layered clothes. In winter you need a lightweight windproof jacket, comfortable shoes obviously and an umbrella if possible. Worth having a basic first aid kit. Elderly member of our party cut head in fall. Don't forget your phone and camera chargers. Strangely for us bottled water is not supplied in the bus so take one with you every day and top it up as you go along. Practically all shops take US dollars. Take property security seriously even in your hotel. My wife's perfume vanished from our room.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Certainly benefitted local drivers, guides, shops, cafes etc. Where the holiday did score was in helping us get a better understanding of the effects of climate change, and some man-made contributions, at desert floor level.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Unforgettable. I know I'm banging on about Aharon but he made it come alive, coping manfully with a battery of questions. He always ensured his answers were fully made and were forensically accurate. Where accepted tradition and either written evidence or science were in conflict he would clearly explain each side of the argument so we could be our own judge. The quality of his input made the tour an exceptionally interesting and sometimes thought provoking experience. Of course it was always going to have a profound effect on us all but when on occasion he suggested that we would be changed by what we saw and heard I think he hit the nail on the head. It was a very special tour.

review 13 Apr 2016

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

No one thing stands out because it was all good.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Be prepared to do plenty of walking. Get Israeli currency before leaving home.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

No.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Excellent. The only downside was the Rent-a-Guide Mercedes bus which was cramped, noisy and lacking in shock absorbers.

review 4 Mar 2015

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Masada & Ben Shean

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

See if you can have Hilik as a guide

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Benefited local people, yes. Environmental impact, probably neutral at best, but any travel is bad! Supported conservation, yes as with out visitors they won't conserve, that is clear.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

Very, very, very good. Regarding the stars below, I am not sure about reborn, or the best I have ever been on, but it is one that I would definitely not wanted to have missed and I will recommend it to friends.

review 9 May 2014

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

There were lots of memorable moments. We visited many sites spanning about 5000 years of history. Our guide was very knowledgable and aimed to bring history to life with clear explanations without getting bogged down with minutiae. He was able to answer questions for those who wanted more information. I liked the varied mix of people in the group with eight different countries represented. Just picking out a few hightlights: the boat journey on the Sea of Galilee on a beautiful warm and sunny Spring morning listening to Amazing Grace on the music system. Staying at a kibbutz also very interesting as was watching/taking part in baptisms at the River Jordan.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

This was a very busy tour visiting many sights. It's very much a 'taster' of what Israel has to offer rather than an in-depth study. Be prepared for some long days with a lot of travelling. A sun hat is essential and drink lots of water. At some of the religious sites it's necessary to have knees and shoulders covered and no low cut tops. This applies to men and women. In some places men need to wear head covering. Most places in the main tourist areas would accept US dollars as well as shekles.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

The tour was provided by an Israeli company using jewish, palastinian and arabic guides and drivers so presumably the money stayed within the country. We had opportunities to shop in local shops and the suk and eat in local cafes and restaurants. Where possible we were encouraged to stay on designated paths to avoid excess damage to surrounding areas.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

This was a comprehensive tour with a predominately christian bias. There was much to see and experience. My only real critisism is that it tries to pack too much into too little time. I would have liked longer at many of the sites. I think the tour would benefit from being a few days longer which could possibly give the opportunity to visit a synagogue and a mosque.

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