Christmas & New Years Cruise South America StyleAuthor: Amelia Hesson (More Trip Reviews by Amelia Hesson)
Date of Trip: December 2012
1/5/2013 --Buenos Aires, Argentina—La Tigre River tour
The tour operator we used for the transfer and half day tour, plus the following day tour to La Tigre, and finally the transfer today to the airport was horrible. He changed the la Tigre tour from 6-7 hours to 4 and the person who organized it had to “pout” to get the train ride we were promised. However our guide Petra was an angel and when we showed her what we were promised by the idiot Javier, she gave us the full tour as promised. We thoroughly enjoyed her tour, we took a bus to the river, then had a nice boat ride. After we shopped a little, went to a train station where we had a half hour to shop, or eat. Then we drove to another station, waited for the train and boarded it for a quick ride illuminated by Petra. After, we walked and she pointed out some interesting elements of the environment including trees and places and even flowers indigenous to the area. She did her best to make us happy and we all appreciated her efforts. It was a nice day.
1/6/2013 --Transfer to Airport, COPA Airlines, and Panama
The next day for the transfer he also sent a tiny car to pick up 4 of us and all of our luggage, which did not fit, and had to be tied to the roof. It was awful. I have to get the name of the tour operator; I did not make the arrangements and the person who made the arrangements was uncomfortable sharing the tour operators info. Suffuce it to say, be careful and mindful of the amount of people and luggage on buses and always keep it small rather than large! I would follow this advice regardless of whom you use. While I don't like to recommend or bash tour operators, this operator sucked so bad, he used bait and switch tactics, increased the prices and changed the tours without notifying the person who organized these tours and transfers. Be careful of these tactics
We flew COPA air, the airline of Panama. We flew business class and it was fantastic, fully reclining chairs and all the trimmings of first class including unlimited drinks, toiletry kit, blankets and pillows, nice meals with real silverware and table cloths, snacks, desserts, and bottles of water. I had not heard of them, and had read a few negative comments on tripadvisor about coach, but in business (their first class) it was completely different. I paid a few hundred more for this and it was completely worth it. In addition, we were able to use the VIP lounges in both Buenos Aires and Panama and they were fantastic, with food, drinks, and free wifi. Panama's airport is really nice with tons of shopping, they even had a Helly Hanson store. Helly is a great place to get all the goretex pants and sports wear for Penguin poop and cold weather jaunts!
The transfers and excursions were organized using South Excursions and Javier was the contact. The person who organized these tours and transfers had great experiences with this same company in several different ports, these experiences were positive and timely and there was no complaints regarding them. Our disembark transfers were problematic as stated earlier, and there were a few issues with the tours but all of those issues were settled and we were all happy with them. My best advice here is to make sure your transfer tours will accommodate all people and all of there luggage so that nobody has to share seating space with luggage. Also, several pieces of luggage had to be sent directly to the hotel we were all staying at. There were no problems with the luggage sent ahead, the hotel Savoy had them stored securely and safe.
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