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Review: On the Trail of the Apostles in Cappadocia

Escorted Tour - Coach

Turkey

RSD Travel - Cappadocia

  • By SilverTraveller Magicmags

    1 review

  • 2014
  • Partner

142 people found this review helpful

We travelled with RSD to Cappadocia in Turkey in April 2014 on a special offer winter deal of £149.

We did not know in advance but our flight to Turkey was actually Bristol – Glasgow – Antalya. The flight from Glasgow left around 5.50 pm and arrived in Turkey around 1 in the morning, at the hotel around 2 am & checked in by 3am.

The return journey to Britain was Antalya – Bristol – Glasgow. The Glasgow passengers also had to leave the plane and go through passport control and then get back on the plane again before setting off for Glasgow. So the return journey to Glasgow was around 6 hours (as was the outward journey for Bristol passengers).

The special offer cost of £149 is not the true cost of the holiday. The ‘optional’ extras when you arrive are NOT really optional at all. – The so-called ‘Small Package’ was £110 per person for all evening buffet meals at the hotels and included the cost of entry to 3 places (Rumi’s tomb, Goreme World Heritage Site & the Underground City – entry was free to other places visited). As some hotels were situated far from alternative eating facilities, you really needed to take this – so it really is NOT optional. – The other package cost an additional £85 per person for lunches plus entry to a Whirling Dervish display and a Turkish evening. There was intense pressure put on everyone to take this additional option. The guide’s face was like thunder for those who opted not to take it and they were made to feel like semi-criminals! And in the bad-books for the rest of the trip! Most lunch places had no alternative options within walking distance and so those who had not taken the lunch package were left by the roadside for the hour that the others were in the restaurant. There was not even the option to stay on the bus! Luckily the weather was mostly good.

So the true cost of the special offer holiday deal is actually £344. Now this is still a very good price but it would have been better if RSD had been up-front about it as it caused a lot of bad feeling, especially as the tour guide was obviously under a lot of pressure to ensure that 100% of the group took the ‘Big Package’ and was extremely displeased at those who did not opt for the lunch part. It caused a lot of ill-feeling. Had the offer been the all-in price, people would have been very happy with that.

The details that RSD sent explained that we were expected to give the driver £1.75 per day per person and the guide also £1.75 per day per person – so we knew this in advance. However on the day before returning to the UK the tour guide read out the paragraph to us to make sure we did not forget! What was particularly shocking was when the guide explained that the driver did not receive any payment at all – just the tips that we gave! We felt that the wages of staff should have been paid by RSD, not by us, the customers. The recommended tips to the driver & guide added another £28 per person / £56 per couple to the cost of the trip.

Too many factories are included in the RSD trip. The carpet factory was actually quite interesting and a couple of people did buy carpets. However our last full day was so frustrating. We spent our last afternoon firstly in a jewellery factory with prices so extortionately high that even a small pendant (no diamonds included) cost well over £700. This was followed by a visit to a leather factory also with extortionately high prices – leather jackets starting at over £1,000 and sheepskin at well over £2,000. We would all have preferred to spend the time in the old town of Antalya rather than in these factories. What a shame to end our trip doing this on our last day.

On the plus side, the hotels were a good standard and genuinely 4 or 5 star. The food, while not being particularly Turkish, was good too with a large enough selection to suit most tastes.

It is a pity that RSD did not advertise the holiday at the true price and highlight the fact that this price included ALL meals and 2 entertainment items. This would have prevented so much ill-feeling on both the part of the staff and of the customers.

A small tip – we wished we had taken Euros rather than Turkish Lira as everywhere we went, everything was priced in Euros.

Cappadocia itself did not disappoint. We would consider going again, but making our own way using some of the many lovely boutique hotels and hiring a car as the roads are very good and also not busy. In winter/spring (we went in early April) I think there are probably a lot of good deals to be had.

The rating I will give this is based on the RSD tour, not on Cappadocia which was terrific.

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Other Members' Thoughts - 3 Comment(s)

  • ISR
    almost 7 years ago
    Yes I also agree with the comments about RSD travel. We went in December to Cappadocia for 149.00 . Apart from the last hotel in Antalya (Hadruis) which really was not 4 or 5 star , the hotel rooms were wonderful. The dinner was very good on most nights (apart from the last hotel). The guide was a bit off with us because we did not take the lunch package. I really would recommend people being a bit brave and not taking the lunch package because most people we spoke to about the lunch said that it was not really worth the extra money. We had lunch with the group one day and it cost 15 euros per head and we did not eat most of the food. We normally bought lunch from the place we visited before lunch time and ate our lunch while watching some very beautiful scenery in a couple of places but mostly we found somewhere to sit and eat. In Antalya we sat on the beach and ate and had the whole beach to ourselves which was lovely. They really do take you to places for lunch where it is difficult to find somewhere to eat so you just have to make sure you buy your lunch at 11am when visiting a site before lunch time. It was really worth it for us as we used the money we saved to pay for the balloon rides in Cappadocia which was amazing.
    As for the tips we were not told about the driver not getting paid but were all encouraged to give 5 pounds each and we could have free water for all our journey which I thought was reasonable. All in all we had a lovely time despite the guide being a bit off. I think RSD should be upfront about all the costs which in reality are not really optional especially the dinner package as it would be very difficult to find dinner places late at night as the hotels are out of the way, well away from city centres. The package was well worth the 110 pounds.
    I really would recommend the tour though as it is very different to the normal holiday. Cappoducia is amazing, and so is Antalya harbour. We didn't get our free day in Antalya harbour for some reason so we chose to go back to the harbour on our last morning free and went by taxi (40 euros for 5 of us) on a 2 hour bout trip to see the waterfalls. We paid 10 euros per head and it really was beautiful with absolutely breathtaking scenery. Really was the best part of the trip but we only had 15 minutes before the coach left for the airport when we got back to the hotel.
    You can book the boat trip the day before if u have 10 people for 9am start which would give you plenty of time to get back
  • Wanderer_2
    almost 7 years ago
    I would like to endorse the comments of Magicmags and add more about
    the RDS Tour to Cappodocia. In general a good tour and reasonable value for money but the mindset of the guide was appalling.

    Boy were the folk who only paid for the £110 extras not the £195 package treated badly! The guide even slagged them off to the rest of the group - she was so unprofessional. The £195 price was a con in itself as if you paid in euros
    you could save about £14! - assuming no foreign transaction charge on your credit card.

    The worse aspects were the many wasted hours at the end of the tour in the factory outlets for carpets, jewellery and leather shop, mostly spent hanging around in the car park. No objection to seeing them but the stops should have been time-limited, which of course they had no interest in doing as their only objective was to fleece people.
    As a consequence there was very little time to see Antalya which is great tourist spot
    with great shops, but of course they get no back-handers there! Another group
    was simply frog-marched around Anatalya with no possibility to stop, having spent
    3.5 hours at the carpet outlet.
    I am not against the guide making a little on the side but this was so blatantly corrupt.
  • Jane-Skinner
    about 7 years ago
    The comments posted by Magic Mags in April this year have come on the nick of time as we are about to embark on the very same tour early tomorrow morning (Wednesday 19 November 2014). Forewarned is forearmed! We look forward to comparing notes & will post our findings both good & bad at the end of the month. Provided we survive the experience that is! Jane & Stephen Skinner from Bishops Stortford Hertfordshire .