Katherine D Nru
map-marker Morgantown, Pennsylvania

A changed company

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This was my second trip with Pilgrim Tours. My first trip was to Egypt just at the beginning of Covid. The staff in Pennsylvania were wonderful at communicating, updates, accommodations etc. Our guide Medo ( spelling probably off ) was absolutely the best. A great historian and enthusiastic guide. Everyone of us loved him. I got sick the last two days of that tour and Pilgrim took care of everything for me. I fly for the airlines and I fly standby and without a hitch they provided me transportation to and from the airport,. I came in a day early and Pilgrim set up a room for me also. I paid for the extra passage of course and hotel room. I have raved about Pilgrim on my flights and to friends. I was excited to go on my second trip to Turkey, the 7 churches of revelations. The woman who I was assigned to at Pilgrim should have been my first warning. She said she never received my paperwork after a week of dealing with that I asked her about my check I sent in, she had no record of it and then called me later that week that she finally found it, it was found in a batch of paperwork on her table. This all took close to a month on the phone back back and forth. I explained to her that I fly stand by and that I was coming in a day early, like I did Egypt . She said no because I was not guaranteed a flight. I guaranteed her I would not give her the ok unless I was positive . She told me no. So I was left on my own to take care of hotel and arrange transportation. The trip though was made amazing by the fantastic guide of Sebnem Kececi. She was so knowledgeable about her own country and most informative about our Christian sights. She was intelligent, kind, patient and full of grace. An amazing person, outstanding guide!! On leaving Turkey the rest of the tour was to continue to Patmos. My trip had ended and I was to go to Samos. Our ships left the same time at the same port and I asked if I could catch a ride to the port from the hotel on our bus and Pilgrim tours said no I couldnt . Even though there were extra seats. Well, the simple request and the attitude has left a sour taste and I will not be taking another tour with them. I am not sure why theyve changed, could have been Covid related attitude or my assigned lady at Pilgrim. I do not know. But pilgrim tours will never be spoken of again to passengers or friends. Katherine divis
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Pros:
  • Great tour guides in medo and sebnem
Cons:
  • What happened to your company
Cathy V Qao

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So others may be more informed if they choose Pilgrim Tours

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If we were just reviewing the Israeli staff, we would give 5 stars. However, the actions of the US staff diminished the rating. The Israeli staff hired by Pilgrim Tours was exceptional. Our guide, Katherine, was passionate about her topics of discussion, knowledgeable, talented, and compassionate. She made our tour such a joy; it was both an inspirational and thought-provoking learning experience. Likewise, our guide in Bethlehem, Lahdo, was excellent. He went above and beyond to help those in our group who had mobility issues see the places we visited in comfort. Our bus driver, Bassam, was also a blessing to our group. Besides being an excellent driver who could impressively navigate the large bus through very tight places, he was knowledgeable of the area and helped us find the best places to enter our sites so everyone was able to participate. On the other hand, our experience with the US staff at Pilgrim tours was a Comedy of Errors at best, and frustratingly incompetent at worst. The price for our tour increased by $100 at the time our final payment was due. We were initially given the price per person if we booked before November 2nd, and were strongly encouraged by the president of the company to do this. If anyone booked later than that, there would be an additional $100 fee. We were also told that if we canceled at any time (up to 90 days before the tour), there would be a $100 penalty. This $100 late registration fee quickly became the normal fee for our tour. The $100 discount for early registration evaporated when our group grew to the number to qualify for a group discount. After I pointed out the misrepresentation of this policy on their site, they changed this to indicate it is now a discount rather than an increase in the fee for a late registration. Several people in our group paid their deposit early to take advantage of this $100 savings, not sure if they would be able to go. However, we were never informed at the time of registration that the discount as it was now called, was no longer available if your group received the posted group discount which we later learned in a terse email from Mr. Nyce. We didnt find out about this until our final invoice arrived, charging us the extra $100. If we had known this advertised discount was not going to be honored, the people who registered early could have waited until March to register, saving each of them the $100 cancellation penalty. We would recommend that if you travel with a group, do not register until the final payment deadline to save the $100 penalty in case anyone has to cancel. After learning that we would be charged an extra $100 for the tour, I contacted Lori, our assigned travel consultant for clarification. I thought I must have missed seeing this information on their website or in our correspondence. Lori answered, Unfortunately, it does not directly state that discounts are not stackable but the small group discount is listed and advertised as a special rate, signifying that it something different than what is advertised online. I think I understand what you are asking so hopefully my answer explains what you are askingBecause of the small group discount, everyone is paying the same price for the tour now, no matter what time they registered. There is no longer an $100 tour cost increase because of registering after November. (copied directly from email dated 2/27/23). Since her explanation conflicted with the current charges in our invoice (in that it clearly states we should not have to pay the extra $100), I forwarded the email to Mr. Nyce and asked for clarification. He refused to answer my question about the conflicting information we were receiving and instead answered, The maximum discount that Pilgrim Tours can offer is 10% off the full advertised price of $2,199. This amounts to a total discount of $219.90 per person. Passengers who deposited before November 2, 2022, guaranteed their spot at a maximum price of $2,099 per person (before we applied a small group discount). As your group grew above 6 passengers, all passengers are now offered a 10% discount off the advertised tour cost. If youd like us to change your invoice for those that deposited before the November cutoff, the price can be listed at $2,099 but your small group discount would then be $119.90 to total a $219.90 discount. We let the whole matter drop after that, knowing that we had no recourse at this late date with flights already booked. (March 2023). Besides the conflicting information given about the price of the tour, we had other mistakes on our invoice. They added an additional post-night charge that we didnt request and they left off the two transfers (before and after the tour) we had requested. The post-night was eventually removed, but we still lacked the transfers. An additional email was required to correct that mistake. Lori replied, Sorry that must have accidentally gotten removed when we removed the additional post night. Here is an updated invoice. (It never was on the invoice.) We also had mistakes made regarding both of our transfers in Israel. Due to weather, one of our flights to Tel Aviv was delayed several hours and we missed a connection at JFK. I immediately called the emergency contact number we were given in the final travel papers and informed Daniel (the contact in Israel) that we would not be arriving until the following day.. I also contacted Lori by email to make sure everyone on the US side knew about the change in flights and updated time of arrival. When we did arrive in Israel, we followed their directions to gate 23 to meet the person providing our transfer to the hotel. No one was there. We waited 30 minutes and tried calling the emergency contact again. Finally a man arrived, obviously annoyed because he didnt know we were arriving until, as he stated, Just 5 minutes ago. We had to wait about an hour for him to find someone to drive us to our hotel. (The person found was either drunk or extremely tired; he drove down the middle of the lines most of the time, eliciting many loud horn blasts at us.) Other people arrived after us and had their driver waiting for them, along with a warm welcome and offers of refreshments. The annoyed employee of Pilgrim who first greeted us, was even more irritated that we brought a collapsible wheelchair for my husband. We are allowed two suitcases, as per Pilgrim Tours instructions, so his wheelchair (which was smaller than our suitcase when collapsed) was our 2nd suitcase. When we told the annoyed man this, he complained that it wasnt the size of it, the wheelchair wasnt square enough. Appalled at his ridiculous comment, I popped off the foot rests and said, Now it is square. Although we had been told earlier by Pilgrim that they dont allow wheelchairs on their tours, (nor do they welcome anyone with mobility issues; a bit ironic considering the tour is "Slow-paced"), we decided to bring it because we had two extra days before the tour and one after when we could use it. And, we only brought one suitcase for the both of us, so we had the extra space. However, once we arrived and met the tour guide and bus driver, they both encouraged us to bring the chair with us. There was more than enough room on the bus and it would come in helpful in places where the terrain was flat and especially in the museums. (My husband has MS and while he can walk, he is slow and becomes tired after walking for an hour or so.) There were also others on the tour who had similar difficulty walking long distances, so our tour guide was extremely helpful in planning each day to provide resting spots as we walked. Incorrect information was given in the letter sent to accompany the tour tip money. Rather than pay tips to local contract workers directly, Pilgrim Tours asks a person on the tour to take cash and checks to the guide in charge of our tour. I was asked to perform this task, and I agreed. I had to go to the bank and cash a check into specific denominations of US cash for hotel staff. I was instructed to give the envelope with the cash and checks to a specific person at the hotel in Tel Aviv; in my case it was a man named Mickey. When we arrived in Tel Aviv, I looked for Mickey, but was told he wasnt there yet. I tried again the next day when we first met our guide, Katherine. She said she thought he was in the restaurant. I went up there to look and couldnt find him. Since it was late, I decided to wait until the next morning to continue my search for Mickey. I emailed Lori Taylor, telling her how I was trying to deliver the envelope to the person instructed, but so far I was unable to find him. The next morning, I found him and tried to give him the envelope, but he said he wasnt supposed to receive it. He said the letter had incorrect instructions and I was supposed to give the money to our guide, Katherine. So then I spent quite a while looking for Katherine. I finally found her, showing her the letter I received and explaining my dilemma, and how I was instructed to give it to someone else. After this I saw multiple emails and one phone call chastising me for not delivering the tip money on time. I replied that I was diligently following their very specific instructions and they should provide accurate instructions if they want it delivered on time. Mistakes were also made with our end of tour transfer. At the end of our tour we were all informed by our guide, Katherine, about our return transfers if purchased. At first the date she listed on the Whats App (Our means of communication within the group while in Israel) was correct. However, the next day she said that was a typo and the date the transfer was scheduled was one day earlier, which was incorrect. I asked Katherine about this, and she said there was conflicting information in what she received from Pilgrim and I needed to contact them directly. I sent an email to Lori to find out what happened. I also posted a copy of the confirmation I received earlier from Lori listing the correct day for the return transfer. The day and time of the return transfer was eventually corrected, but not without a lot of customer effort on our part to fix Pilgrims mistake, again. The quality of the hotels Pilgrim provided for us during the tour were very low-end. Problems experienced by us as well as others on our tour ranged from bed bugs to air conditioning issues. At the last hotel in which we stayed (Leonardo Hotel in Jerusalem), our thermostat didnt work. It averaged 64 degrees *** our room. There was no way to adjust it. When we asked for help at the front desk, we were told we should turn off the whole AC system when it gets too cold, and then turn it back on when we get too hot. So, we did this.all night long.for 5 days. Others in our group experienced clogged bathroom drains (we had this problem too), toilets that kept pouring water in loudly all day and night (after three attempts to fix this problem, this couple was moved to another room), AC units that didnt work at all, rendering the room very hot (this was fixed after 2 days) and the worst was the bed bugs one couple endured. The rooms were not clean. The bathrooms were moldy and heavy layers of dust lay on the floor under the beds, causing difficulties with allergies. The elevators were out of service periodically. On the day we left we saw employees of the hotel placing extra beds into some of the rooms (we were told they were overbooked for the weekend). The beds were disgustingtorn and dirty. A photo of the bed is posted with a full review on this google doc. bit.ly/42KpbLf We will not choose Pilgrim Tours again for any future travel. Perhaps our experience would have been better if we had a different travel consultant who made fewer mistakes, but it is fruitless to speculate. If you choose Pilgrim, be prepared for changes in price and watch very closely whenever they send documents to check for mistakes. And if you travel to Jerusalem, we strongly recommend that you insist they give you a different hotel than the Leonardo.
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Loss:
$364
Pros:
  • Israeli guides and driver were exceptional
Cons:
  • Many mistakes made

Preferred solution: Apology

User's recommendation: Be very careful if you choose Pilgrim Tours. We will not choose them again.

emcintosh
map-marker Raleigh, North Carolina

Bad tour company Pilgrim Tours

Updated by user Apr 22, 2011

I am adding this update on April 22nd 2011. Just heard from David Nyce, owner of Pilgrim Tours. He was very apologetic and actually seemed concerned about our tour being ruined. All I wanted from the beginning was someone there to listen to me and be concerned. Also for this not to happen to any one else when they have a luggage problem.

I told Mr. Nyce as far as I am concerned it is over.

Ed McIntosh

Original review Apr 20, 2011
Returned 04/14/2011 from 15 day tour to Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Airline lost bags. We had only the clothes we had on. Tour traveled all day every day. In a strange country we really needed help. Pilgrim Tours out of Morgantown, pa. would not get us to a store to purchase clothes and toiletries. We had to borrow clothes from other guest and wash things out each evening. I received one bag on the 12th day the other was sent to my home. I called to complain and Dan at Pilgrim Tours said they filled their commitment as they were not responsible for our misfortune. Commitment is one thing and being human is another. What ever you do, do not use this tour company Ed McIntosh
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Loss:
$8000
4 comments
Guest

Anyone who travels should realize this is simply the airlines responsibility for your baggage loss. If you had taken out travel insurance-- you would have been fully covered to purchase new clothing and other necessities for your tour.

These things happen- and I am sorry this happened to you. One lady on our trip , the airline lost her luggage too.

She graciously wore her husbands shirts, and was sort of creative throughout the tour- and she made "lemondade out of lemons". I hope you did not let this circumstance steal your joy for the rest of the trip.

Guest

I have traveled overseas numerous times. It is YOUR responsibility to purchase travel insurance to cover lost or delayed luggage.

Don't blame Pilgrim Tours for your lack of preparation.

Guest
reply icon Replying to comment of Guest-754737

We had travel insurance which sent us two hundred dollars weeks after the tour was over. This did not help one bit as we needed clothes then.

All we asked was after the days tour to get us (at our expense) some place in Egypt to purchase clothing, again at our expense.

It is over and done with and we have moved on. We hold not grudges with Pilgrim Tours and hope to use them again some day.

Ed McIntosh

Guest

I can't see blaming the tour company for lost luggage. Those tours generally have a tight itinerary and have little time to take you shopping for new undies.

Always, always, always take a carry on with at least one change of clothes and your toiletries.

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