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Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

Seattle, Washington
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3 posts
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Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

I've done about 20 reviews on Trip Advisor and all have been very good or excellent experiences. A recent October 2012 Tartan van tour of the Cabot trail was not a good experience. First off the price increased more than $60 from my first inquiry to $860 for 8 people (gas surcharge). Upon being picked up by van (van old and dirty, windows not even cleaned, van squeaked loudly) so not a good start to our trip. The van driver was nice but he didn't speak up so we couldn't hear him. He wasn't talkative so he didn't say a lot about the area. We stopped at very few places for picture taking during our 6.5 hour tour. Drove to Ingonish and back...same path. Our 3 other tours were $70-75 per person...Tartan was $107.25 pp. I was very unhappy at the conclusion of our tour.

Nova Scotia
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for Nova Scotia
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1. Re: Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

Hi. Welcome to the Trip Advisor forums.

I am so sorry you had this poor experience. I am assuming you were on a cruise.

It is too bad you did not come here or to Cruise Critic to do some research first. There have been previous posts about this and other tour companies, as well as advice on what to do when on a cruise stop in Sydney.

http://bit.ly/U5Nysw

I generally advise people to rent a car. You should have had time to go further on the trail (at least along the beautiful section from Ingonish to Neil's Harbour). Another beautiful drive is around the Bras d'Or Lakes including stops at Baddeck and Iona.

I will say that the route they took is the standard route for cruise ship tours. The Cabot Trail is a circular loop which you do not have time to do in a few hours. There are no other ways to get back from Ingonish except to continue around the trail or go back the way you came.

http://goo.gl/maps/uW85y

It may also be possible that the fine print in your tour information mentioned the possibility of a gas surcharge. Prices spiked a couple weeks ago but have since dropped back down.

I hope you did manage to see some of the beauty for which Cape Breton is famous. Please consider coming back again when you have more time. Check out this recent trip report to get an idea of what autumn in Cape Breton can be like:

tripadvisor.ca/ShowTopic-g154967-i326-k58486…

Seattle, Washington
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3 posts
57 reviews
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2. Re: Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

Thanks for your response MaryAnn. I actually did see the Cruise Critic review on Tartan Tours but felt it was a refund issue and thought I would give Tartan the benefit of the doubt. Bad choice on my part. I was also expecting to have a circular loop and not cover the same scenery twice. I expected more for $860. We went with private van tours so we could get more in than the cruise planned tours with loading 50 people into buses etc. Fortunately our other 3 van tours at subsequent ports were a far better experience for significantly less money.

Nova Scotia
Destination Expert
for Nova Scotia
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3. Re: Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

It continues to frustrate me that cruise stops in Sydney are not long enough for people to go around the Cabot Trail. The cruise ships call the tour they offer something like "a taste of the Cabot Trail". It is not much of a taste. Unfortunately the most spectacular scenery is the furthest away.

Your instinct to go with a private tour rather than a ship's tour is the same as mine, but there are few good tour operators in Cape Breton. In fact I only know of reviews of one. That is why I advise renting your own car.

Cape Breton Island...
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4. Re: Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

It frustrates me too...i would love to start my own touring company. I was once going to be a travel agent and life took a right turn so it never happened. I love seeing tourists coming here and visiting. I would love to take them to all the off the beaten track places and show them what many people miss going on these short tours. Renting a car is a good option if you plan wisely and do your homework before heading out. Maybe something the cruise ships should consider would be to stay in port longer...even 4 hours longer would be benefiticial. Take care.

Seattle, Washington
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3 posts
57 reviews
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5. Re: Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

Thanks for all the comments The main reason to not rent a car was having a "guide" that could point out history, culture and some of the outstanding sites. I also want to say that the people of Nova Scotia were so friendly and gracious. I have so many positive memories....this van tour just wasn't one of them.

Sydney, Canada
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6. Re: Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

Rick,

heres your emails to refresh your memory.

Dear Rick,

I can still provide service for your group. But The price will have to change to 750.00 for all 8 of you on October 10th, dueto the rising price of gas here its a difereance of 30.00. from our origanal qoute. Is this acceptable to you?

Places were we will be visting & or photos

St. Anns bay look off

Englishtown ferry cable car crossing

Ingonish ( keltic lodge)

Neils harbour

Green cove photos and coast line

Lakies head photos and coastline

Lunch will be at ( altalntic rest on the grounds of the keltic lodge or The main street resturant in ingonish) due to the october date.

the views from smokey going back to sydney are breathataking.

Then its a 2 hour drive back to sydney to the ship.

The way this is explained is i want you to see everything we can in our timeline, we get to see ore than the ships busses due to there is only 8 passengers. We would pick you up at 8.15 am and go from there. In orderr to hold your date i need a credit card number just to hold your date. There will be nopthing charged to your card at all. There for there is no deposit. If the ship cant make it to port there is no charge.. Payment will be due at the start of your tour .. the total for all 8 Is this acceptable to you????

. I will now confirm your group of 8 for a 6.5 hours cabot trail as discused above with a pick up time at 8 15 am we will be on the wharf near the gangpalnk with a sign with your last name on it so the re will be no worries, i have check the cruiseship sched and your ship will be docking so dont worry about tendering 8 15am is a great time for pick up see you then.

This what you agreed to...... At no time was there any menton of a full cabot trail tour....The time your ship was in port from 8am to 5 pm 4 pm was the time you had to be back on board. . You arrived back approx 3pm pick up time was 815am.

The van is fully lisence and insured and inspected by the Pulbic ulilty board of nova Scotia with 3 million dollars insurance.

Please note that you shorted the payment by 108.00 in which you paid when i contacted you by email.

Thanks

7. Re: Tartan Van Tour in Sydney Nova Scotia - not good.

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