Marjan Khanji review 12 Mar 2019
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
The two days in Petra. It was good to have approx half day guided tour and 1.5 days free and easy.
Camel ride in Wadi Rum.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Do NOT bother with the Turkish bath in Petra - it felt more like an assembly line car wash than relaxation after two days of heavy duty walking!! Also, it
was a much more unisex affair than what we were told. And they only take Visa and charge 2%.
Pretty much everything works on cash rather than credit card so make sure you plan accordingly.
Edom hotel in Petra charges for wifi in the room. It is free to use in the lobby.
In Edom hotel in Petra, there are several steps to climb before you get to the elevator.
The boat for the optional boat ride in Aqaba was designed for a group of 6-8 and we were 13 of us. This happened due to a cock up with the boat company.
There was little room to move around which didn't feel like a relaxing ride. Particularly frustrating if you are not into snorkelling.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Not particularly. Hopefully spending money on food and activities helped the local people. Don't think I did anything for the environment or conversations.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
Overall it was a good vacation but equally there is a lot of room for improvement. See below for details:
1)Generally a well organised tour and most trips/activities were on time and as per itinerary (apart from a couple, see details in the NEGATIVE section
2)Good itinerary - one of the few tours that offers two days in Petra which is a must. Also, the other activities didn't feel too hectic which was good (apart
from the 7.30am camel ride because of a double booking issue!).
3)Tour leader was very helpful - he kindly dropped us at a restaurant for dinner in Amman on the night before the tour started.
4)Toledo hotel staff were brilliant on all fronts. One of the best service I have experienced in all my travels. I requested for my room to be changed from
twin to double which they did immediately and also organised a suite on my last night. The staff at breakfast were also very attentive. I would give them 5
out of 5 for everything.
5)Days Inn hotel was very nice
1) During the briefing on the first day of the tour, the tour leader proposed that around JD20 would be collected upfront for a central tips fund and the
money would be used towards tips for activities where all the members were participating. I thought it was very odd to have to cough up money before the
tour had even started and the whole idea just seemed like a programme to guarantee tips. Also, as it was the first day and I did not know the tour leader or
the other group members very well, I felt like I didn't really have the option to disagree with this scheme. One does not budget for this when planning on
how much cash to carry and hence it was inconvenient from a cash in hand point of view. Plus I still had to pay for tips which didn't involve the full group. At
the end of the trip, there was a small amount left over and it was not very convenient to have to find change in order to pay out 15 people. All of this was
done by the tour members rather than the tour leader. I think it would have been far more straightforward for each individual to pay tips on his/her own
2)Edom hotel left a lot to be desired. There was a charge for wifi in the room which we were not told about. One of the two lifts was closed for maintenance
and this should have been highlighted by them to the tour company and in turn to the customers. With a large number of tours arriving at the same time,
there was a 20 minute wait to get into the elevator upon arrival. To add to it, there were several steps to climb to get to the only operating lift which made it
further frustrating with luggage. The rooms in the hotel could do with an update.
3)The Turkish bath option in Petra was a shocker and total waste of 20JD. I would not recommend it to anyone. Firstly, the tour leader told us they accepted
cards but they only accepted Visa and charged 2% for it. The bath facility was 1 star, the scrub was less than 5 minutes; the whole process of steam to scrub
to massage to shower felt like an assembly line activity rather than relaxation of any sort. We were not told that a male would be doing the scrub for
women. We were told that there will be a private room for women for the massage part of the bath but it was not really private as one had to pass through
the men section to go the ladies section. Very forgettable experience!!
4)Day 7 - from Petra to Wadi Rum - was not as per the itinerary and was not very well planned. The itinerary says we would arrive in Wadi Rum in the
morning and the camel ride option was available in the afternoon. We did not arrive in Wadi Rum till 2pm - thanks in part due to some double booking
issue with the bus. As a result of which the two hour drive in the jeep didn't finish till 4.30pm and the camel ride had to be done at 7.30am the next day. This
early start was very undesirable and totally down to planning issues. There was also a 20 minute stop at a souvenir/coffee shop with a viewing point which
was not in the itinerary and seemed unnecessary as it was taken barely into one hour of driving and only seemed to further delay the arrival in Wadi Rum.
5)The boat tour in Aqaba was disappointing. It seemed to have been booked very last minute and a boat for 6-8 people was given for a group of 13. This
should have been a relaxing experience, but it just felt very crammed as there was just enough room for 13 people to sit on a chair and have all the
luggage/belongings touching you. Got even worse when some of them needed to get into the water for snorkelling. For people like me who were not
snorkelling, we just had to sit crammed in a corner. After some conversation with the tour leader he got us a 5 JD discount on the trip, but that doesn't really
make any difference to the experience itself and I felt cheated to have had to pay at all. Particularly as there was no option of staying back - we arrived in
Aqaba at 10.30 am and there was no hotel room available till 2pm and hence there was nothing else to do but to get on that crammed boat.
5)While the tour leader was a very well meaning and good hearted person, I expected much more in terms of information and commentary about Jordan.
The information he gave was very much limited to the sites we visited which is not what I have experienced on other tours. During the journeys -
particularly the long ones on day 3 and day 9 - there was no commentary at all. In fact the tour leader seemed to spend all his time on his mobile.
6)Every other tour operator I have used has given some sort of souvenir either at the beginning or at the end of the tour. I had nothing from Explore which
was a bit surprising. Doesn't have to be big - a water bottle, a kitchen magnet, the Arabic scarf etc. You would expect that Explore wants customers to
remember them and return.
1)Tour bus should have charging points and Wifi
2)Turkish Bath in Petra - please look for a better facility!!!And it should be made adequately clear that nearly all of it is unisex, they only take Visa and
charge 2% on it.
3)The Wadi Rum jeep tour should be longer. This would be helpful for people who do not want to do the optional camel tour.
4)Aqaba activities need to be better planned and planned in advance.
5)There should be some souvenir given to the tour members upon arrival to make them feel welcome - perhaps the Arabic scarf that could be used
throughout the trip.
6)This survey form could do with a bit of restructuring! There should be a more specific question/section for constructive feedback and suggestions. It
appears to avoid any questions that categorically asks for anything negative!
Read the operator's response here:
Hi Marjan, thank you for your feedback. I was pleased to see you enjoyed your time in Petra. Please be assured there was no issue with your boat booking, this aspect of the trip is optional so, like the baths, is booked on the day. These are independent excursions outside of your booking with us.
We mention in our trip paperwork why we use a tips kitty and how much it will be, so I am sorry you were not aware this would be an aspect of the trip. I am pleased we had the opportunity to discuss all the other features - such as accommodation/boats in line with your expectations. I am glad we were able to clear up some aspects which we donít provide as part of the trip or rearranged at the groups request.