Posts Tagged ‘Customer Testimonial’

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Friendly Planet reviewed: One traveler’s experience on our Kenya Wildlife Safari tour

Are you dreaming of wide, open spaces, and exploring the great unknown on an African safari? If so, you’re not alone. That’s why our Kenya Wildlife Safari is a very popular tour among our travelers.

We recently received the below email from Carol Schmidt, who recently returned from this 11-day tour. We wanted to share her email with you (verbatim).

“We just returned from the Wildlife Kenya Safari and one would have to say, “Hakuna Matata” about any concern I had after reading travel reviews that the Intercontinental Hotel in Nairobi was less than satisfactory! It is disconcerting that one could complain about the accommodations. While it is an older hotel, it is clean and in a great location, particularly given the short amount of free-time we had.

This location gave us a chance to go to the International Market and to see the Parliament and governmental buildings. I would rate our breakfasts at the Intercontinental as scrumptious and the presentation was incredible! Who could possibly complain about fresh squeezed orange juice, Kenyan coffee with hot milk, and a variety of over 50 feet of food choices? It was absolutely awesome and the service was superb.

Thanks to Vintage Africa we had an incredible driver, Dominic, who has an A+ personality, and is probably a mixture of human/animal/bird! Dominic could sense animals before they were visible and he knew their patterns along with having a vast knowledge of their behaviors and instincts. He astonished us with his mastery of the bird species. We learned so much from him and it was so obvious he loves his job!

This was the most spectacular Safari we could imagine and we cannot thank all the Friendly Planet staff and Vintage Africa for making it one we will never forget. Our accommodations, the food, everything was simply marvelous! Friendly Planet was recommended to us by an unfamiliar traveler we met in California; now we will recommend Friendly Planet to our friends and acquaintances and we will be back for another adventure with Friendly Planet in the future! Asante Sana and feel free to share the good words. While the leopard is often difficult to spot, thanks to Dominic, we were fortunate to see him up close and personal! We hope you will enjoy the photo.”

Thanks for sharing such kind words, Carol! We’re glad you enjoyed your safari vacation with us!

5 travelers tell us why our Dubai tour is truly dazzling

Testimonials from our travelers offer non-biased opinions and real experiences of our tours. Since we have been focusing on Dubai with our “Be Dazzled by Dubai” Facebook contest in full swing, I wanted to share a few testimonials from travelers who went on our Dazzling Dubai tour.

But before I get to their feedback, I want to remind everyone that this is the last week to enter our Facebook contest to win a free trip for two to Dubai! So, enter now!

“Flying with Emirates was an amazing experience. The airline was extremely professional and the staff on board made the trip as comfortable and enjoyable as it could have been. The food, amenities and extras were wonderful. I will always choose Emirates whenever possible. The overall trip was wonderful too. The staff in Dubai was very helpful, knowledgeable, and eager to assist in making the guests feel at home. The hotel was neat, perfectly located, and had great service.” -Andrea Orbe-Martinez

“Overall, the process of booking with Friendly Planet was great and very easy. The flights on Emirates were amazing – the airline is wonderful. I also thought the optional tours were excellent. The dinner cruise and the desert safari tour were great. Everything with this tour was absolutely excellent. The destinations were fabulous, and the price was amazing. I have compared tour companies and the Friendly Planet price and what is included cannot be beat.” -Yameci Maldonado

“We were very pleased with the promptness being met and escorted throughout our tour. The hotel and transportation provided were very nice. Our tour guides were also well versed on the culture and history of Dubai. Overall, we truly enjoyed our trip.” – Albert and Zell Verschaeve

“A good package deal. Our tour guide was professional, knowledgeable and well organized. Also, the tour bus driver was courteous and alert. The hotel was excellent, had great service, and friendly and helpful employees. All of our included breakfasts were excellent too.” – Koumba Noni

Thanks to Andrea, Yameci, Albert, Zell, and Koumba for sharing your experience about our Dazzling Dubai tour. Have you been to Dubai on one of our tours? We’d love to hear from you too – comment below.

One young traveler’s perspective on Greece

A few months ago, I contributed my first article to the Huffington Post where I made the case that travelers should still be booking trips to see the fascinating, historical country of Greece. I also mentioned in the article that Eli and Aileen Fink, our CFO and Operations Manager at Friendly Planet Travel respectively, would be taking their two young daughters on a trip to Greece this summer.

Upon their return, I asked if they would like to share their experience on our blog, and an enthusiastic traveler jumped at the chance! Loren, Eli and Aileen’s 12-year-old daughter, was excited to blog about her family trip to Greece and what she saw while she was there. Read on to get the full story from Loren’s perspective.

Me, Loren, in front of Apollo's temple in Delphi“I have loved Greek mythology for the past two years and I was so excited when I found out that my family and I were going to Greece for a summer vacation.

The temples to the gods were mainly in ruins, just stones and pillars, but it was still so astonishing to see all those places and imagine what it was like centuries ago. It was a great experience. I got to learn new things, try new foods, and see mind-blowing places.

Greece is an amazing place. There are many beautiful sites to see from the Acropolis to Apollo’s sanctuary in Delphi. Greece has a long and interesting history, so you can learn a lot from visiting Greece, and if you love to shop, there is a place in Athens called the Plakka, which has many stores and restaurants. There are many things that will surely amaze you.
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Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of Vietnam tour in photos

Last week Sue Phillips of Solana Beach, Calif. told you the reasons why she keeps booking group tours with Friendly Planet Travel. After I published the post, Sue sent me some photos she took on Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of Vietnam tour.

Scroll down to give them a gander. And if you have photos from any of our tours that you’d like featured on the blog, e-mail me or post them on Facebook and tag Friendly Planet Travel in them.

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Outdoor market in Vietnam

Sue and Reed on Halong Bay, Vietnam

Sue and Reed in the South China Sea

Restaurant in Hanoi, Vietnam

Sapa minorities embroidering 

School in North Vietnam

Halong Bay, Vietnam

Why Thailand owns the title ‘incredible’

We recently announced new departure dates for Friendly Planet Travel’s Incredible Thailand tour, and they’re already selling out! However, I’m not surprised. Thailand is beloved by our travelers, including Dr. Ak Schmidt, a long-time Friendly Planet traveler who just returned from our Incredible Thailand tour.

She sent me an e-mail telling me why her tour was so wonderful, and gives some excellent advice if you’re traveling to Thailand. I copied the e-mail below (verbatim).

“the trip to thailand was indeed incredible! it sounds great on the friendly planet overview but it’s so much more! i don’t know where to start. hotels were great. everyone should stay at the dusit thani. we went back there for a weekend on our own.

our guide was awesome. she made extra stops for us along the road for things like sticky rice cooked in bamboo (loved that) and always asked if everyone had their passports, etc when we went to a different place. she took us on a boat to laos and everyone got their passports stamped and of course we got to shop a little.

as far as shopping goes, i’d say watch out. thailand has everything and you’re gonna want it all. bangkok is easy to get around in and has a super mall close to the dusit thani. one thing i would say too is that the golden buddha and the white temple should be emphasized more in the advertising because they are unique and more than amazing – truly incredible!!

i’ve been to egypt, borneo, morocco, cambodia, vietnam, kenya and now thailand with fp. going to south africa this summer. guess that tells you something. ps. will send pix if any are good, but jim yancey is gonna have the best pictures. you should pick some for your website. ps2, our guide, lek, was the best i’ve ever had and y’all have some good ones. and noni, her assistant had a cooler with ICE and COLD soft drinks and water. i can’t tell you how wonderful that was. a really great practice where it’s so hot.” — Dr. Schmidt, La Grange, Texas

Thanks Dr. Schmidt for the kind words! I look forward to hearing about your trip to South Africa with us. If you’re interested in experiencing Thailand, you can still book a departure date for the 14-day Incredible Thailand tour. But hurry, space is limited!

Friendly Planet Travel’s top 7 posts of 2010

I have to admit. A year ago at this time, I was shakin’ in my boots. We were about to re-launch the Friendly Planet Travel blog on a new platform and I wasn’t sure if our readers would follow us. Then my worries subsided when I saw that our readers did, indeed, come visit us at our new home on the Web. Thank you!

Upon this reflection, I thought I would share with you the blog posts that you loved the most since we made the switch. Here are our top seven posts of 2010.

1.) Vietnam is Anthony Bourdain’s favorite place on Earth to eat. The Travel Channel’s Anthony Bourdain traveled to his favorite place in the world to eat, Vietnam, for his show, “Anthony Bourdain No Reservations.” I share the Tony’s enthusiasm for Vietnamese food, and tell you how I happily ate my way through the country last year on my trip to Vietnam.

2.) Should you carry cash, credit, or a traveler’s check when traveling? A lot of us are accustomed to paying for most things with our credit or debit cards. It’s easy and convenient. But when you’re traveling, using a credit card might not always be the best option. So before you leave the U.S., I help you determine whether you should be carrying cash, credit, or a traveler’s check.

3.) The best travel apps for your smart phoneIf you have a smart phone, you probably have apps. So which travel apps are worth it? I can’t tell you (just yet), but Becca Torres of the Planet Travel Reservations team can. See which apps made Becca’s cut.

4.) Get exclusive savings on Friendly Planet tours with Hot Deals. For the first time, Friendly Planet Travel started giving subscribers to the Hots Deals mailer exclusive coupon codes on Friendly Planet tours. We told you all about how to sign up to not only get announcements on deals and new destinations, but how to save even more bucks on select tours.

5.) Advice on what you shouldn’t pack in your suitcase. Some people like to pick up every knickknack and souvenir they can get their hands on when they travel. From the hotel shampoo to the restaurant matchstick book, they shove it all into their luggage. Find out what you should keep and what you should toss.

6.) Friendly Planet review: A snapshot of the Best of China tour. Ron and his wife Jan booked the Best of China tour for October 2009. They came back with over 1,600 photos to share. We talk to Ron in a podcast to get the stories behind the photos and what travelers shouldn’t miss when they’re in China.

7.) What to do if you’re stranded in an airportWhat do travelers need to know in the event that some force of nature grounds air traffic and throws their plans into gridlock? I share a few suggestions you can follow if you find yourself stranded, sharing an airport with hundreds of other travelers in the same boat as you.

That’s my wrap up. And if there are any topics you’d like to see covered in the New Year, leave them in a comment on this post.

Taste of China tour guides shine bright in one couple’s eyes

Tour guides can really make or break an experience in a new country. Anyone who has ever gone on a group tour can attest to that, including Nicole Zuchelli and Zack Grahama. They just returned from Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of China tour and thought their tour guides took their experience to a whole new level of enjoyment.

Nicole and Zack sent me a detailed e-mail about how wonderful their tour guides were and what they thought were some of the highlights of the group tour. I copied and pasted the e-mail (verbatim) below. Give it a read. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Nicole and Zack in the Forbidden City

“Dear Friendly Planet and CITS,

We just returned from Friendly Planet’s “Taste of China” tour and we are two incredibly satisfied travelers — it was fabulous. Although we’ve been fortunate enough to travel pretty extensively in our lives, this was our first experience with Friendly Planet and our first trip to Asia. We’ve barely been back in the states for 48 hours and we’ve already converted our families into Friendly Planet fans via our ‘Taste of China’ travel tales.

We must tell you that National Guide, David Bai, runs an absolutely excellent tour. David is personable,exceptionably knowledgeable and is careful to keep things lighthearted and fun, all of the essential ingredients for magnificent group travel.

He went above and beyond to ensure that we enjoyed a unique and memorable experience and for that, we are grateful. We’re already thinking about returning for the ‘Best of China’ tour and hope that David can be our guide. Local guides, Alan (Shanghai) and Susan (Xi’an) were wonderful as well, taking extra care to answer all of our questions and it was obvious that all three of our guides took extreme pride in introducing their country to us.

The hotels were fantastic(particularly the Grand Mercure in Xi’an)and the food was delicious and plentiful — no one ever left hungry. Every restaurant that our guides took us to was great and almost all were filled with locals, so we really felt like we were experiencing the “inside scoop” as far as cuisine was concerned.

We feel as though we received amazing value for our money and returned home with a deeper appreciation for travel, a greater understanding of another culture and new friends halfway around the world. What more could you ask for? Xie xie!” — Nicole Zuchelli and Zack Grahama, Los Angeles, Calif.

Thanks for your note Nicole and Zack! Drop us another e-mail if you decide to book the Best of China tour.

Three-time Friendly Planet traveler reviews our South African Explorer

Before Friendly Planet’s South African Explorer tour sold out for 2010, Holly Pecarek from Atlanta, Ga. was able to book a reservation. When she returned from South Africa, she sent me an e-mail that made my day.

While I was reading it, I found out that this was her third tour with us. Thanks Holly for continuing to choose Friendly Planet Travel! Read on to see what makes Holly a loyal customer. I copied the e-mail below (verbatim).

“Unreal trip! This is my 3rd tour with Friendly Planet and I have enjoyed every one of them. It was so organized and the guides so friendly! I don’t know how you all make any money because the accomodations are always top-notch! Amazing trip from start to finish. I can’t wait to pick my next trip! Thanks for everything!” – Holly Pecarek, Atlanta, Ga.

Thanks again for your note Holly! I look forward to hearing about tour number four. 😉 And for the rest of the folks out there, if you’re disappointed that our South African Explorer tour is sold out, don’t be! Take a gander at our new Best of South Africa tour. Departure dates are still available for 2011.

Friendly Planet review: An in-depth look at the Taste of Vietnam tour

You might remember me writing that Vietnam is one of my favorite countries to visit. And I not only love it for its extraordinary beauty and charming people, but for its delicious food. I never thought I’d find another traveler who is as enthusiastic as me about Vietnam, until I met Charlie Clarke from Calgary, Canada.

Charlie and his partner Wayne recently returned from Friendly Planet Travel’s Taste of Vietnam tour and thought it was fantastic. They departed on Sept. 22, and when they returned, Charlie sent me an e-mail detailing every part of the trip he and Wayne particularly loved. From the hotels, to the food, to the tour guides, he explained why it was such as great trip.

One of our Friendly Planet bloggers, Melissa, followed up with Charlie on the phone to get a first-hand account of his experience on the Taste of Vietnam tour. I wanted to hear exactly how Friendly Planet stacked up against his past travels, and what made his trip fantastic. Listen to the podcast if you want to know what the tour is like, start to finish, from a Friendly Planet traveler.

In the podcast, Charlie takes Melissa through Vietnam’s largest and most important cities: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi. In Ho Chi Minh City, Charlie duck-walked through the Cu Chi Tunnels, learned how to make rice paper, ate elephant ear fish, and more.

In Hanoi, his group got the chance to celebrate Vietnam’s 1,000 year anniversary on Oct. 1. They also took in a Water Puppet show, an ancient form of Vietnamese entertainment, and more. Charlie was more than impressed with Friendly Planet’s tour guides in both cities because as he says, “they give you information that you can’t find on Google.”

In addition to talking about the tour, Charlie offers advice on what to pack when traveling to Vietnam in September, how to pack lightly, and what to expect in terms of the weather. He also gives you a lesson in Vietnamese culture by sharing some gestures you should use and clothing you should wear to show respect.

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more information in the podcast that’s incredibly valuable to anyone wanting to hear first hand what a Friendly Planet Travel tour to Vietnam is really like, directly from a just-returned traveler. All of us at Friendly Planet are grateful to Charlie for sharing his experiences with us, and we look forward to having him with us on tour again very soon!

Charlie in the Cu Chi Tunnels

Charlie and Wayne on Halong Bay

A spectacular view of Halong Bay

A Michigan family’s adventure on Friendly Planet Travel’s Athens and 4-Day Greek Isles Cruise

Taking your whole family to the Mediterranean can be an adventure of a lifetime, and it sounds like it was for Sarah Hirsch from West Bloomfield, Mich. She went on Friendly Planet Travel’s Athens and 4-Day Greek Isles Cruise with her husband, Kevin, and son and daughter, Jacob and Elena.

The Hirsch family recently returned from their tour of Greece and sent me an e-mail recapping their trip. I thought I would share with you all the kind things Sarah had to say and her beautiful photos. Thanks Sarah!


Our family at the Acropolis in Athens, Greece

It may be a small world after all, but it sure seems big when trying to narrow down vacation options. Luckily, Friendly Planet Travel makes planning a vacation easy with a variety of specific itineraries of the best destinations around the world.

I had always wanted to go to Greece and see the beautiful islands, and visit amazing historical sites like the Acropolis, Agora, Plaka, and Panathenaic Stadium.

The Athens and 4-day Greek Islands Cruise itinerary offered by Friendly Planet provided me the opportunity to do all of this and more. With help and guidance from our Friendly Planet Travel agent, Becca, it was easy to prepare for a once in a lifetime family vacation.

Our journey began with an overnight flight to Europe, and our layover in Germany gave us a morning to explore the lovely Frankfurt. We arrived in Athens in the late afternoon, and were met by a Friendly Planet representative who brought us to our hotel.

Our family on the Greek Isles

It was so nice to eliminate the stress of handling ground transportation as that was all taken care of, since it is included on every vacation booked through Friendly Planet.

Our evening consisted of an informational meeting with Yanni, our Friendly Planet point person in Greece, who gave us all of the information we would need for our cruise and oriented us for the week.

We chose to have dinner at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant, which featured a view of the Acropolis all lit up for the night like a beacon welcoming visitors to Athens.

The next morning we were taken by bus to the port, where we embarked on our cruise. The ship brought us to the ports of Mykonos, Kusadasi (Turkey), Patmos, Rhodes, Crete and Santorini in the span of four days and four nights.

We were at each destination only briefly, just long enough to taste each island’s unique flavor. These ports of call are so fantastic that even to simply walk around town and spend a few moments dipping our feet into the Aegean Sea equalled an incredible experience.

Elena and I in Ephessus, Turkey

Friendly Planet offers optional excursions for an additional fee in each of the ports. We mostly chose to explore on our own, though we did take an organized tour that we booked through Yanni to the ancient ruins in Ephessus in Turkey, which gave us a look back to the way of life experienced thousands of years ago.

Our final stop was Santorini, which is so unique a place on Earth that it kind of blows your mind a little!

After the cruise, we had two more nights in Athens. Our hotel was located just a couple of minutes walking distance to most of the best sites to see in Athens. Because we chose to go during the middle of summer, the temperature hovered around 100 degrees, so we broke up our days by spending the siesta hours at the hotel pool to keep us cool.

Kevin, Jacob, and Elena in front of Greece’s famous windmills

We began our days with the complimentary breakfasts at the hotel, and spent our mornings and evenings seeing Athens’ great sites.

From the Parthenon and Acropolis, to Syntagma Square, where we used the free wifi to check in back home. The Parliament building where we caught the changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier, the Ancient Agora, the Temple of the Olympian Zeus, the Panathenaic Stadium, home of the first modern Olympics, the new Acropolis museum, the National Gardens, and the Plaka, the main streets of Athens, where we found many great shops and restaurants to enjoy.

We left early on our final morning, with a 3:30 a.m. wake-up call, but as tired as we were, Yanni was there with a friendly smile to help us arrive in the right place at the airport.

Overall our voyage was indeed incredible. It was everything that I had always imagined my desired trip to Greece would be, without any of the stress that can come along with trying to manage all the details of traveling abroad. I will always be grateful to Friendly Planet Travel for providing my family with this wonderful experience. Thank you!

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