Super Sightseeing Tours
We joined a Super Sightseeing Tour to Carmel and Monterey while vacationing in San Francisco. More on the actual tour and destinations in the coming days but here are a few points which I thought are worth noting about the tour operator itself and going on a guided tour, in general.
The Super Sightseeing Tour is quite convenient. They do hotel pick-ups and in our case wherein we were not staying in a hotel, we were able to find the hotel nearest us where they do pick-ups. We had to be at the Hyatt Hotel Burlingame at 7:45am. That's quite early for someone on vacation but we had to go to their office in San Francisco where the tours originate. The Carmel and Monterey tour which we joined, begins at 9am and we were all dropped off at the office to make our payment. The tour that we joined costs USD 78 for adults and USD 50 for children aged 5-11.
Before getting to the office, we did a round of hotel pick-ups and the guide/driver (his hair was in a ponytail, I forget his name now) was quite entertaining. He was friendly and witty and it was just too bad that after getting to the office, he had to handle another tour.
Well, not all tour guides/drivers are created equal. The one who took over our tour was not warm at all and for some reason, I thought he was just going through the motions of his job. He shared a lot of information but it was quite robotic. I didn't get the feeling that he enjoyed his job. He also made comments early on about keeping the bus clean, about not talking when he was talking (as the other tourists might want to listen to what he was talking about), and how we are very welcome to give him some "gratuity" at the end of the tour.
The bus that we got didn't have a bathroom so we had to do bathroom stops every now and then. I guess whether you get a bus with a bathroom or not depends on the number of people who sign up for the tour. For the Carmel and Monterey tour, though, I would think that given the length of the trip, they should really assign a bus with a bathroom. Two hours travel time, one way, is quite long and when you have kids onboard, it really is more convenient to have a bathroom on the bus.
The group that we joined was a mixed group. There were Westerners and Asians, old people and young ones, but I think we were the only family with kids. As such, we were usually the last to board the bus on most of the stops. That's one thing that isn't too nice when you join a guided tour with kids. Kids can't move as fast and they really don't have a sense of time and urgency as adults do. With kids then, your best bet is to go on your own, where you control your time and where you don't need to be constantly watching out for the time because you need to be back on the bus. Going on your own will make you feel more relaxed.
There were a few friendly people on the tour that we joined. One grandmother was particularly friendly. I think she remembered her granddaughter when she saw Ali. She even told Ali: "I have a granddaughter just like you. Her name is Natalie." She also offered to take our photos at some time as she noticed that our family pictures were never complete as one of us always had to take it.
All in all, I wasn't too happy with the tour that we joined. I thought it was quite expensive, rushed, it didn't allow enough time for the Monterey Aquarium, and the road trip was quite long (I think our family was not meant for long road trips.) The Monterey Aquarium should be a tour in itself, I think. Still, that's just one tour. Maybe our tour guide was also not engaging enough. During the hotel pick up, I overheard some other tourists saying that this was their second tour with Super Sightseeing and it seemed they were happy with their previous tour. Oh well. Maybe it's just a matter of choosing the right tour and having the right guide. Still, given that experience, we held off on joining the Wine Tour at Napa and Sonoma. Maybe next time -- when the kids are bigger or when we can travel without the kids.
If you wish to inquire about Super Sightseeing Tours, you may call them at (415) 353-5310 and you can visit them at www.supersightseeing.com They offer other tours like: San Francisco City Tour, Muir Woods and Sausalito Tour, and the Yosemite Tour.
To read about what Manuel thinks, here is what he wrote about the Monterey and Carmel Tour
[By Angelica Viloria | Tuesday, June 5, 2007]
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