England tours & Ireland tours.
Small group, leisurely guided tours. Lots of history & fun!
BUNRATTY CASTLE, SHANNON.
INCLUDED banquet in this authentic 15c MacNamara castle.
Enjoy an INCLUDED trip along Dublin Bay.
DURTY NELLY'S PUB, SHANNON.
Enjoy INCLUDED drinks in this historic tavern opened in 1620.
INTER-CITY EXPRESS TRAIN.
Enjoy INCLUDED train trips in Scotland & England.
DEVON CREAM TEA.
Enjoy an INCLUDED yummy Devon cream tea in Dartmoor.
BAKER STREET STATION.
Enjoy FREE travel on London Underground trains.
Enjoy INCLUDED dinners in ancient pubs like 800 years old Turf Tavern, Oxford.
THE MERRY PLOUGHBOY PUB, DUBLIN.
Enjoy INCLUDED music nights with dinner in Irish pubs.
IRISH SEA FAST-FERRY.
The Club Class Lounge is INCLUDED on certain routes.
Enjoy INCLUDED porterage at hotels.
THE ROCK OF CASHEL.
Enjoy an INCLUDED guided tour of St. Patrick's spectacular Rock of Cashel.
Enjoy an INCLUDED pint or two or three of Guinness in Ireland.
Enjoy your INCLUDED River Thames cruise.
England tours & Ireland tours : Our tours work!
THIS IS HOW WE ADDRESS THOSE CONSTANT GRUMBLES & QUIBBLES THAT PERPETUALLY BUG TRAVELERS ON EUROPEAN GUIDED COACH TOURS.
We are lucky! On our England tours & Ireland tours we only tour two countries, The Republic of Ireland & the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland. They just happen to be the top 2 countries for guided coach tours on planet Earth with great products! Ireland + the UK = 121,000 sq. miles which is the same size as New Mexico or Tasmania+Victoria or just slightly larger than New Zealand or half the size of Saskatchewan. We don’t have to rush you off your feet getting around as we are not talking about vast distances! Below are the top 5 grumbles. Once again it is easy to check these issues by visiting European coach tour reviews on Tripadvisor or Epinions etc..
1. EXPENSIVE & OVERPRICED OPTIONAL EXTRA TRIPS/EXCURSIONS.
We do NOT sell optional extra trips (excursions) during our tours. Everything that we think is worth doing we INCLUDE in the tour price. Optional extra trips are probably the most grumbled about aspect of European coach tours. Some tours are now selling almost one extra trip per day of the tour! Optional extra trips can increase the cost of your tour by 30%. In our opinion however the most frustrating aspect is that often tour itineraries that you pay for in the tour price have to be rushed through to fit the extras in. How strongly do we feel about this? We can only convey a small fraction of English speaking visitors around Ireland & the UK so if you can’t travel with us or don’t want to then visit CIE Tours & check on the page why they don’t sell optional extra trips either.
2. TOO MANY NIGHTS WITHOUT INCLUDED DINNER AND BORING FOOD.
We INCLUDE dinner every night in the tour price compared to many tours about 27% to 45% of nights & we believe we solve much of the boring, repetitive hotel food issue. There is only so much hotel chefs can do with a haddock. INCLUDED dinners with Jolly Good Tours are a mixture of hotel restaurants, castle banquets, pub dinners, posh places & independent dining. Those alternatives provide great variety. On independent dining nights it is even possible for you to pay a bit extra on top of the voucher if you wish to have a treat. For example if the dining voucher only gets you 7 donuts for dessert & you want 10 then just pay the extra. I am writing this bit on National Donut Day in the USA! We use a lot of Premier Inns in England, Scotland & Wales – we love them. Their hotel restaurants are run by 5 different ‘franchises’ which means you are bound to get variety even staying with the same hotel group. One big bonus, again with Premier Inns, is that at many of its hotels we do not have to dine as a group so you have a bit of flexibility with dining times. Nice touch!
3. AIRPORT TRANSFER CONFUSION.
Everybody gets an INCLUDED airport to hotel transfer on arrival day & v.v. on departure day with Jolly Good Tours. There are no conditions. Some tour operators only transfer you if you buy your air ticket through them. (Usually much more expensive than you pay online or through a travel agent. With one tour operator Miami to Dublin R/T was US$1000 more per person in March 2012. Jaw-dropping!) Many tour operators will only transfer you if your flight arrives before lunch so if your flight is late – good luck! Watch my lips …. “We will be there to meet you, wherever you buy your air ticket, whatever time you arrive on arrival day – end of story!”
4. TOUR ITINERARY WAY TOO RUSHED.
Here we have to ignore tours that visit lots of countries in double quick time as that is the idea of those particular tours which would be your choice. Firstly, as previously mentioned, one of the main reasons for a rushed tour is fitting in optional extra trips. We don’t sell optional extra trips so that solves that. Secondly our tour itineraries are designed to ensure many mid-afternoon arrivals at our end of day destination (EOD) actually giving you time in the place you stay. On many tours that just doesn’t happen. Thirdly we prioritize highlights by using 125 mph express trains sometimes & crossing the Irish Sea once instead of twice. There are too many other reasons to mention them here suffice to say tour design is crucial. We actually show on our daily itineraries how many miles we drive, time spent on the coach & expected arrival time at the EOD. As far as we know we are the only tour operator that shows that info. & it demonstrates our confidence in our more easygoing itineraries.
5. TOO MANY POOR HOTELS & WAY OUT OF TOWN.
We have stayed in 5* hotels that quite frankly were very poor for the money. Nice chandeliers in the lobby though.
- Our concrete policy is to stay in centrally located hotels so you can get out to explore or hotels by a beach or lake etc..
- If we can’t get one hotel but have to divide the group up into two hotels in order to stay centrally we will. Doesn’t happen often.
- On very rare occasions on a repositioning night we may stay at a motorway hotel for operational reasons.
- Oxford has a dearth of suitable large-ish city centre hotels mainly because the University has ‘owned’ the city centre over the centuries & often takes up most of the hotel room space for University events. Very few tours of our kind actually stay in Oxford for those reasons. We are not going to ‘not‘ stay in the wonderful city of Oxford because quite frankly it is brilliant. If we have to use an edge of town hotel in Oxford then we run INCLUDED transfers in and out in the evening. To a lesser extent the city of Bath falls into this category as well although it is improving.
- Mostly the hotels we use are modern with the odd olde-worlde hotel thrown in. Old character hotels are a nice idea but there is such a wide variation in hotel rooms we save those for our ‘haunted hotels tours’.
- Note we shuffle rooming lists (Like an iPod.) from hotel to hotel to avoid Mr. & Mrs. Abced always being at the top and poor old Mr. & Mrs. Zyxwu always being at the bottom.
Not allowed to sleep in during the tour! We haven’t included this in the list as No.6 because it is an infrequent grumble but it is worth mentioning. On a guided tour you are on the move most of the time except when you have multi-night stops. Most tour operators and tour guides rightly believe that you want to make best use of your time which prevents ‘sleep ins’. When prospective honeymooners look to go on one of our tours we advise them that a guided coach tour is not ideal for honeymoons! We won’t go into a lot of detail about that. Suffice to say that we believe in early starts & mid-pm arrivals. Even when we are based in one place for two nights we are up & at ‘em early. Far better in our opinion to spend an hour or so in a nice 400 years old English tea shop in the afternoon or wandering around the Irish Writers Museum in Dublin rather than laying in bed for an extra hour. We assume that you have beds at home but we don’t think you have a 400 year old English tea shop or the Dublin Writers Museum!
In conclusion then central locations are paramount to us. We endeavour to use hotels that are ranked in the top 33% on Tripadvisor & in any event Premier Inns win award after award. In truth much of the dissatisfaction voiced towards hotels by travelers on European guided tours stems not from the hotels themselves but the pressure many travelers experience during high-powered touring days. If you arrive exhausted very late afternoon or early evening at the hotel & then are under pressure to get changed for dinner whilst waiting for your luggage it is much easier to find faults than if you are relaxed. In our opinion it is not rocket science!