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Old 07-19-2010, 04:04 PM   #1
kjd469
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Back from Costa Rica - My thoughts on Tauck Bridges vs. ABD

Hi y'all...Just returned yesterday from our Tauck Bridges Jungles and Rainforests of Costa Rica trip. Having taken 2 ABD trips before, we decided to give TB a try after the new ABD itineraries came out last year, in which the EBD was eliminated and the prices went up. TB seemed to have a similar product for a much lesser price, so we decided to give it a try.

We had a fabulous trip!! We absolutely have no regrets about going with Tauck Bridges. There were definitely things that ABD does that TB does not, but also some things that TB does that ABD does not. Neither of the ABD things that were missing would have been a deal breaker, or were worth the $5000 + gratuities difference ABD was charging for the same trip.

The itinerary was fabulous, and included a night time trek to the Atlantic Ocean to watch the Atlantic sea turtles nesting and laying eggs (only on July and August itineraries), which the ABD trip does not offer....it was definitely one of the highlights of the trip!

One of the big differences we noticed with TB as opposed to ABD was that for the most part, for meals we were able to order whatever we wanted off of the menu at the restaurants...not the usual limited buffets in non-descript rooms that ABD often has. The food was very good and we were never hungry. Also, ALL of our meals were included with the TB itineraries, so we really spent very little money on extras...as opposed to ABD trips where you often end up spending several hundred dollars more on non-included meals.

Accommodations were good and in some cases the same as what ABD offers. Bottled water was provided and was plentiful. There was an information packet in our rooms on the arrival day, and the front desk was informative about the first evenings activities and where to go.

One of the things that was missing, that ABD does, is the photo CD...I have read from other TB reviews that their guide did in fact take photos and present them at the end, however this was not the case on our trip. While it would have been a nice touch, there was a a man on our trip who took hundreds of photos throughout the trip and will be sharing them with the others, so we were very fortunate.

The other thing that many people bring up regarding differences is the 2 guides vs. 1 guide issue. For our family, this is a non-issue. We are not the type of travellers who need someone to hold our hands the entire trip...just need someone to respond if there is a problem and present the information clearly and timely...we never once felt that there was something missing by not having 2 guides, but some families may have different needs than ours and feel this is important to them. Our guide had a wealth of information to share with us, and genuinely wanted us to have a good time...that being said, there really was very little interaction with the children on a "kid level", so if that's what you're looking for, TB may not be for you as ABD definitely has this one covered...our daughter is 15, so does not need that aspect.

Let me also point out this...we were fortunate enough to travel with an amazing, funny and friendly group of 29. I am sure this, combined with an excellent itinerary were the keys to such a great vacation. 22 of the 29 travellers in our group had been on ABD before and I believe we all agreed that this was a great trip and none of us would hesitate to travel with TB again.

Let me just say that if you are interested in seeing Costa Rica, that Tauck Bridges is an excellent alternative if you decide not to use ABD. This may not be true for all itineraries, but in this case I believe it to be true. Please feel free to ask any questions and I would be happy to answer to the best of my ability. (Feel free to post anything I've forgotten Jen)
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Old 07-19-2010, 04:21 PM   #2
Bobo912
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Thanks for the update kjd469. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed your trip.

Quote:
Our guide had a wealth of information to share with us, and genuinely wanted us to have a good time...that being said, there really was very little interaction with the children on a "kid level", so if that's what you're looking for, TB may not be for you as ABD definitely has this one covered...our daughter is 15, so does not need that aspect.
Regarding the kid interaction, my DS, for whatever reason, didn't have the level of bonding he had on our last ABD to Alaska, although he did have moments when he hung out with the other kids and had a good time. But a lot of the other kids did bond and I thought our guide had a lot of activities planned, especially on th bus, to keep the kids entertained. So as far as that aspect goes, I would say Tauck does at least as well as ABD. Sometimes the kids (like mine on this trip) just aren't into to it. And that's their choice, so maybe if I hadn't been so disappointed that DS didn't bond I would have enjoyed the trip more myself. I think I was more disappointed than he was. We both had a very good time though and would consider traveling with Tauck again.
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Old 07-19-2010, 04:28 PM   #3
kjd469
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I think the "kid interaction" must be dependent on the guide then...while we all agreed that he would be a fabulous guide on regular Tauck trips, we also agreed he wasn't really "Bridges" material. With the exception of a crossword puzzle and trivia questionaire - that was the extent of his kid-friendly activities for the entire week. We were very lucky in that ALL of the kids, from 7 - 18 bonded and spent almost every minute with each other.
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Old 07-19-2010, 08:36 PM   #4
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Hi kjd469,

We are thinking about taking this trip next year and glad to hear of your positive review. I was wondering about the accommodations at the Evergreen Lodge at Tortugero. Was it really rustic without the usual hotel amenities? Are the rooms actually individual bungalows?

Also, did you have any problems with insect, specifically mosquitoes? We're concerned about contracting malaria or some other funky disease from insect bites. Did you get any shots before the trip? Thanks so much!
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Old 07-19-2010, 09:01 PM   #5
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Interesting that we are starting to see some of the differences between the companies more consistently across trips. kjd469's comments confirms my belief that the ABD experience is more "packaged" - less dependent on the guide's discretion/personality as is TB. Kind of like the difference between a chain restaurant and a local restaurant. What you get is more consistent with the chain, and can be consistently good if you like it, where the local restaurant may or may not be "better" - depending on your taste and how it matches the style of the restaurant. Maybe this isn't the best comparison, but you get the idea. As I said earlier, my impressions is that the guides on TB trips are experienced guides and are seemingly given more leeway as to how to make the trip enjoyable. The "extras" are left up to them.
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Old 07-19-2010, 09:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DisFan10 View Post
Hi kjd469,

We are thinking about taking this trip next year and glad to hear of your positive review. I was wondering about the accommodations at the Evergreen Lodge at Tortugero. Was it really rustic without the usual hotel amenities? Are the rooms actually individual bungalows?

Also, did you have any problems with insect, specifically mosquitoes? We're concerned about contracting malaria or some other funky disease from insect bites. Did you get any shots before the trip? Thanks so much!
We were all a little concerned about Evergreen Lodge, as our guide had told us in the beginning that it had "rustic charm". I am happy to report that after the initial shock of the basic room, we grew quite fond of the Lodge and it's wildlife. The room has 2 double beds and ours had a third single bed, but not all do. Very simple furnishings and one painting on the wall. There is a rather large bathroom with a huge shower, sink and toilet, with plenty of amenities provided. Also a sort of closet/organizer complete with a safe. The weirdest part of the Lodge is that the rooms have only window screens w/ curtains....no actual windows - so it takes some getting used to since you can hear everything...birds, monkeys, bugs, your neighbors, etc. The rooms were connected in groups of 6 I believe and connected by raised walkways. The bungalow rooms are in the older section, which the Tauck group does not stay in.

The food at the Lodge was very good, and the Tauck group has their own dining room. They have a lovely turtle-shaped pool which the kids in the group loved. You may see all kinds of wild-life here including Tucans, Monkeys, snakes, birds of all kinds, and different animals that you may have never encountered!! It was very humid there, and we all never felt "dry"...even the beds felt wet, but again, you do get used to it. That being said, 2 nights was plenty for us, although for some in our group this was a favourite.

I can't stress enough to bring multiple bottles of mosquito spray. We ran out half way through the trip, but our fellow travellers were more than generous in sharing theirs. However, we still ended up with numerous bites even after using the spray. With regard to shots, there is not a vaccine for malaria...you can take preventative malaria pills, but they are the same as you would take if you contracted it, so we decided to not take them as a precaution since they are very hard on your stomach and we did not want to have to deal with stomach issues while on the trip. We will watch for any signs of fever, which is apparently the initial symptom of malaria, however, the chance of contracting it is very low. You should have hepatitis shots if you are going, but many people, including our family had already had our Twinrix shots several years ago, so did not need them for this trip. Ask your family Dr. what they recommend, but you really shouldn't need anything too elaborate.
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4 night Bahamas Disney Wonder March 2008
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:40 AM   #7
kristilew
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kjd469,thanks for sharing! It's great to have your Tauck reactions when I feel like I've gotten to "know" your travel style over the past couple of years. We are still so up in the air over what to do next. Are you looking at next summer yet?
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Old 07-20-2010, 12:13 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kjd469 View Post
We were all a little concerned about Evergreen Lodge, as our guide had told us in the beginning that it had "rustic charm". I am happy to report that after the initial shock of the basic room, we grew quite fond of the Lodge and it's wildlife. The room has 2 double beds and ours had a third single bed, but not all do. Very simple furnishings and one painting on the wall. There is a rather large bathroom with a huge shower, sink and toilet, with plenty of amenities provided. Also a sort of closet/organizer complete with a safe. The weirdest part of the Lodge is that the rooms have only window screens w/ curtains....no actual windows - so it takes some getting used to since you can hear everything...birds, monkeys, bugs, your neighbors, etc. The rooms were connected in groups of 6 I believe and connected by raised walkways. The bungalow rooms are in the older section, which the Tauck group does not stay in.

The food at the Lodge was very good, and the Tauck group has their own dining room. They have a lovely turtle-shaped pool which the kids in the group loved. You may see all kinds of wild-life here including Tucans, Monkeys, snakes, birds of all kinds, and different animals that you may have never encountered!! It was very humid there, and we all never felt "dry"...even the beds felt wet, but again, you do get used to it. That being said, 2 nights was plenty for us, although for some in our group this was a favourite.

I can't stress enough to bring multiple bottles of mosquito spray. We ran out half way through the trip, but our fellow travellers were more than generous in sharing theirs. However, we still ended up with numerous bites even after using the spray. With regard to shots, there is not a vaccine for malaria...you can take preventative malaria pills, but they are the same as you would take if you contracted it, so we decided to not take them as a precaution since they are very hard on your stomach and we did not want to have to deal with stomach issues while on the trip. We will watch for any signs of fever, which is apparently the initial symptom of malaria, however, the chance of contracting it is very low. You should have hepatitis shots if you are going, but many people, including our family had already had our Twinrix shots several years ago, so did not need them for this trip. Ask your family Dr. what they recommend, but you really shouldn't need anything too elaborate.
Thanks kjd469! Your answers were very helpful in our travel planning and we appreciate the helpful hints!
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:25 PM   #9
marcemch
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Tauck Payment plan?

By the way, I heard through one TB fellow traveller on my CA trip I just returned from, that Tauck allowed her to pay off her trip on an installment plan - interest free for a year. This is all unofficial, so I don't know the details. She said she didn't beg for it, or try to work a special arrangement, so it may be offered sometimes but not always. I thought this was a big incentive for many families that I believe you can only do with ABD with a Disney VISA card, and that's just 6 months interest free.
Something to look into if this is important to you and you might consider a TB tour.
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Old 07-20-2010, 03:38 PM   #10
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marcemch & kjd469, did you have a lot of repeat Tauck guests on your trips.
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:11 PM   #11
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Yes, I think that all but 3 of the 9 families were repeat Tauck families. Two families (including mine) had done ABDs only (Jomat) and one other family had never done a family tour vacation before at all. For at least one of the repeat families, I believe it was their first Bridges trips - the grandparents had done other Tauck World Discovery trips.
They definitely are a loyal group, and I don't think any of them would be open to Adventures by Disney, even though I talked to them about it and mentioned the ways that ABD does it better!
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:45 PM   #12
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kjd469 Question

Overall, did you like the Peru tour or the Costa Rica tour better? If you could only do one, which would you choose?
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Old 07-20-2010, 04:59 PM   #13
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Yes, I think that all but 3 of the 9 families were repeat Tauck families. Two families (including mine) had done ABDs only (Jomat) and one other family had never done a family tour vacation before at all. For at least one of the repeat families, I believe it was their first Bridges trips - the grandparents had done other Tauck World Discovery trips.
They definitely are a loyal group, and I don't think any of them would be open to Adventures by Disney, even though I talked to them about it and mentioned the ways that ABD does it better!
Yes, I thought they were extremely loyal too. I spoke to a few families about ABD just because I told them I had been on similar trips and they asked about it. There were a couple of people who asked me at the end how the ABD and Tauck compare. One said maybe they would try ABD next time, but her son works for Disney! Interesting story, her son wanted to work for Disney so badly that he moved to Orlando and got a job in the parking lot (I think that was where he started unless there is one step below that and his second job was parking lot). He gradually moved up, was a character for ahwhile among many other jobs. Got his degree and now is in their finance department. Everyone else I spoke to seemed completely unwilling to even consider anybody but Tauck and made fun of Disney - cheesy Mickey Mouse trip sort of comments. And I heard one family talking to the TD and she told them she had previous guests who had done an ABD and told her the kids hated the ABD trip. Wonder what trip that was???? Personally, I like them both, but prefer ABD. To each his own though. I know we have people who are just as loyal to ABD as these folks are to Tauck. But just like this year, I won't choose ABD over Tauck (or anybody else) if I feel the difference in cost isn't justified.

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Old 07-20-2010, 05:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MerissaAndMomLoveDis View Post
Overall, did you like the Peru tour or the Costa Rica tour better? If you could only do one, which would you choose?
While I would love to give you a definitive answer on that, both trips I would say were equal...it all depends on what you are interested in - if it's animals and wildlife, than I would say Costa Rica, but if you are interested in Macchu Picchu and exploring a really different culture, than I would say Peru...really both trips were fabulous!
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Old 07-20-2010, 05:16 PM   #15
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marcemch & kjd469, did you have a lot of repeat Tauck guests on your trips.
Most of our group of 29 were ABD families. There was one set of grandparents with their grandson who had been on several Tauck tours, but this was their first Bridges and one grandmother who also had taken several Tauck tours and had her grand daughter for her first Tauck Bridges tour. One couple had not been on any group travel before, but was the sister and brother-in-law of a family who had been on 2 ABD's. I got the impression from both sets of grandparents that they were very loyal to Tauck and saw no need to try another company. I also got the impression that since they had been on many trips with Tauck that they were given substantial incentives to continue travelling with them (something ABD might want to try!!
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7 night Western Carib. Disney Magic October 2003
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