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Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

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Dallas TX
posts: 6
reviews: 56
Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

Do not use Pilgrim Tours!!! We just took Pilgrim Tours' 15-Day "First-Class" "Inspirational" Exodus tour of Egypt, Jordan and Israel. Be advised, go with another company. While pilgrim advertises this trip as using only 4 and 5 star hotels, what they do not bother to tell you is that in the Middle East, hotel standards are very different than those of the U.S. and Europe. The actual hotels that you will be in are horrible. They are old, with stained carpet and furniture, peeling paint, broken tiles and counter tops. The mattresses are very old and horribly uncomfortable and the sheets are terribly filthy. Pilgrim does not actually operate the tours themselves. They simply book everything and make the profit. They are just a third party. The tours are actually conducted by other companies in Egypt, Jordan and Israel. There is no representative of Pilgrim Tours actually present on the tour. When we got back from the trip and tried to confront Pilgrim's president about the problems, we were met with nothing but outright hostility and called liars. This is a very bad and dishonest company. Spend your money elsewhere.

Dallas TX
posts: 6
reviews: 56
11. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

Please allow me to clarify. I cannot persoanlly speak to the experiences that others have had with Pilgrim Tours. I can only say what I myself have experienced with them. If others are happy with them, then I am glad for those people. However, myself and my wife have been treated extremely poorly by this company and by its President. In my first communications with Pilgrim after returning from the tour, I was simply a very disappointed customer trying to express that to them. All I got in return was empty platitutes, justifications, and accusations that we were simply mistaken. As the conversation continued, he has gotten more and more hostile and threatening. Telling me that I have no right to post my opinion on here or anywhere else, and threatening legal action if I do. Again, I cannot speak to the experience of others, only my own personal experience. As an unhappy customer, I am appalled at the way we are being treated.

I do not know the exact business relationship between Pilgrim and the tour companies that actually operated the tours. However, for example, it was Sar-El tours that was our tour company in Israel. The bus said Sar-El Tours and all their literature said Sar-El Tours. We were actually very pleased with our guide and bus driver from Sar-El. No one from the actual Pilgrim Tours company was present in our group. The same was true in both Egypt and in Jordan where our tours were operated by two different tour companies.

There were a lot of promises made about the quality of the trip that simply were not true, and that is what we are upset about. The primary problem was the hotels. We paid a lot of money for this trip and to be put in such horrible hotels after being told that we were going to be in 4 and 5 star hotels was extremely dissapointing. The reviews that these hotels have recieved on this and every other travel site are correct, they are terrible hotels.

Pilgrim claims that they tell people that hotel standards between the U.S. and the Middle East are different. However, they do not tell you this up front. They include a tiny little note in the final information packet that they send to you about a 1 1/2 to 2 weeks before you leave (far too late for you to cancel your trip). We asked several times before we booked and even right after we booked what hotels we would be staying in and were told that they couldn't say because "they use a lot of different hotels and prices change, so they wouldn't know until right before the time of the trip." So there was no way that we could look up information on the hotels in advance.

Again, I cannot speak to the experience of others with Pilgrim Tours, I can only speak to my own experience. But I can say that I would never ever use them again, and will strongly advise all my friends and family the same.

Seattle
posts: 224
12. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

"However, for example, it was Sar-El tours that was our tour company in Israel. The bus said Sar-El Tours and all their literature said Sar-El Tours."

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Almost all out of country tour agencies use what is called a "local provider" for the actual day to day running of their tours. That is, a local tour agency that does the ground work where the tour happens. It's actually a pretty good system.

For instance, last fall I led a trip. My USA agency was Educational Opportunities, but the local provider was also Sar-El (who happens to be a well respected and well run agancy). Our bus and driver was borrowed from Aya Tours. That's how the business works.

Some tour agencies book people into "consoldated" tours. That is, tours that are run by a local agency that are open to any and all and any tour agent can book someone on. I don't think that's what you were on.

My guess is that your tour really was a "Pilgrim Tours" group, but that in each country there was a "local provider" that were the people on the ground running the trip. Again, that's normal.

Both the USA and local provider often work together on hotels and have price agreements with them. They may need to wait until a few weeks before a trip to see which hotels have available space at the best price.

While this can provide some savings, I always pick the hotels my groups stay at in advance, for some of reasons we are discussing.

I know you are disappointed, but I also hope that you can still step back and not let this cloud what I imagine was a wonderful trip. I'd have a good time in the places you went if I had to stay in a cave.

Linden, NJ
posts: 1
13. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

My mother and I took Pilgrim's 19 Day Exodus tour late July of '08. Aside from getting a little ill in Egypt due to carelessness on my part, we had a pleasant time. My mother has been on excellent tours of Israel and Egypt in the past and she found this tour to be just as enjoyable and fulfilling. Aside from St. Catherine (which we were warned about by Pilgrim) we found all the hotels to be pleasant. I am planning to take a tour to Turkey with them later this summer. It's too bad that Mr. Clark didn't have a similar encounter in his tour as I did with mine, but then again not everyone shares the same experiences in life, even when walking down the same path.

- Joe

posts: 21,540
reviews: 30
14. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

I am all for exhasuting debate but personally I feel this thread has run its course. We've had a post, a few rebuttals, some more views. Could we maybe now take this discussion out of the forum?

Jerusalem, Israel
Destination Expert
for Jerusalem
posts: 2,684
reviews: 36
15. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

Well said, Anon.

Hendersonville, NC
posts: 1
reviews: 4
16. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

I traveled on the same 15 day "Exodus Tour" in Nov/Dec. 2008 and did not experience any of the problems described above. It was a fantastic tour, and the accommodations were exactly as described. I higly recommend Pilgrim Tours and would definitely book with them again.

Eric Rufa

Hendersonville, NC

17. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

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18. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

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israel
Destination Expert
for Tel Aviv, Galilee, Israel
posts: 12,898
reviews: 37
19. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

This is really interesting. One person posts a negative review and all of a sudden several people remember that traveled with this compnay, not saying when, and having only praise. How wonderful and all by sheer chance. Well, I am a regular on this forum and I do not forget. So all these false posts are no good.

20. Re: Beware of Pilgrim Tours!!!

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-

TripAdvisor staff removed this post because it did not meet TripAdvisor's forum posting guidelines with regards to family-friendly language and/or subject matter. We will remove messages or topics that contain objectionable language and images (avatars or links to pornography), including but not limited to profanity, obscenity, vulgarity, pornographic literature, racial slurs, hate speech, personal insults, hostile comments and threatening language.

To review the TripAdvisor Forums Posting Guidelines, please follow this link: http://www.tripadvisor.com/pages/forums_posting_guidelines.html

We remove posts that do not follow our posting guidelines, and we reserve the right to remove any post for any reason.

Removed on: 11:57 am, July 02, 2012