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Queenslander

Level Contributor
8 posts
9 reviews
Queenslander

Does anyone have any comments on Queenslander (now Story Land & Sea) tours for Italy?

Level Contributor
8 posts
9 reviews
11. Re: Queenslander

The tour schedule indicates that there are three free afternoons and one free morning. Were there more free times than those listed? Thanks.

Nj
Level Contributor
13 posts
125 reviews
12. Re: Queenslander

We were free every afternoon. Tours ended between noon and 1:30PM.

San Jose, California
Level Contributor
47 posts
360 reviews
13. Re: Queenslander

I think because we're used to traveling on our own, the free time on this tour was a plus for us... we had 2 free afternoons in Florence; 2 in Rome; and a late afternoon free in Venice. We also had a morning free in Cortona, and an hour or two to wander around San Gimignano. No free time in Assisi.

I should add that we also had a special "Queenslander menu" at two of the restaurants we visited for dinner. But we were told that we could also order off the regular menu, and some people in our group did just that. Maybe this is something that has changed recently.

We didn't have a lot of add-ons. About half our group did add on tickets to the Uffizi in Florence, and one couple added on tickets to Villa Borghese in Rome. You can probably save money by buying these on your own.

And yes, I totally agree that it would be cheaper to plan and book a trip to Italy on your own! But for us personally, it was worth the cost.

Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
43 posts
47 reviews
14. Re: Queenslander

Respectfully, MoltoBeneItaly, although I believe Nada's Tours and Gina's Tours are fine companies I would like to encourage all interested travelers to conduct their due diligence to compare the companies and then make an informed decision. I'm not sure you've ever traveled with QueensLander. However, I would recommend advising TripAdvisor® users to read as many reviews as possible and make an informed decision.

Voorhees, NJ
Level Contributor
5 posts
13 reviews
15. Re: Queenslander

Can anyone share the names of the hotels assigned to them when taking the Queenslander (Story) Great Cities of Italy 'Classic' Tour. The on-line brochures usualy list two hotels as possibilities at each stop but always include the words 'or similar hotel'. I know the selections can change based on the tour date, but just curious as to what hotels are really being used.

Plattsburgh
Level Contributor
2 posts
152 reviews
16. Re: Queenslander

Hi, could you recommend a better company for ITALY? I really don't want to travel in large motorcoaches throughout the country but also don't want to overpay.

Any help is appreciated, thanks.

Nj
Level Contributor
13 posts
125 reviews
17. Re: Queenslander

I understand that Gate 1 Travel now has small group tours available and provide many, many, more activities than Queenslander Tours. I have heard some good reports about them but have not taken one of their tours yet. I am sure that there are many others providing a far better Italy experience. Having taken the Queenslander tour I haven't researched others. I would not recommend Story Land and Sea tours for any destination and certainly not Italy.

Our experience with Queenslander (now called Story Land and Sea) was quite disappointing. In our opinion the tours were minimal at best and included very little in the way of value. No matter what they say, the restaurants and hotel were nothing special and most of the advertising was "fluff". Every day ended at around noon and you were left on your own for "free time" or purchase something else.

We travel extensively and of all the tours Story Land and Sea was the most disappointing.

As one small example of their lack of attention to detail, with such a small group, the tour captain left for one of the tours he was conducting about 5 minutes early, never counted people and we were left in the hotel lobby. That's inexcusable with only 16 people and we were in the lobby at the appointed time.

Level Contributor
8 posts
9 reviews
18. Re: Queenslander

After much research, I've booked a Queenslander (Story Land & Sea) tour for later this year. Their staff has been very patient and pleasant to work with. Many factors led me to choose them.

Denver, Colorado
Level Contributor
43 posts
47 reviews
19. Re: Queenslander

Hi njtravelersus. See my replies to your comments about QueensLander / Story Land & Sea below. I've done some obvious comparisons to show you the difference between Story and large tour operators like Gate 1.

njtravelersus says: " I understand that Gate 1 Travel now has small group tours available and provide many, many, more activities than Queenslander Tours. I have heard some good reports about them but have not taken one of their tours yet."

Mark Story says: When you do an apples to apples comparison you will quickly find that Story has MANY more inclusions than the comparable Gate 1 Travel tour and unlike the Gate 1 Tour Director (and just about every other tour operator) Story's Tour Captain will not try to upsell you on more excursions. Gate 1 has a 9-night (11 day) tour and boasts the following (note my comparisons in parenthesis):

Small groups of maximum 22 travelers guaranteed (Story is a True Small Group at 16 guests).

9 nights First Class accommodations (Story features Deluxe 4 and 5 Star accommodations. Gate 1 says, 'first class' which is Tour Operator code for not necessarily 4 and 5 Star Deluxe. Do a review of their hotels on TripAdvisor and see how QueensLander/Story's hotels fare. Actually I've done some of the work for you below:

Gate 1 hotel: 2 nights Hotel Bonvecchiati, Venice (#151 on TripAdvisor. QueensLander/Story's is #38)

Gate 1 hotel: 3 nights Villa Olmi Firenze, Florence (#58 on TripAdvisor. QueensLander/Story's is #34)

Gate 1 hotel: 1 night Hotel Le Tre Vaselle, Umbria Region (#3 hotel in Torgiano on TripAdvisor. QueensLander/Story's is #1 in Cortona)

Gate 1 hotel: 3 nights Ambasciatori Palace, Rome (#473 on TripAdvisor. QueensLander/Story's is #303)

Mark Story says: In every category the position of QueensLander/Story hotels is superior not to mention the TripAdvisor rating. The staff at the Italian hotels frequented by QueensLander/Story are exceptional.

Gate 1 boasts: All transfers and sightseeing per itinerary in modern air-conditioned vehicles (more Tour Operator code for Big Buses. QueensLander/Story does not use Big Buses but instead uses a 22 seater with extra seats for their True Small Group). You simply cannot fit 22 Gate 1 passengers on a 22 seat minimotor coach. It's a big bus of at least 36 seats which means access to the quaint, smaller villages and city centers is restricted.

Gate 1 boasts: 15 meals: 9 buffet breakfasts, 2 lunches, 4 dinners (including welcome & farewell dinners). QueensLander/Story includes daily hot breakfast, 1 winery estate experience, the Gondola ride with musicians, 5 dinners with free-style dining where the wine flows. Story also includes a number of receptions called unique perspective experiences.

Gate 1: Wine is included with lunch and dinners (QueensLander/Story has unlimited Premium drinks, not just wine and likely Gate 1 has a cap on 1 or maybe 2 glasses per dinner. You should also compare the languages spoken at the Gate 1 restaurants from the other patrons with QueensLander/Story's....you'll see a major difference in the type of restaurants each company takes their guests).

njtravelersus says: "I am sure that there are many others providing a far better Italy experience. Having taken the Queenslander tour I haven't researched others. I would not recommend Story Land and Sea tours for any destination and certainly not Italy. Our experience with Queenslander (now called Story Land and Sea) was quite disappointing. In our opinion the tours were minimal at best and included very little in the way of value. No matter what they say, the restaurants and hotel were nothing special and most of the advertising was "fluff". Every day ended at around noon and you were left on your own for "free time" or purchase something else.

Mark Story says: I own QueensLander/Story and so obviously I have my own opinions. Your experience was unfortunate. It is interesting to note that no one else from your tour indicated anything negative in their reviews, to the contrary they raved about the Tour Captain, the exceptional dining experiences and thanked us for not being a TRADITIONAL tour operator and taking up every waking moment.

njtravelersus says, "We travel extensively and of all the tours Story Land and Sea was the most disappointing."

Mark Story say: I'm not sure what type of travel you do but by your own admission you have not been on any other tours or perhaps I misunderstood you when you said, ""I am sure that there are many others providing a far better Italy experience. Having taken the Queenslander tour I haven't researched others."

njtravelersus says "As one small example of their lack of attention to detail, with such a small group, the tour captain left for one of the tours he was conducting about 5 minutes early, never counted people and we were left in the hotel lobby. That's inexcusable with only 16 people and we were in the lobby at the appointed time."

Mark Story says: The Tour Captain had a VERY different view of this scenario.

The bottom line: travelers should do research, call and ask questions and then make a decision. Not all travelers will appreciate the services a tour operator provides while some travelers rave about it and never go back to independent travel.

Plattsburgh
Level Contributor
2 posts
152 reviews
20. Re: Queenslander

I can tell you we just did Queenslander or Story Land n Sea's Great Cities of Italy w/Amalfi ext and they exceeded our expectations in about every category! Top notch tour, hotels, dinners, tours guides in the cities and the tour captain himself, transportation and special surprises! You won't regret it!