I have read the reviews here about Senkron and they are all true! Where do we start with this nightmare tour? Let’s start from the beginning. Upon arrive at our hotel in Istanbul, my friend and I were immediately advised to take the Senkron ST-04 Bosphorus Cruise with Golden Horn. The booklet states that it is a half day morning tour which includes an Anatolian Folk dance show and stops at Pierre Loti Hill, a cable car ride, the city walls and a shopping opportunity on the way back to the old city. The hotel stated that half day meant that it was between 8:30 and 1:30. Trusting the hotel, we booked the trip and so the nightmare began.
We were picked up by bus at 8:30 am. We ended up driving around and picking people up from other hotels until 9:15. We then got to the pier and had to climb up some wooden stairs that were rotten and unsteady to the point that one man at the top and two at the bottom had to hold the stairs and our hands in order for us to get onto the boat. We then sat for over 30 minutes with no explanation of what the holdup was. At 10 am we finally set off – the female guide spoke in English and Spanish. Throughout the journey 4 young people (2 boys and 2 girls) had the back door of the cruise open, as they constantly dipped in and out to smoke. On a cold January morning, one can easily imagine how disrupting it was to the experience. The folk dance then started and we quickly realised that the 4 moody looking smokers were actually the dancers! The “show” started off with a girl walking up and down the boat unenthusiastically holding an umbrella and was distastefully chased by a desperate boy. She then dropped a handkerchief, which was apparently a signal that the chase was over. The boy picked the handkerchief up, linked her and they walked off together. This charade was followed by the 4 of them dancing for about 3 minutes with as much enthusiasm for being there as people waiting on death row show. It was absolutely awful. Surprisingly however, things were about to get worse.
By about 11:15 the cruise tour was over and we had dismounted the boat on yet again the unstable stairs. This time was even more hazardous as the snow began to fall. We were then abruptly ushered onto a bus which drove us to Pierre Loti Hill. As we pulled up, the female guide turned around and abruptly said “yes it’s snowing, so either come and take photos or stay on the bus -it is up to you”. Everyone disembarked and headed to the hill. By this point the snow was very heavy and the fog set in. In addition, two other groups of tourists arrived. My friend and I took some photos and then found that our group had disappeared. We looked around and even walked back to the bus and found no trace of our group or the guide. Cold, wet and confused we began to panic as we were deserted and had no means of getting back to the hotel. We went back to the hill and by chance saw a sign for the cable car. We went down the stairs and luckily found our group getting into one of the cars. The tour guide turned to us and said “ha! You were going to stay here. We were about to leave without you” and continued to mock us. I explained to her that other tour groups had arrived and we did not hear her beckoning our group to head to the cable cars and were surprised that she never attempted to find us. She just rudely shrugged at us. She the then told us to get into a separate car from the rest of the group – so we were left in the car with a group of strangers and no guide. The cable car flyover lasted all of 30 seconds. How Senkron has the nerve to class it as one of the main attractions I will never know - the tour booklet is misleading to say the least. As my friend and I disembarked the car, we found that our tour guide and our group, who were in the car before us, YET AGAIN walked off back to the bus and never waited for us. We literally had to shout for them to wait for us - when the guide knew all along that we were put in the second car behind theirs. As angry as we were at 11:45, we felt that the tour could get better as we had around another two hours left for the tour and were on our way to the city walls and a shopping stop, or so the booklet said. However, Senkron’s booklet misled us yet again. The city walls visit was actually driving past it on what seemed like a highway as the guide spouted out a couple of basic sentences on Constantinople that one could find in a leaflet. She then quickly hung up her microphone and started chatting and laughing with the bus driver. The driver was chatting back, whilst dealing with traffic on the road and also continuously texting on his phone. As we were sat directly behind him, we could even see that he was texting using whatsapp! Putting up with people’s misleading and rudeness is one thing – but what the driver was doing was actually dangerous. The final point in the booklet’s itinerary was ‘shopping opportunity on the way back to the old city’ – this DID NOT HAPPEN AT ALL. It was a complete lie. The tour concluded as the bus dropped us off outside the Blue Mosque at 12:15 – not 1:30 as promised! Another failed promise by Senkron.
We went back to our hotel, the Azade, and explained all these points. They were horrified and contacted the company to get our money back. The manager at Senkron said that they would not give us the money back and started to guilt trip us by saying things such as “should I give the money from my pocket?”. This is tasteless and a cunning tactic because they know we would say no and probably drop it. So he offered us a basket of fruit, which we declined.
Sadly, this is not an isolated case as when we read the reviews of Senkron on tripadvisor we found that other tourists faced the same problems. We are not the first people to be taken advantage of by Senkron. The fact that we paid 70 Euros for a service and did not get that service on so many levels is disgusting, appalling and disgraceful. Taking advantage of and misleading tourists who entrust these agencies with their hard earned holiday money to see the beautiful sights of Istanbul is unforgivable and they should be ashamed of themselves. Avoid this travel agency at all costs.
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