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“Gray Line Chicago sucks! Choose the red buses instead!”
Review of Gray Line Chicago

Gray Line Chicago
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$89.95*
and up
Chicago Land and River Architecture Tour: North...
Ranked #167 of 213 Tours in Chicago
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: 2-3 hours
Owner description: Gray Line Sightseeing Bus Tours provide the most comprehensive Scenic and Historic sightseeing tours of Chicago. Our North Side Tour will take you from the heart of the Loop up the Mag Mile, through Lincoln Park to Wrigley Field and back. Our South Side Tour departs the Loop through Historic neighborhoods to Museum of Science and Industry and back. The Grand Tour combines both the North and South tours to get the most comprehensive tour of everything Chicago has to offer. Architecture, Skyscrapers, Parks, the Lakefront, Museums, Sports Stadiums and Historic Neighborhoods. Gray Line Chicago's fully narrated sightseeing bus tours will take you there. *Gray Line Ticket Office: Arcade Level of The Palmer House Hilton, Inside of'Feelings Gift Shop'.
Reviewed July 23, 2013

We were in Chicago this weekend and bought tickets for an hop-on-hop-off-tour. We have done many hop-on-hop-off-tours in many cities; this was the worst so far. 7 reasons why you should avoid this company:

1. Massive route changes without information ahead: There was a half-marathon in Chicago on that day, so one third to one half of the bus route was closed. They didn't tell us ahead that they skip this part. They just changed the route. When all the passengers started asking why we didn't go to the museum area, the guide was really surprised we didn't know about it. She said the ticket sellers knew ahead that there will be changes on that Sunday. No other guest on the tour was informed ahead. Everybody was angry.

2. The quality of the microphones sucks! In one bus it was even impossible to understand what the guide was saying, though we moved to the very front of the bus close to him.

3. The quality of the guides sucks! 2 out of 3 guides were really bad. The one other guide was ok regarding her knowledge, but she told it in a very boring way. Hey - your job is to introduce your city in an interesting way - that goal was definitely not reached.

4. They skip stops in-between without informing you: In the afternoon they were driving the "full tour again" (the half-marathon was over, by the way then it was already too late for the museum visit, so our plans for that day were spoiled) - but still they skipped stops in-between. We asked why they don't stop on a couple of places that are marked as stops on their map and the tour guide didn’t even know these are stops. She asked a ticket seller and was told that these are not "full" stops, they only stop there if somebody asks for it. Nobody told us ahead that we have to request certain stops and the map on their flyer doesn't tell that neither.

5. No good time schedule: On Sundays the buses go only every half an hour (they didn't tell us this when we bought the tickets the day before) - and you even couldn't rely on that. One time we waited 50 min and another time 45 min. That is not what you want to do if you just have two days to get to know the city - spending so much time with waiting for the transportation. By the way, the "red buses" (unfortunately not ours) passed by every 15 min, though it was Sunday.

6. Talking about waiting: they say the tour takes two hours - yes, two hours, but that includes standing on several stops quite long (10-20 min) and waiting for new passengers. That is cheating on the time of the customers.

7. Bad customer service: By the end of the day we were really angry. I called their service line to complain and they were so unfriendly. When we complained that nobody told us about the change of the route ahead, the women just said in a very arrogant way that it says on the ticket that the route and schedule can change due to traffic and that we knew that ahead. Well I am not sure if you can consider a half-marathon, which is planned months ahead and closes down part of the city, can be considered as normal "traffic issues". But obviously they didn’t care for that.

Conclusion: avoid this bus line. Use the competitor (the red buses), they might be more expensive, but at least you get something for your money instead of only frustration.

3  Thank NikasVacation
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 22, 2013

we used the hop on, hop off as part of the go Chicago card...what a joke!!...bus only goes one way, every half hour or so....why it wouldn't go in two different directions makes no sense...for instance if you get on at navy pier you can expect it to take at least 2 hrs to make it to the stop before you get to navy pier....the day we used this "service" the last bus for the day was running late, making us miss out on attractions we had planned to be at....there were other people trapped on this bus too....the worst insult was having to wait at field museum while our driver stopped to get himself a hot dog! when I asked the guide why in the hell we were stopping just so this guy could feed his face he told me that they don't get many breaks.....what the hell?...bring a packed lunch then....wouldn't you know it, we ended up with the same idiot driver the next day and he does the same damn thing....pathetic service....I hope that dude chokes on his hot dog next time

2  Thank boxingroo
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2013

So we arrived at the Palmer house with our Go Chicago passes and although the people in the office were swept off their feet they still kept a smile on their face and surprised me with the fact that I actually had a two trolley day pass.
The line to get on the bus was huge and we waited 25 minutes but we were lucky and managed to get seats, not together, but we got seats. Many people didn't.
Matt was our tour guide and I think the driver was Anton or Antonio. Matt's dry humor was refreshing and had everyone laughing.
The next day we got the bus from our hotel to the Aquarium. The bus took an hour to get there but the weather was fine and our second tour guide, Denise, made the trip a pleasurable one.
Overall I would recommend the tour but maybe on a day that isn't as busy because waiting for the bus took some time. We learned a lot about Chicago and were entertained for two days. So i think four stars is a fair score.

1  Thank 123Sully
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 16, 2013

This one was a dud.
As of this writing, I only have two reviews, both of Chicago tours. So you might think I'm a plant for the other guys, but I'm not. I swear!
My wife and I took the hop-on, hop-off tour as a way to kill a couple of hours before another event. The way I look at it, the most important, MOST MOST important part of a sightseeing tour is that you have have a knowledgeable guide.

Our guide was not knowledgeable.

Although I was kind of rooting for him because he was friendly and we both had on the same (non-Chicago) team's gear, he was not a good guide. Few facts, questionable 'facts', riffing for long periods on things not related to the tour...it was just...uncomfortable.

We bought our tickets at a kiosk right next to the river. The nice kid who was selling tickets had a bad card slider, so we had to pay cash instead of with a credit card. Not a big deal, but another example of the lack of quality control.

2  Thank Mark F
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 12, 2013 via mobile

One tour guide had lived in Chicago for a month and mispronounced Illinois (Ill-i-noize) and Soldier Field (kept saying "Soldiers"). While this was annoying because I grew up in Il, the "hop on, hop off" aspect wasn't a good option if you were wanting to go in another direction. We ended up doing lots of walking instead. Our Go Chicago passes included this, but it wasn't worth it.

1  Thank cjeek
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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