Issues - Aug 14 - Aug 28, 2019

Traveler: Balisa B. - Local specialist: Matthew Altieri

Being as this was the first time to travel to Italy, I was at the mercy of a travel agency to help me set up and arrange certain aspects of our trip. My husband and I did not want the typical tour group travel as we like to travel at our own pace. I reached out to KimKim as they offered services for independent travel. I felt as if our specialist just threw some stuff together and changes that we wanted made was a struggle, because the reply at the other end was always, well we are here and we know what is best or what works best. One change that I am so glad I fought with was getting the specialist to change a Pizza Making class in Florence to a Pizza Baking and Limoncello Making in Sorrento, which was a highlight of our trip. I wanted a Pizza Baking Class in a Farmhouse.
Another issue we had was travel documents are suppose to be sent to you within 3 weeks of travel, we had to reach out several times to get all of our official documents. We had missing documents and it took until few days before our trip to get everything correct and in-hand, the first time being agency related and the second due to lack of my use of technology.
Keep in mind is in the US we are 6-9 hours behind so communicating with your specialist will be hard, as you are getting out of bed they are going to bed and if you work a day job an accepting phone calls are challenging for you at times this will be frustrating, even with the use of email.
We had KimKim to arrange hotels, train travel, a few VIP tours, three group tours, travel to and from hotels between train travel and travel to and from airports for us for our journey from Venice, Florence, Sorrento, and Rome.
I loved the suggest of the specialist to extend our stay in Venice so we could take a day trip to Verona as that gave us more time in Venice and not have to worry about keeping up with luggage for our day trip to Verona. I did not like the hotel that our specialist chose for us in Venice and once again this was something I tried to change, but the specialist said he had actually stayed at this hotel and that we would love it. I even went as far to state that I read tripadvisor reviews and room 103 was the worse and guess which room we received??? Room 103 and the desk clerk said the hotel is full so no room changes! I am allergic to mold so those 3 nights were a big struggle to me. Also we were quoted a double room with a balcony and guess what this resort doesn't even have balconies!! This hotel like all but one we stayed at was far off the beaten path, but it was convenient to the private water taxi for our luggage due to their dock on main canal. Our resort in Rome was so far off the beaten path that a taxi ride to any attraction was $10.00 to $15.00 bucks each way! But, as far as the employees at all resorts they were outstanding and went over the top to help with any of our needs!
The location of our Florence hotel was the best of our hotel stays. The second being Sorrento, but once again I asked the specialist to upgrade our room to a balcony with a full ocean view and he immediately stated it was not available, without even researching, but we were happy with our partial side view room once there.
Another issue was once we received our travel documents I noticed we failed to arrange transportation from our hotel to the train station for a day trip to Verona and when I asked the specialist how much it would cost for him to arrange for us, now keep in mind our vacation package was over $10,000.00, his reply was it would be to expensive for him to arrange, but it would be easy for us to do on our own.
In Rome I became ill and wasn't able to make the group tour to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican the specialist had arranged for us, we did receive a call from the specialist wondering if maybe we were lost which was very nice, and I stated no I was ill and maybe we could reschedule and his answer was no, no offer to help us set up a new tour, but my husband and I were able to set up a private one on our own which was very nice.
Also, two of our private drivers between trains and hotels did not speak English and one driver even told us that it was mandatory for all new drivers and guides to speak English.
We did like the fact that we had a travel agency to help us set up a few things, to take the some of the burden off of us, I just wish the communication was better and more emphasis was focused on our needs and wants.