What to Expect
A considerable amount of effort has gone into identifying high quality, comfortable accommodation for our guests.
The majority of our hotels are four star or above, but occasionally our search for historical locations takes us well 'off the beaten track' and we may settle for a good three star establishment.
All hotels have been selected for their character, location and facilities – often they have a historic link to the tour theme.
Food And Drink
You will find breakfasts served in your hotel each morning.
We normally stop for an informal light lunch each day – or provide one.
When it comes to the evening meal, many of the hotels we select specialize in regional cuisine – alternatively we will dine as a group at local restaurants within walking distance, where we will always try to ensure that menu choice is available. We leave the choice of wine and beverages to you, although drinks will occasionally be included with meals where it is the local custom to do so.
For details of exactly which meals are provided, see the 'essentials' box found alongside each tour's itinerary.
We use modern, comfortable, airconditioned coaches on all our tours. But their specification will be dependent upon the group size and therefore we cannot guarantee that WC facilities will be available on board, although we will ensure that we make regular comfort stops. As no smoking is allowed on board the coaches, smokers will also benefit from such a routine.
A particular feature of our tours is their informality and inclusiveness.
Our groups are drawn from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and interests – but the common theme and the skill of the tour guide/manager ensures that everyone feels welcome and relaxed. Clients get to know each other well and, if not already, become great friends. For that reason we have restricted the numbers on each tour to between 6 and 20. This means that we can include more in our daily activities as there is less time spent waiting for others to catch up.
Small groups are also welcomed by local restaurants which results in a greater variety in dining. And most importantly, it means that you can spend more time with our expert tour guides and, should you require it, get more attention from our experienced tour managers whilst we dine together.
The Cultural Experience is a member of the Travel Trust Association (TTA) which provides a very secure form of financial protection as your money is placed into an independent trust account on your behalf – and we cannot draw on it until your holiday is satisfactorily completed. Our membership number is U6964 and you can find more information about the TTA here.
Furthermore, we hold a Civil Aviation Authority Air Travel Organisers Licence (ATOL) – so you will never be stranded. Since October 2012 all ATOL licenced companies must issue an official certificate to accompany your booking confirmation. Our ATOL number is T10153 and you can find out more about ATOL here.
Finally paying for your holiday using your credit card or visa debit card (in UK) gives you extra peace of mind by virtue of protection under Section 75 of the UK Consumer Credit Act (1974).
Extensions, Upgrades, And Regional Flights
Subject to availability we can lengthen your holiday, or combine it with another, by extending your flight dates, booking the extra accommodation and making other ground arrangements.
We can arrange pre and post tour hotels and regional flights to the tour departure airport. Short-haul flights can usually be upgraded to business class and long-haul to either first or business class. Often it is possible to provide connecting flights from Manchester and other regional airports to worldwide destinations. Please enquire when you book.
Fitness To Travel
Our tours vary as to the amount of physical activity involved and participants have asked for further guidance in this respect. All tours involve a fair amount of walking often over uneven cobbled streets, hillsides or steps. Participants on all tours should be able to walk or stand for at least 60 minutes [to, and at, each observation point] without aid or requiring a rest. You should also be able to carry your own luggage as porterage is not provided. For tours travelling by rail we recommend a suitcase with wheels. Within this all-embracing criteria we have graded each tour as:
Level 1: Tours where the group is generally conveyed by coach between stands – with walking confined to a short stroll to each observation point. Although stamina is required for the standing/walking involved at and around each observation point, museum, etc., the tour is generally untaxing physically.
Level 2: This is our standard tour type. Participants necessarily indulge in a certain amount of walking along country tracks and up slopes in order to reach vantage points from which to view the battlefields concerned. As these vantage points may be exposed to sun, wind or rain, sensible shoes and outdoor clothing are needed – but no more than on a country ramble at home. Distances of up to a few miles a day may be involved - which any reasonably fit person should be able to cope with.
Level 3: These are tours involving requiring a higher level of fitness and stamina i.e. our ‘walking tours’ or those tours regularly involving uphill stretches or walks of more than a few miles a day. Such tours take participants off the normal tourist trail, so suitable walking gear and a day pack will be required. But again, there is nothing here that a regular walker could not cope with.
Hybrid: Where a walk is described as e.g. Level 2/3, this means it is a Level 2 tour with one or two short Level 3 pitches (e.g. a steep climb) which could be avoided by less able participants rather than holding up the rest of the group.
The Cultural Experience reserves the right to refuse to carry anyone who has failed to notify them of any disability requiring assistance, or who in The Cultural Experience's opinion is unfit to travel.
To participate in any of our tours you must ensure that you have adequate holiday insurance to cover: cancellation and curtailment up to the cost of the holiday for each participant, medical expenses, emergency repatriation, loss of luggage, travel delay plus loss of personal items and cash.
We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party be adequately insured as soon as you book your holiday. In any event you must let us have details of your insurance policy at least four weeks prior to departure.
The cost of visas is not included in the price of each tour.
Approximately eight weeks prior to your departure we will mail you the requisite supporting documentation for your visa application together with the relevant embassy contact details and the name of our visa handling company.
Some countries such as Oman allow you to purchase your visa on entry. Of the countries we plan to visit in this programme presently Russia, Belarus, Turkey, Burma, Uzbekistan, Iran and India require visas to be obtained in advance. The USA requires advance ESTA authorisation.