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2016 Rio de Janiero Carnival


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DO YOUR HOMEWORK

 

In September 2015 I was looking for a tour company that could show me the highlights of Rio in a small group setting and assist me purchasing Carnival Tickets and Sambadrome transportation. Tours - Rio Carnival Packages received 5 star rating on cruise critic and Facebook. I started chatting with Marcelo Zahar who was extremely helpful professional and very interested in assisting me with my Rio Carnival 2016 trip. We arrived on the Celebrity Infinity ship on Feb 07 16 - Sunday for a 9:15am Pick Up - Full Day Christ Statue

and Sugar Loaf Tour - Entrance fees included in both. Marcelo met us at the pier at 8:30 to hand out the Samba Parade and transportation voucher and instruct us to go back into the cruise terminal to the cashier for our instructions. To make a long story short the tour WAS NOT with Dobrazilright:( but with the cruise terminal tour company the SAME company that was offering tours to all five ships that were in the port. Out tour did not start until after 10:30 so we waited two full hours sitting in the terminal. We could of walked off the ship and did the same thing we might have even had an English speaking guide. Our guide was very nice but she did not speak any English and she probably was not even a tour guide since she was not able to answer any questions about the city. We paid $600 for a shuttle van to the Christ statue and the Sugarloaf. She did not come with us. We found an English guide at the top of Sugarloaf who we listened to explain the different area of Rio that we were looking at. We would have done better to catch a cab to both places and save ourselves a lot of money.

 

Samba Parade 08Feb16 - We purchased round Trip Sambadrome Transfers -

7:50pm Port Pick Up and we were late and missed half of the 1st school. We purchased Section 8 tickets where the locals go so we had to stand from 10 pm to 3 pm because no seats were available and we had a very hard time seeing for $1,010.00 Again purchased through Marcelo Zahar Dobrazilright Tours .

We were so looking forward and expecting an amazing experience. The Samba Parade is well worth the money... Take your own transportation traffic is heavy as to be expected and get to the Sambadrome NLT 9:15. They start at 9:30 and it will take you 10 minutes to get to your section. Section 9 is the Tourist section.. same price and they clear out by midnight.

This was a once in a lifetime trip and I should of stuck to TripAdvisor where I get all my tour companies from and have not been disappointed in 10 years. The transfer was $275 pp and we were late and the tour company seemed not to care.

 

Lesson Learned; Extremely disappointed do not recommend this company for Rio Carnival Packages for cruise passengers.

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I'm sorry but I don't find those who sign up to any travel forum simply to post a complaint particularly credible.

Most of what you are complaining about can be considered as a result of doing insufficient research, not doing your due diligence.

If the extraordinary prices you quote are in US dollars and not Brazilian reais, then old PT B was certainly right. If sector 8 tickets were the same price as the sector 9 for tourists, the sector 8 tickets were a huge ripoff. (Every reseller has a mark up, but usually they are proportional to the original LIESA price.)

 

It is quite easy and cheap to simply take taxis around Rio, including to and from the Sambodromo and the usual tourist sights, even at Carnaval.

The only Sambodromo sector that has reserved seats is sector 9 for tourists. That is clearly explained on any site or guidebook describing the parades, as is the atmosphere in other sections. There is nothing to indicate that any grandstand spectator outside of sector 9 should have the expectation of reserved seating, nor sight lines to the parade without standing alongside the others.

There are 6 top schools parading on Sunday and 6 on Monday of each Carnaval, and the last school finishes in the early morning. Given that most tourists can't tell one school from another, even arriving a tiny bit late should provide plenty of pageantry; not sleeping until it's dawn is part of the overall Carnaval experience.

 

Also certain so-called experts on the TA Brazil forum have very little personal experience in Rio, or the rest of the country, but pontificate on all sorts of issues that could negatively effect the trip of someone that does not know better. This Marcelo guy has been indicated quite heavily on that forum mainly because of one poster (who bought just tickets from him one time a few years ago) who initially recommended dealing with him to some people who were leary of the larger Carnaval ticket sales agencies that had became overwhelmed by popularity. Apparently now so has he.

More effective than posting here would be commenting on all the many threads that now mention him or any other Carnaval ticket agency.

That forum, and particularly the poster who puts up every bad incident in the local news no matter if it happened far from any tourist area, reinforces the idea that Rio is too dangerous for any tourist to get around independently. Not true IMO.

 

Hope that in the end, you enjoyed the city and the parade.

Edited by VidaNaPraia
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Life On Beach- Thank you for your prompt feedback on my experience with Dobrazilright Tours. It was a review and not a complaint but appreciate where you are coming from. I read a raving review for Dobrazilright Tours on cruise critic travel forum in September 2015. I felt compelled to start a new thread with a current review on the travel forum.

Your opinion concerning my post and its credibility is simply your opinion.

Have a great day and enjoy your upcoming cruise.

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The only mention here (found by a search) on this forum of Marcelo Zahar or DoBrazilRight is a post by HJB on September 22, 2015 asking for feedback on his services.

My response at that time as well was that what was offered was easily done by taxi or otherwise on one's own (ticket purchase, etc).

 

There are many sites online with clear and extensive information on Rio and its Carnaval that can help to inform a new visitor. Asking questions on a travel forum such as this, previous to travel, can also prove helpful and educational.

 

Carnaval represents an opportunity for many in Rio to make most of their yearly income. It would be difficult to turn down business. As I mentioned, Marcelo was suggested on TA as an alternative to another large, longtime, online Carnaval ticket and transport site that had gotten overwhelmed one year and apparently lost the trust of some one-time newbie Carnaval tourists who don't understand how the ticket sales process works anyway. Perhaps the popularity that comes to a small mostly seasonal business like Marcelo's, which quickly got a lot of publicity, led to that business too becoming somewhat overwhelmed by high demand this past Carnaval. The longtime business seems to have regained its equilibrium for providing good service, and there is no evidence that DoBrazilRight might not do the same for next year's Carnaval and others in the future.

 

My opinion is indeed my opinion, but it may well be the most informed one (or one of a very few) on this forum regarding Brazil, based on two decades of regular travel and daily life there.

Also, people signing up to post a negative review or complaint is widely regarded on all travel forums as a dubious practice.

(Note: I have no affiliation whatsoever with Marcelo/DoBrazilright or with the larger Carnaval business mentioned.)

 

I would urge anyone reading this "review" not to jump to any conclusions after seeing it, and to do sufficient homework to clearly understand their options for enjoying Carnaval in Rio before using it to make any decisions for future Carnavals on how to do so and with whom.

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We had a group that used Booker International last year for Carnaval and it worked well. The return trip was a little chaotic but we got back. It is a fantastic event.

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  • 2 weeks later...
DO YOUR HOMEWORK

 

In September 2015 I was looking for a tour company that could show me the highlights of Rio in a small group setting and assist me purchasing Carnival Tickets and Sambadrome transportation. Tours - Rio Carnival Packages received 5 star rating on cruise critic and Facebook. I started chatting with Marcelo Zahar who was extremely helpful professional and very interested in assisting me with my Rio Carnival 2016 trip. We arrived on the Celebrity Infinity ship on Feb 07 16 - Sunday for a 9:15am Pick Up - Full Day Christ Statue

and Sugar Loaf Tour - Entrance fees included in both. Marcelo met us at the pier at 8:30 to hand out the Samba Parade and transportation voucher and instruct us to go back into the cruise terminal to the cashier for our instructions. To make a long story short the tour WAS NOT with Dobrazilright:( but with the cruise terminal tour company the SAME company that was offering tours to all five ships that were in the port. Out tour did not start until after 10:30 so we waited two full hours sitting in the terminal. We could of walked off the ship and did the same thing we might have even had an English speaking guide. Our guide was very nice but she did not speak any English and she probably was not even a tour guide since she was not able to answer any questions about the city. We paid $600 for a shuttle van to the Christ statue and the Sugarloaf. She did not come with us. We found an English guide at the top of Sugarloaf who we listened to explain the different area of Rio that we were looking at. We would have done better to catch a cab to both places and save ourselves a lot of money.

 

Samba Parade 08Feb16 - We purchased round Trip Sambadrome Transfers -

7:50pm Port Pick Up and we were late and missed half of the 1st school. We purchased Section 8 tickets where the locals go so we had to stand from 10 pm to 3 pm because no seats were available and we had a very hard time seeing for $1,010.00 Again purchased through Marcelo Zahar Dobrazilright Tours .

We were so looking forward and expecting an amazing experience. The Samba Parade is well worth the money... Take your own transportation traffic is heavy as to be expected and get to the Sambadrome NLT 9:15. They start at 9:30 and it will take you 10 minutes to get to your section. Section 9 is the Tourist section.. same price and they clear out by midnight.

This was a once in a lifetime trip and I should of stuck to TripAdvisor where I get all my tour companies from and have not been disappointed in 10 years. The transfer was $275 pp and we were late and the tour company seemed not to care.

 

Lesson Learned; Extremely disappointed do not recommend this company for Rio Carnival Packages for cruise passengers.

 

Visiting Rio during the Carnival is almost the "view from the Hell". Traffic is terrible (most streets in downtown and Copacabana/Ipanema are closed), the city is full of tourists (the prices are higher and services down its quality). I live in Rio and I was surprised when I found the newest city attraction (the "Museum of Tomorrow", in the cruise port area) CLOSED! There was 11 cruise ships calling Rio and the nearest touristic attraction was simply CLOSED! Believe in me, these strange things happens here in Brazil! I'm ashamed to be a carioca!

 

I think the best months to visit Rio are September and October (Spring). The weather isn't very hot (as in the Summer) but the sky is clear and blue! Unfortunately there's no cruises to Rio between late November and early April.

 

Fortunately the visitors will find the new tram system working after the Olympic Games. It will link the cruise port to some points of interest at Rio's downtown (such as the "Paço Imperial", the Theatro Municipal/city opera). Find more information at

http://www.cidadeolimpica.com.br/en/veiculo-leve-sobre-trilhos/

 

Best regards,

Dan

Edited by Dan&Gilda@Rio
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Visiting Rio during the Carnival is almost the "view from the Hell". Traffic is terrible (most streets in downtown and Copacabana/Ipanema are closed), the city is full of tourists (the prices are higher and services down its quality). I live in Rio and I was surprised when I found the newest city attraction (the "Museum of Tomorrow", in the cruise port area) CLOSED! There was 11 cruise ships calling Rio and the nearest touristic attraction was simply CLOSED! Believe in me, these strange things happens here in Brazil! I'm ashamed to be a carioca!

 

I think the best months to visit Rio are September and October (Spring). The weather isn't very hot (as in the Summer) but the sky is clear and blue! Unfortunately there's no cruises to Rio between late November and early April.

 

Fortunately the visitors will find the new tram system working after the Olympic Games. It will link the cruise port to some points of interest at Rio's downtown (such as the "Paço Imperial", the Theatro Municipal/city opera). Find more information at

http://www.cidadeolimpica.com.br/en/veiculo-leve-sobre-trilhos/

 

Best regards,

Dan

 

 

We have just come back from seeing the Rio Carnival on the Sunday night and we thought it was fantastic. We used a ship's tour and were in section 9 for safety. Yes it did thin out but we saw 3 Samba schools only as we had dos tours for the 3 days we were there. Book a good guide we saw so much and loved Rio, there is so much to see and do away from the crowds, you just have to be flexible.

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Hi everyone,

I feel I must jump and let you know how happy we were with Marcelo and DoBrazilRight I would not hesitate at all in recommending them for Carnival tickets and transfers. The post from Fernadina Beach is not entirely correct. Three of us were on the Maasdam ship and booked Section 8 Carnival tickets and transfer with Marcelo in 2016. The cost for section 8 was 505 Reals NOT dollars. The post from Fernadina Beach mistakenly suggests that the costs are in dollars. Marcelo is meticulous about invoicing and shows on his receipts the exact exchange rates for the day of purchase. So 505 Reals at todays rate is about $139. Transfers were extra. Section 8, that Marcelo recommended, was opposite tourist section 9 which our ship charged $500 USD for. The best thing about Section 8 is that we were just above the judges box so all the performers really played up to the judges right in front of us. We got to our seats at 9:10pm and had no trouble finding seats 5 rows from the front. The parade starts at 9:30pm, so it didnt even get to Section 8 until close to 9:50. As far as standing. Everyone was standing and singing! Even the people arriving a couple hours late found seats. Everyone was very generous about finding space for each other. The return after the 5th school was seamless. The transfer agents were everywhere and looking for their customers as we descended the steps.

 

We also took DoBrazilRight for the city tour of Rio, Recife, Fortaleza and Manaus. The guides spoke excellent English, smaller buses were used, everything run professionally. Our tours exceeded expectations. If anyone going to Carnival in 2017 wishes to call me about our Rio, Carnival or Brazil cruising experiences I will be glad to chat with you. mnorman12 gmail

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Sorry, I did post a wrong information:

 

"Unfortunately there's no cruises to Rio between late November and early April."

 

The correct is: There's no cruises to Rio between EARLY APRIL to LATE NOVEMBER. The cruise ships operates in South America during the southern summer!

 

Next summer we will have just three or four ships based in Brazil: Costa neoRiviera (with 7-night cruises from Rio and Santos to Salvador and Ilhéus); MSC Preziosa (with the same route) and MSC Musica (cruising from Santos to Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Punta del Este).

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Dear Cruise Critic members, good morning from Brazil!

 

My name is Marcelo Zahar, I am the owner of DoBrazilRight Tours & Travel and I owe all Cruise Critic Passengers satisfactions.

 

This year, I sold 115 tours (8 vehicles and 8 guides) in Rio for the cruise ship passengers, and around 130 Sambadrome Shuttles and Carnival Tickets for the cruise ship passengers as well. From all 8 Vehicles and 8 Guides, I believe 2 of them were not as I expected.

 

I would like to take full responsibility on the Rio City Tour problems, because I should never ever have hired Rio Cidade Tours (Tour Provider). I thought the fact they are located inside the Port and they are the Port Official Transportation Company would be a plus, but unfortunately it wasn’t. I´m responsible because I hired and trust them, unfortunately, thinking I was offering a quality and convenient service to my clients, once they are also the only transportation company allowed to park inside the Port Terminal. I also sold tours for the HAL Maasdam passengers in Salvador, Recife, Fortaleza and Manaus, but when some clients arrived in Rio, all the hard works of months were lost because of Rio Cidade Tours. Every passenger who contacted me with the Rio Tour complaint got a full refund of the tour, this was the minimum I could offer in return.

 

Regarding the Sambadrome Transfers, the Port is very close to the Sambadrome (10-minute ride), although this year the Port Area is completely under renovation because of the Olympics, they are rebuilding the entire area, and construction sites were everywhere, causing a real chaos and heavy traffic. There were so many detours and confusion for a route that´s easy and fast, and that´s the reason of all the traffic and delay.

 

I had a conference call with the Sambadrome Shuttle Company last week, and I was able to convince them to switch the pick-up time to 7pm instead of 7:50pm, this way all clients will arrive at the Sambadrome before 8pm and will be able to get excellent Grandstand seats. This is the only company in Rio providing the Transfers, they are extremely professional and do this service for more than 15 years. It´s a huge logistic job, involves all major Rio Hotels and the Port, 600 guides per night and 300 buses. The 7:50pm pick up is the first pick up available from the Port and it´s been like this for years, and the chaos on the traffic this year was something they could have anticipated but they didn´t. This is the link with the updated new pick up time https://www.dobrazilright.com/product/rio-carnival-round-trip-sambadrome-transfers-port-pick-up-and-drop-off-2/

 

After explaining the Shuttle company most of the Cruise Ship passengers are older retired folks, who need more time to walk and go up the Grandstand Stairs, we now have a 7pm pick up super confirmed and 7:50pm no longer exists for next year. I feel very happy for being able to change that for all Cruise Ship Passengers starting next Carnival.

 

Unfortunately I cannot take responsibility on the Construction sites in the Port Area, the detours and traffic that caused the delay on the Sambadrome Arrival. As I just mentioned, this 7:50pm pick up has been like that for years, especially because it takes 10 minutes only from the Port to the Sambadrome, but this year was completely different, and also this year we had 11 ships at the Port, which caused a total chaos. Not all the passengers who took the 7:50pm shuttle arrived late at the Sambadrome, although there were probably more than 300-400 people scheduled for 7:50pm and the last buses were the ones who arrived really late. It´s unacceptable for me that my clients arrive late at the Sambadrome and get bad Grandstand seats, that´s why I made sure to contact the Shuttle Provider and switch to 7pm next year, not only for my passengers, but for all Cruise Ship Passengers.

 

Starting this March, DoBrazilRight is operating all the Rio Tours by hiring the Transportation Company directly and the Tour Guides Separate. No more intermediates in the Rio Tours. We just signed a contract with the Christ Train Company to purchase all the Christ Train tickets online with the pre-arranged train times. We took care of some Oceania Regatta Passengers who were in Rio this past 12th of March, and the Tour was a Success despite the rain.

 

I love my profession so much, I have 22 years of experience in the travel business, I finally opened my Travel Agency 4 years ago, and I take care of all my clients with so much love and passion as if I was booking the trips for myself and my family. I am the only Marcelo Zahar in the entire internet, and in 20 years working in the Travel Industry, this is the first bad review I receive online.

 

I learned valuable lessons this Carnival season, and the main one is to never do business with Rio Cidade Tours again. You guys don´t deserve the service provided by them and it´s my fault, I admit. But I promise you this company belongs to the past and the Rio Tours are being operated with excellence from now on. I give you my word. I also learned that most Cruise Ship passengers demand more time, that´s why I put so much effort in anticipating the pick-up for 7pm next year.

 

I sell Sector 8 Tickets because they are located across Sector 9 and cost almost half the price. They don´t have assigned seating although nobody has control of what seat number you´ll get at Sector 9, so you may end up getting a bad seat number all the way on the back after spending more than R$1.000 for a grandstand ticket. Also the energy from Sector 9 is not the same. From Sector 8 while everyone is standing up and dancing and singing, when you look at Sector 9 everyone is seating and not interacting. On this link, available in my website, I wrote valuable tips about the Sectors and included some Pictures are well https://www.dobrazilright.com/rio-de-janeiro-carnival/sambadrome/

 

The client who wrote the review above contacted me on the 4th of March, and on the same day, actually in less than one hour after I received the email, a full refund was processed back into her paypal account (receipt attached). All my prices are in Brazilian Reais, and the total refunded of 2 Sector 8 tickets, 2 shuttles and 2 tours was US$533 = US$266.50 PER PERSON. I am sure if there was no traffic and detours to get to the Sambadrome, her only complain would be the Rio Tour, which I would never blame her. I am really sorry about the chaos at the Port Area that caused the shuttle delay, but that´s not mine or DoBrazilRight´s fault.

 

Please accept my sincere apologies about the incidents and was not my intention causing this bad experience. I am truly sorry. If you ever come to Brazil again, please contact me and I´ll be happy to offer you some complimentary services. I am so very sorry .

refund.jpg.71fd724c883fa76b979caf13cddfd10f.jpg

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My husband and I were also passengers on the Maasdam during its stop in Rio Feb 7-9, 2016. I spent several hours on the internet looking at sites to purchase tickets for the Sambadrome performances and determining the logistics of taking taxis, the Metro or offered shuttle services as the prices offered by HAL were excessive.

 

Then I found Marcelo Zahar and DoBraziRight. I first contacted him by e-mail in March, 2015 regarding his services in providing access to the Sambadrome and city tours in Rio, Fortaleza and Manaus. His responses were always prompt whether by e-mail or phone. Yes, phone. You can call him directly in Brazil by calling a US number and speak with him personally!! After viewing his informative website regarding seating, we decided on Section 8 grandstand seats. At 505 Brazilian Real each (not US Dollars) the seats and transfers were very reasonable. Our purchase was charged and we received the exchange rate of the day - all delineated on our receipt from Marcelo. It was a great choice and we got to experience the passion of the locals during this event.

 

During the ensuing months, we e-mailed and spoke with Marcelo on several occasions. Being the consummate professional he is, his responses were always prompt and provided us with the information we were seeking.

 

Prior to arrival in Rio, Marcelo notified us of changes to meeting places for ticket distribution and transfer departures along with pictures of the meeting place and of the shirts the people doing the transfers would be wearing in order to locate them.

 

As promised, Marcelo was at the port at 8:30 a.m personally greeting his clients and making sure they had their tickets and transfers. Others onboard had booked with other online companies and had to travel to hotels in Copacabana in order to obtain their tickets.

 

Embarkation at the port was chaotic with 11 ships in port. We had booked an all day tour for Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf for that day originally at 9:30 a.m. but needed to check our luggage with HAL before doing so. Marcelo personally called and then met with a representative from Rio Cidade to change our tour time to early afternoon which avoided the crowds at both sites.

 

I have nothing but praise for Marcelo. His professionalism is beyond reproach. The personal interest he takes in his clients ensures their experience through the services his company provides is one they will remember with a smile as we do. Do not hesitate to use DoBrazilRight.

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We also used Marcelo for Carnaval. He was at the port as stated and we got our Carnaval passes and Transfer bus passes there. We were on the Maasdam, but ended our cruise in Rio and stayed their for 5 days.

 

As to Carnaval, we took the earliest transfer bus (there were about 4 or 5 different boarding times) from our hotel at Copacabana. We got to the Sambadrome (section 9, not reserved) about 7:15pm (starts about 9:30pm) and lots of seats (70% empty) available at that time. By 9:30pm things were quite full and by 10pm people were standing or trying to sit on the aisles (stairway). So get there by 8:30pm and you will be ok.

 

If you take a taxi to the Sambadrome and leave by 7:30pm, traffic is not bad at all. But they need a special pass for next to stadium drop off, so you may need to walk 2 blocks. Not sure where you get taxi for return trip.

 

His tickets were NOT high prices as the original poster stated. About double in Reserved Tourist area across the way. We had much more local flavor and no security problems whatsoever. I recommend this.

 

Marcelo said he would meet us there at 7:30pm and we would sit with him and some friends/family. Also he told another couple this from the ship. I searched the stands at 7:45pm and could not find him. He later told me he had been held up and did not get there until 10pm That was a disappointment as we expected to be with him and he could explain things. He did apologize afterward when I emailed him.. Still, I think with others who were expecting him, he should have been there.

 

The port was a mess when we got into port due to construction for Olympics, but we walked 2 blocks and got a cab. We used taxis (very cheap) all the time with no problems at all (I keep a map and trace the route so driver thinks I know where he is going). But also for longer trips (3 miles or more), you can use Uber and it works well in Rio.

 

Hint, bring a cushion to sit on and a pancho in case of rain. They sell food, drinks, etc. there so no need to bring any. Temps will be 80 degrees or higher, even by 1am.

 

We got Train to Christ the Redeemer on line and got first one at 9am. But they have vans that get there earlier - so just get to them ( by cab) and it is less crowded. Only 10 min waits to Sugarloaf cable car and very easy to do on your own. Again, can get cab to 1st cable car station.

 

We also did Salvador tour with DoBrazilRight and it was pretty good - small group and less than boat trip.

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