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Viator’s Downtown Portland, Maine, City, and Lighthouse Tour


Tall22
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6 minutes ago, 1025cruise said:

Viator is not a tour provider. Do you know who is actually offering the tour?

Sorry, I miss-stated. I booked through Viator. The provider is Freedom Tours.

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I booked the same tour thru Royal a few years ago. It was okay. If I remember, you were basically looking at them from the outside, not really allowed inside. I wouldn't pay any more than $40-50. Not worth it for a higher price, in my opinion. The town tour was nothing special.

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6 hours ago, Tall22 said:

The provider is Freedom Tours.

Are you certain about this? If you go to the Viator website, this tour has a picture of a van with advertising for "Portland Explorer," and with USDOT number 3196694. The USDOT number corresponds to Portland Explorer Tourism LLC. You can look up the company's records on the SAFER website of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, http://safer.fmcsa.dot.gov.

 

The company's own website makes more clear that the tour is to visit three lighthouses. It says: "

We will spend about 40 minutes at Portland Head Light and about 10-15 minutes at Spring Point Ledge Light and Portland Breakwater. We are unable to go into the lighthouses in Maine, but we will be able to walk around the park and hear the history of the area." It seem as the "city tour" portion is simply driving along some downtown Portland streets incidental to the trip to the three lighthouses. If one is a lighthouse enthusiast, then this might be an efficient manner in which to visit these locations. But the tour is not being advertised as one that is a more typical city tour. I have not used the company's services, but I have no reason to believe that the company provides any lesser service than what it advertises on its own website.

 

I am also curious--my wife and I were discussing this just last night--why people book through Viator instead of directly with the tour operator. Viator charges higher rates than the tour operators themselves (here, Viator charges $64 for all persons, while the tour operator charges $60 for adults, $58 for seniors, and $50 for children), and I would expect that Viator also takes a commission and remits to the tour operator less than the tour operator's standard rates. Is it because tour operator websites are too confusing, and the Viator website is better designed? Or is there some other reason to use a middleman for making arrangements with a tour operator? We could not figure out it out amongst ourselves.

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4 hours ago, GTJ said:

Are you certain about this? If you go to the Viator website, this tour has a picture of a van with advertising for "Portland Explorer,"


I am embarrassed to say I am not certain. You are correct. I quickly went to check the provider and looked at a tour in an entirely different port! 😳I am losing my mind or have spent too much time looking at too many tours! It may be both! 😄

 

But thank you for your response. In determining what I had done wrong, I learned that Viator is showing no record of my reservation. This even though I spoke with them on Friday and received an email confirmation following our conversation. Will be following up.

 

I agree with you totally about booking directly with the provider. Why I did not in this circumstance I must attribute to a senior moment. It is just one more instance in what is becoming a comedy of errors. I was booking this to accompany my daughter and her family. Their reservation is confirmed and showing online. If I indeed do not have a reservation for my DH and myself, we will not be able to accompany them as the tour only has one slot left.

The positive aspect - I can follow the majority opinion and do it on our own! 😄

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8 minutes ago, Tall22 said:

I am losing my mind or have spent too much time looking at too many tours! It may be both!

Sometimes when planning travel by cruise vessel, with arrangements made in each and every port, it is so easy to lose track of things!

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On 7/16/2023 at 9:52 AM, Tall22 said:

Sorry, I miss-stated. I booked through Viator. The provider is Freedom Tours.

Your faculties may still be intact - it's possible there's just a delay in Viator updating their site. I have never had an issue with any tour or other service I've booked through them. If you got the email confirmation from them w/your e-ticket, I would feel very confident you are booked. Especially if you see the charge on your account.

As for booking through Viator vs directly w/the tour operator  - really no different than booking w/TA vs directly through an airline. One has the convenience of seeing options from multiple providers in 1 place (which also provides 1 point of reference for summaries) and may find value in clicking through that way. No wrong way, just different ways/preferences.

Safe travels  - enjoy your cruise!

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On 7/22/2023 at 8:27 PM, Haljo1935 said:

Your faculties may still be intact - it's possible there's just a delay in Viator updating their site. I have never had an issue with any tour or other service I've booked through them. If you got the email confirmation from them w/your e-ticket, I would feel very confident you are booked. Especially if you see the charge on your account.

As for booking through Viator vs directly w/the tour operator  - really no different than booking w/TA vs directly through an airline. One has the convenience of seeing options from multiple providers in 1 place (which also provides 1 point of reference for summaries) and may find value in clicking through that way. No wrong way, just different ways/preferences.

Safe travels  - enjoy your cruise!

The tour never showed up on my Viator account and no ticket or email confirmation was received. I contacted the provider who verified my reservation had been received but to resolve the issue she cancelled the reservation with Viator and rebooked it directly with her, the provider. That saved me a few dollars as the price is cheaper when directly booked with her. The issue with Viator must have been just a rare glitch in the system.

Edited by Tall22
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On 7/28/2023 at 3:15 PM, Tall22 said:

The tour never showed up on my Viator account and no ticket or email confirmation was received. I contacted the provider who verified my reservation had been received but to resolve the issue she cancelled the reservation with Viator and rebooked it directly with her, the provider.

The part that I find most troubling with third party reservation sites is that they're located remotely, and have neither the focus nor the specific knowledge of what is actually going on. They're relying on communications between their representatives--who likely have never been on the actual tour being booked through them--and the actual tour operator. On the other hand, the tour operator (and especially with a small tour operator) knows his or her business very well. He or she knows exactly what is going on, and can take care of any issues directly without getting lost in communications or with people not knowing the specific business. The tour operators may not have as much business savvy as the large third party providers, and their websites may be more crude, less optimized, etc., but they know their own business better than anyone else, and can make whatever adjustments might be necessary. For me, that closeness to the ground is what is most important.

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Agree, I also prefer to book direct.  And I look for smaller sized tours.

 

I don't fault Viator acting as a middleman/marketing agent.

1. They advertise the tour.  If you hadn't seen the tour on their site, you might not have known it existed.

2.  If they sell a tour, they are entitled to a commission.  

 

Cruise ships basically do the same thing, only they add a much higher commission and sometimes book the entire operator's tour or tours for the day.  With either the cruise ship or Viator, the local tour company will ultimately benefit (just to a potentially smaller degree).

 

The good news is Viator doesn't change the name of the tours, so a quick Google search can help you locate the actual tour operator if you wish to book direct.

Edited by CaribbeanBound
clarity
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On 7/28/2023 at 12:15 PM, Tall22 said:

The tour never showed up on my Viator account and no ticket or email confirmation was received. I contacted the provider who verified my reservation had been received but to resolve the issue she cancelled the reservation with Viator and rebooked it directly with her, the provider. That saved me a few dollars as the price is cheaper when directly booked with her. The issue with Viator must have been just a rare glitch in the system.

If you look at the Support Board at TripAdvisor you will see lots of complaints about Viator.

 

That being said, they sell thousands and thousands of tours, so a few complaints are to be expected.  I still prefer booking directly.

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