Honolulu, Hawaii 19 forum posts
#11 of 12
I picked STI USA, aka Sakkara Group (STI Egypt), as our tour operator after extensive comparison shopping on the internet and personal exchange. I chose STI for our group of 12, who have traveled together for several years, for several reasons, 1) easier to deal with an US-based office, 2) willingness to work with my customized itinerary, 3) competitive pricing, and 4) reputation as described by posts on several big travel boards.
We left on March 6, 2008 for a 20-day, customized tour, which included selected 5-star hotels and non-touristy restaurants, of Egypt. Istanbul. and Jordan. Every detail seemed set as we departed from JFK.
During the trip I began to develop and form a changed opinion of STI based upon the experiences and follow through. Although STI should be considered a strong contender for a trip to Egypt, I would forewarn you of possible problems if you go with them.
I think STI is a superb choice of tour operator to Egypt, Istanbul, and Jordan from the US if you stick to one of their standard itineraries. They have an impressive array of vertically-integrated resources and services, including hotels, guides, vehicles, restaurants, and Nile cruisers. Their pricing for contracted hotels and restaurants that are not theirs are indicative of their clout. However, if you want to include personal choices of accommodations, restaurants, and sites, resulting in a customized tour and itinerary, you may be very disappointed and upset, even after every detail is seemingly finalized before departure.
For example, in several cases the daily itinerary was not followed in proper sequence causing serious time-related problems in seeing the iconic attractions. We had to go to Giza twice because we missed the Sphinx the first time. By the time the return to the Sphinx was granted after angry demands, 2 couples had already left Egypt for home. On the other hand, in Istanbul one day’s itinerary ended by 3:00 when were supposed to enjoy the night life aboard a private Bosphorous cruise. Incidentally we were first booked on a public boat and had to tell the guide that we prepaid for a private cruise as stated in the itinerary. Also restaurants were switched twice, rooms at Old Cataract were downgraded from Nile view to courtyard view, and guides were less than competent and attentive. But the most irritating aspect of the experience was the slow, indifferent attitude of STI to act upon and resolve the many discrepancies presented to STI through our evaluation report. Although STI refunded the cost of the Turkey visas, which we were charged twice, and settled the downgraded room issue, they have not only failed to accept responsibility for making our trip less than what we expected and paid for, but also failed to acknowledge the issues I have raised. I am still waiting to hear from STI.
#12 of 12
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