Los Angeles, California
This "tour" was a crushing disappointment and the advertising on Viator's website is, at best, deceptive. The ad describes strolling thru wineshops in Solvang, visiting the harbor and taking photos on the beach in Santa Barbara on the way to Hearst. We spent 45 minutes in Solvang and drove straight to Hearst where we got out of the car, got on a shuttle to the castle, did the guided tour of the ground floor rooms then walked once around the castle grounds, got back on the shuttle and immediately back in the van ... no time to view the "don't miss" movie, visit the gift shop, or even stop long enough to get something to eat (our driver insisted the lines were moving too slow). We headed back to Santa Barbara and went from the freeway to the Santa Barbara Mission for 20 minutes where the driver paced nervously behind us before hustling us back in the van. I told him I was hugely disappointed with how rushed the tour was and he insisted that by law, he could only be driving 12 hours in a day and it would take every bit of that to get back to LA. The only beach and harbor views is what we could glimpse between the trees as we blew down the freeway. We did not hit heavy traffic and the driver went the speed limit (and certainly did not permit us to linger at any point), so the grievance is clearly with Viator and the fraudulent advertising done on their site. Solvang, Santa Barbara and definitely Hearst are absolutely worth the visit, but don't waste your money on this tour - a rental car and gas costs a LOT less and you can actually SEE what you came to visit.
Note from Viator
Thanks for taking the time to review your tour. We are sorry that the experience did not live up to expectations. We have passed your comments onto our local operator who has now revised the tour itinerary so that Santa Barbara is visited in two parts: a morning stop at the Spanish Mission, followed by a visit to the harbor and the beach area in the afternoon, after the visit to Hearst Castle. This change has successfully relieved the pressure of getting to Hearst Castle on time for the scheduled visit, and makes for a more relaxed and enjoyable tour. Thank for your valuable feedback, and we look forward to seeing you on another Viator tour in future, when i hope your experience will be more pleasurable.
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