I am very disappointed with our tour of the Dead Sea, which I booked through Viator. The tour took place on Saturday, October 20th.
To start, I was told via email when I confirmed our reservation that our pick up from Dan Panorama Hotel would be at 8am. When no one showed up, I called and was told this was a mistake--that Jerusalem pick ups started at 8:30am. At 8:45am, we were picked up and brought to Mount Scopus hotel, and told to wait in the lobby. It was completely confusing--I had no idea that we would be brought to a separate location. I called you again, and was told that our guide would come in to the lobby at Mount Scopus Hotel and call us by name when our tour bus was ready.
Instead, our tour guide (Elia was her name, if I remember correctly) came in and yelled "Dead Sea/Masada!". Since we booked for the Dead Sea "wellness" trip, I did not think this referred to my mom and I, but after a while, we were two of the few people left in the lobby, so I went to her to ask. Turns out that she had my mother's name on her list--not mine, even though I was the primary traveler---and that we were supposed to go on her bus. She never came into the lobby to call us by name, nor did she say "Dead Sea only" until I had already gone up to her to ask if her group was the one my mom and I were supposed to travel with. It was a very frustrating and disorganized start to the day.
After stopping at Sea Level, we visited the Ahava factory--another unexpected part of the trip. When we finally made it to the Dead Sea at Mineral Beach (until that point I had no idea where at the Dead Sea we would be heading), I finally started to relax and enjoy myself. My mom and I were ready to board the bus again at 4pm, because Elia told us that's when we would depart, but instead she found us at 3:45pm and said that the rest of the group who had gone on to Masada had come back late and that we would leave at 4:45pm instead. In reality, we left a half hour later than that, and 5:15pm.
At this point I was frustrated because I felt the Tour Operator (and/or Viator, with whom I made my booking) should have told me that the initial pick up would take us to Mount Scopus, where we would have to wait; our group would be included with a group going to Masada as well, instead of just the Dead Sea as I had booked; the tour would stop at Ahava; the Dead Sea portion would be at Mineral Beach, while the rest of the tour went to Masada; there would be a risk of a late return to Jerusalem if the Masada group got delayed, etc etc. None of these elements of the tour were communicated ahead of time.
All of that was annoying, but as my mother and I are part Palestinian, I was outraged and deeply offended when Elia, our tour guide, told our group how Arabs were responsible for all of Israel's problems, and how "anti-Israelism" is a politically correct front for anti-Semitism, how we shouldn't believe what we read in media about Israel because it doesn't reflect reality, etc etc. She is certainly entitled to her opinion, but I thought that was very inappropriate and highly unprofessional to introduce her own personal views--completely unprompted--to a tour group.
I will never use your tour company again after such a poor performance. I am very disappointed.
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