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Firstly encountered problem getting our tickets from their desk in Union Station. Presented are printed voucher as told and the bar code didn't scan, then asked for the original email to scan that bar code which also didn't scan and told by the agent we had to ring New York to get it sorted! After about 15 mins another agent appeared, asked what the problem was and said that he would accept the voucher as it had all the details on it, so not a good start. Spent first day on the red line and the night tour with two great guides, Joan and Alicia and enjoyed both tours. The second day we went to pick up the purple route at the address on their brochure, Pentagon City. We asked an employee of another bus tour if our bus company stopped there she said that they don't have their signs on any bus stop and just pick up where ever they like, we were standing at the correct address. We waited at the stop for 35 mins and no bus came only the other tour. So we had to go and find metro to take us to Arlington Cemetery where we had hoped the bus would take us. By the time we got to Arlington and did our tour the bus had finished operating for the day, last bus was at 3pm! I would not use this company again if I went back to Washington D.C. and wouldn't recommend them to others based on first experience and second day.
All of the guides were pretty good however, trying to connect in a timely manner with the purple and yellow lines was difficult. There is only one bus on both of these lines so they don't run very frequently. It's also confusing to pick up the bus if you're going directly to a stop by walking, e.g., trying to find the Ferry Cruise. The red line is the best and does go to most popular sites. We want to give very highl marks to the driver, Smokey. He was on the purple line and was most helpful in directing us to the Pentagon Memorial and how to get back if we missed the bus to return.
Frequency of buses not enough, so long waits for the buses to come. Audio guides ok in the city itself but the extensión to Georgetown was very unsatisfactory: audio guides not working, bus at high speed without even a warning for the very low branches of the beautiful Georgetown alleys. A real pity especially considering we come from very far and cannot take this trip again son.
Hop-On-Hop-Off is a great way to get an overview of the city and to get around, however, the tour guides on the bus were less than informative. We did the 48 hour tour which included a night tour. The first day, Sunday, the tour guide on the bus only pointed to buildings and told what it was, no other narration or history along the route. The 2nd day, Monday, there was no tour guide on board for the Georgetown, National Cathedral loop. All info was via head phones that were a little marginal at best. The best was the night tour, our guide Shawn was very informative and gave alott of history along the route. Wish we could have had him for the other 2 days it would have much more enjoyable. City Sites DC does not have as many buses circulating as a couple of the other companies so it was a little harder to hop-on-hop-off to make connections to other routes that they do. Would not use them again.
I purchased this tour through Viator. The vendor that Viator used for this tour is City Sights in Washington, D.C. I would strongly suggest reading some of the TripAdvisor reviews before booking this tour through Viator. The Red tour route was quite good with a lively narration and helpful staff. The route to Arlington, Pentagon City, etc. was also okay, certainly it was timely, however the driver was not very professional and there was no narration perhaps the driver forgot to turn it on? and the lower level of the bus had no seating with any visibility. The third route, the one that goes to the Zoo, Cathedral and Georgetown runs very infrequently, but we were not told that when we picked up the tickets at Union Station. After waiting for about 30 minutes at the first stop, we called the City Sights office and were told that route runs every forty to 90 minutes and that the next one would be at our stop in another 30 minutes. This frequency and uncertainty did not meet our needs at all and we did not use the tour ticket that day. This should have been clearly communicated at the outset. But, my biggest complaint is that I trusted Viator and purchased the tour without knowing anything about the vendor. Viator passed along my complaint and request for a partial refund of my 2-day ticket to City Sights who said they have many happy customers and were sorry I was not one of them. When I checked TripAdvisor I saw that City Sights may have some happy customers, but they also have a lot 40 of very unhappy ones. Viator will not be my go-to in the future for booking tours because I don't feel like I can trust them to thoroughly vet the tours they market, and I now know they also do not stand behind them.
The tour itself was great! Very knowledgeable tour guides, for the most part. I was not impressed with one tour guide in particular...he mentioned several times about tipping and got upset when he didn't get tipped. Also, as he was giving us information about the tour, he kept adding in quotations, his own opinions about the presidents and what he thought happened. I did not like that. It all depends on which tour guide you get. I also got on a bus where there was no tour guide and it was an automated system, but, the bus driver didn't tell us that and we sat there for a long time not hearing anything. Out night tour stared 30 minutes late as well. It's a good option if you want to see/take pictures of all the monuments/museums. But, I would recommend trying a different tour carrier...there are several to choose from.
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