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I booked this tour because it offered the boat trip to the fourth lake at the Three Eyes. However, once we started the tour at the Three Eyes our guide informed us that we did not have time to take the boat trip to see the fourth lake. This was extremely disappointing for our party of four. Not sure if the boat trip to the fourth lake was never to be part of our excursion or if it was the result of time spent at the beginning of the tour approx. 30 minutes waiting for other guests to arrive or the first bathroom/coffee stop that lasted about 30 minutes. The trip to and from Santa Domingo is as advertised, about 2 hours each way which limits the time in Santa Domingo. The 4D film about the Battle of Santa Domingo was excellent and a very interesting experience. For the most part lunch was very good. The stop at Chinatown was a drive by of the archway leading into Chinatown and the stop at the Christopher Columbus Lighthouse not actually a lighthouse was for a picture only. The tour of the palace was very interesting. If you are considering this tour, be prepared for a long day with 4-5 hours of continuous bus ride with bathroom/coffee breaks each way. The bus was not a highway coach - seating for about 20 persons - with limited leg room and seat room. Also, if you are expecting to see the fourth lake at the Three Eyes you might want to confirm that up front, although, like us, what can you do when you get there and then find out that there wasn't enough time?
The sights themselves were cool palace and caves, but this tour had an above-average number of forced shopping stops. I always expect at least one of these stops when I book a tour, but this one had three or four... and they were long. For those who aren't familiar with what I'm speaking about, forced shopping is a fairly common practice by most day tour operators not just in the Dominican, but virtually every other country I've been to. Basically, one or more of the stops on the tour involves going to a local business usually with a flimsy rationale such as seeing how a product is made! that lasts all of two minutes wherein the hapless tourists have to wait around and - presumably - will buy some local wares while they're stuck at the business. Typically, the tour guide and/or the operator gets a percentage cut of whatever is bought. Now, as I mentioned earlier, I'm accustomed to this and find it generally tolerable in small doses. But this tour had a disproportionate number of these forced shopping stops, and at each one we stayed upwards of 45 minutes. Most of the people on the tour looked extremely bored at each stop myself included, and the tour guide made no effort to speed up the couple participants who held things up by haggling endlessly with the vendors. In all, the large amount of forced shopping really detracted from the tour since I'd estimate we spent about 60 of the non-travel time waiting around in local shops and only about 40 of the time actually visiting the sights.
Although we were to have an English speaking tour director on February 6, 2017, our director spoke little English and most of it was was not understandable. As the only 2 English speakers on a bus of 9 individuals, we were not offered the courtesy of translations for many of his descriptions on the way to Santa Domingo. The bus driver and the director took time out of OUR day to stop at 2 different banks. It took almost 4 hours to arrive at our first scheduled stop on the trip. When we finally arrived in Santa Domingo, we went to the White House then directly to the restaurant. After eating, we were told that we only had time to shop in the store next door to the restaurant. In my opinion, time was wasted on driving to personal banking business, much to the detriment of our getting the options offered in the trip description. After that, we went to the Cathedral and museums. The director rarely offered any historical or cultural information without being prompted. I often asked questions thus getting him to offer some information on the sights. We then proceeded to the caves. Even though we PAID for the boat ride in the caves, we were told that that was not possible. Another tour with the boat rides had to be specifically purchased for participation in that activity. As I read on a previous review, the same problem occurred on their tour. Viator continues to sell this particular trip with incorrect or dated information on options. I feel that the driver, Sandy, was helpful, but complacent in spending OUR purchased time driving around to go to the various banks. We had a total of 15 minutes shopping time in only 1 small store. We did not get the boat ride in the caves. Both options were paid for to insure we had an informational and cultural excursion. We did not get either of these activities as described in the trip package! We were severely disappointed in this tour. By the leaders of this group and the company offering activities that did not occur.
The van you take there is small and cramped. It was packed. It took forever to get there. We had to make 3 other stops and wait for sometimes more than 20 minutes in the van to pick up people. None of these stops were at a resort, they were on the side of the road which was weird. Everyone on the trip was told something different. It took longer than 2 1/2 hours to get there. Once there the tour were good. You see a movie which was really neat, the palace was cool and informative, The cave was magnificent. very beautiful. But its a very long day and properly not something I would do again.
The tour was wonderful and we covered a lot of sites throughout the day. Lunch was delicious and I enjoyed seeing not only the city of Santo Domingo, but the countryside during the bus trip. One thing I was disappointed by is that I bought this specific tour because it says you will get to see the 4th lake in Tres Ojos, but we were not given the option to do that and nothing was even said about it. There was a lot of rain in the afternoon, but even though we all got wet while walking between stops, everything was beautiful and we enjoyed seeing the historical sites. Our tour guide was very friendly and shared helpful information with us and was able to communicate very clearly in both Spanish and English. I do wish that instead of being taken into one specific shop where the prices actually weren't that good, we would have had a little more time built in to stop at other shops along the main street we were on, walk around a few blocks, or even just sit in one of the parks and enjoy the city Overall, a great trip and I would recommend it to and Punta Cana travelers who want to see what DR is really like away from the resort and learn some of the country's history.
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