Hi Geri here from NACTA Travel. I’d like to give you an insight into my own experience on touring Ireland with NACTA Travel.
I spoke with someone today from Ireland. They were from Cork…Clonakilty actually and as we said goodbye, I instantly missed Ireland. I started wishing I could hop on a plane and tour the Emerald Isle once again. Full disclosure here, I worked for CIE Tours for just shy of seven years. I was a part of the sales team where I got to share amazing destinations and incredible vacations with the travel agent community. The best part of the job was, of course, experiencing Ireland and how it stole my heart from the moment I stepped off my first Aer Lingus flight.
So, a tour? I never EVER thought I’d enjoy a guided vacation. I had it all wrong. A tour can be a fantastic way to explore a new place. I thought I’d be stuck on a bus with a bunch of older people and a boring driver. That was not the case at all. After a pleasant flight with the super friendly crew of my Aer Lingus flight from JFK to Dublin airport, I went through customs in Dublin and within a few minutes gathered my large checked suitcase and was greeted by a CIE Tours employee who pointed me to my tour group’s meeting area. I had a few minutes to freshen up and grab a cup of tea before my driver/guide for the next week gathered us and brought downstairs to our motor coach.
This is a real motorcoach, comfy seats that can recline , wifi is available and worked well onboard (expect it to get a bit spotty when you are in more remote areas of the island) and best of all our driver/guide was FUN. CIE Tours and NACTA Travel truly attract some of the best talent on the road in Ireland. These are Blue Badge guides that have a passion for sharing their country with visitors and the best part is how friendly and fun they are. They are also so organized and keep the tour moving along and make everything from checking into your hotel to experiencing different attractions smooth and stress free.
Leaving Dublin airport our tour took us north away from the city center. Soon we were seeing farms and lots of that green you hope to see in Ireland. Our guide knew to not overwhelm jet lagged people with too much commentary. Possibly the best part of traveling with a tour group is that when you arrive at your hotel they are waiting for you… truly waiting! I did wonder after my first CIE Tour if my group got special treatment since fellow travel employees were part of the group- but I have experienced tours as a “regular passenger” and have always gotten treatment that is above and beyond. I adore grabbing my key to my room and just skipping the usual check in process- you feel special and it’s great to get to your room so quickly after a long flight.
While Ireland is getting a reputation for fabulous food, I have to share some of my favorite things with you. As an Irish American I was nervous I wouldn’t love the food overseas, memories of my Grandma Kane’s tough as nails pot roast and dry as paper pork chops came to mind…. Well Grandma can’t blame her Irish heritage for her not so great cooking anymore. Anything dairy will steal the show and you’ll crave the fresh fish that the different restaurants and hotel’s offer.
CIE Tours does a wonderful job of having several dinners included but also giving you time to go enjoy the different towns and cities on your own. Your driver/guide is a wealth of knowledge and can help you plan your free time so you can make the most of it- remember they are in the places often. It really is like traveling with your best friend!
If you are looking for a place with friendly people it doesn’t get better than Ireland. Your driver/guide will share the history of Ireland with you over the course of your trip but you can expect funny stories, some singing and many jokes too. CIE Tours includes overnight stays in charming towns, bustling cities and a few quaint small towns too. No matter where you find yourself setting your bags down in, I promise you’ll make new friends. Tourists are welcome and it’s not just a corny saying in Ireland – you feel it.
Lastly, I miss how convenient and stress free CIE Tours makes a vacation. Having someone keep track of the time and organize different activities is a big relief for someone who wants to take it all in. You’re able to just enjoy the tour and not worry about anything going wrong. It was amazing having someone else do the driving. Ireland drives on the opposite side of the road so this was a real big win!
Soon I hope to enjoy another tour. It helps me use my vacation time in a smart way and I know I have saved a lot of money by touring too. The wit and wisdom of the driver/guides is also a huge part of the fun for me and my family.
I’ll share some of my favorite attractions and places to visit in my next post. But for now I’ll dream of green and beautiful Ireland. I’ll long for the delicious food and miss the many smiling faces I’ve met while there. Most of all I miss how stress free and EASY touring with CIE Tours and NACTA Travel is. And after the last year stress free and easy are two very wonderful traits in a vacation and vacation planning.