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Festive Bucharest & Enchanting Transylvania
Post: #1
I went on this holiday on 23-27 December 2018 costing £1099.  There were 31 travellers in the group with Cristina as our TM.  Below is my experience, which makes for depressing reading.
 
Day 1 – on arrival at Heathrow, I did not see a JY representative.  BA at T5 is 80% automated but JY customers cannot avail of the this service since we are a “large group booking”.  Other airlines let us check in using the automated service.   A BA manager was keen to not have people queuing up for the manned check-ins and I ended up being pushed from pillar to post for about 45 minutes before I was actually able to check in manually.  Very frustrating, JY sort it out please. A friend and I upgraded our flights at check in for a considerably cheaper cost than the approx £1K JY quote.
 
On arrival at Bucharest airport, a small very busy airport, there was no obvious sign of a JY person waiting for us.  As there was the JY TM and the local guide, they should have been strategically placed at either end of the arrivals area with their boards held high.  We set off for the hotel, where our “sightseeing” started.  Couldn’t see much as it was dark.  On arrival at the hotel, a quick welcome drink and then out on foot at 6.30pm for dinner via a tour of the old town.  Caru cu Bere is a lovely old beer house/restaurant with painted ceilings and ornate woodwork and Romanian dancers to entertain us, but the food (pork, stuffed cabbage leaves, pickled veg, cake) was a let down – tasteless and the hot food was just about warm. 
 
Day 2 – A Christmas eve coach trip to Transylvania, which is a 3+ hour journey there and back.  We did a quick tour around Bran Castle and then were released to visit the Christmas market and find lunch for ourselves.  Later it was on to Brasov.  Our walking tour consisted of walking from coach drop off point to their limited Christmas market. It was pouring with rain, the famous Black Church was closed and once we had looked around the market we found a coffee bar to dry out in until coach pick up time.  We waited in the square in the rain until the coach arrived.  A rejig of the afternoon might have been better?
 
Dinner back at the hotel (pork, stuffed cabbage leaves, pickled veg).  Again, not very exciting and served warm. 
 
Day 3 -  A Christmas day chance to attend Mass at an Orthodox Church.  The church was full, very hot and there was no way we could have attended the service.  Another walking tour around Bucharest before having lunch at Hotel Filitti.  This was even more of a disappointment as the brochure stated we were having lunch in an American-style steakhouse.  When I queried this with the TM the night before she said she hadn’t been to the restaurant and it might be American.  Our choice was either pork or fish, stuffed cabbage leaves, pickled veg and cake.  I  was really really looking forward to a steak Christmas lunch.  (A fellow traveller posted a review on Tripadvisor about their awful food at Hotel Filitti.)
 
Dinner back at the hotel was pork, stuffed cabbage leaves, pickled veg and cake. Didn’t we have this at lunch time?
 
Day 4 – A Boxing day tour of Bucharest.  Haven’t we done this before?  Some of us piled into a Starbucks for a warming drink and lunch.  Later we went on a one hour coach trip to Snagov Monastery. Here we saw the old Romania. 
 
Our final farewell lunch was at Hanu’ lui Manuc.  Whilst the food was better and a bit hotter, we still had the obligatory pickled veg, which I declined.  I had Greek style salad, Goulash with just two pieces of beef (yes 2!), beans and sliced garlic, fresh fruit salad.
 
Day 5 – Departure day, a day that couldn’t come quick enough for me! After checking out, two of us had lunch in the hotel bar.  This was the best and hottest meal we had throughout the holiday.  On departure to the airport, another sightseeing tour of Bucharest.  Another upgraded flight for a very reasonable price.
 
I must say this Christmas holiday was horrible and the worst I have been on.  Whilst the Novotel hotel was good, the breakfast and dinner was awful.  It was cold/warm rather than warm/hot.  The menu for all dinners and lunches did not offer much variation and was very repetitive, particularly for lunch and dinner on Christmas day.  In its present form, this holiday should be dropped or reorganised completely.  
 
For me, what makes a Christmas holiday is attending mass on either the Eve or Day and a good lunch and dinner.  Sadly this trip did not satisfy either of my wants.  JY should consider offering compensation for the awful food and providing a Christmas holiday not as described in the brochure.

Regards
Sylvia
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Post: #2
Hi Sylvia,

Thank you for your patience, as you know we have been investigating all the points raised in your review.

I know that our Customer Care Team has been speaking to you directly and have also written to you. However I wanted to post an explanation for the benefit of everyone on the forum:

We took the decision to make some changes to this holiday, based on customer feedback from our Christmas 2017 trip. There were two areas of feedback that were consistent – the request for more local cuisine and that the excursion to Bran Castle should in future be a full day as there is so much to see there.

We took the decision to include more local dishes for this trip, however this does not seem to have been to everyone’s taste. We will be looking to ensure a variety of food choices are available on future tours.

Regarding the excursion to Bran Castle, we extended the trip so it was a full day, as customers had requested. Unfortunately, the weather was not as good last year as it was in 2017, this may have affected the enjoyment of the day.

We have spoken to our Product team about looking at various tours of Bucharest, as this has not been raised by customers previously. They do see the benefits of having one full city tour which then allows customers to do their own thing and relax, and they will be looking into this further.

In previous years we have arranged for customers to get to the Church early for mass, to ensure they got a seat. This has proved unpopular in the feedback we’ve had, so this year we arranged the visit during the three hours that mass is held. We are sorry however, that it was so busy you were unable to attend.

We have taken your feedback on board regarding being greeted at the airport.

We also appreciate your frustration regarding check-in arrangements. Please be assured that we will continue to lobby airlines to provide passengers, who are on group bookings, with the same options as other customers.

I hope that this offers some reassurance that we have taken your comments seriously and thank you for taking the time to write this review.

Many thanks,
Vickie
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Post: #3
Hi Sylvia,

I am sorry to read of your experiences in Romania last Christmas - I have been waiting to read your review as I hope to visit Romania in a year or two.  Reading Vickie's explanation doesn't offer much comfort, as the decisions made by JY and the local agents seem to have made the trip more disappointing still.  I know the eight day summer season tour is quite different and offers more variety; however I think I will see if there are any reviews of the summer tour before I decide whether to book it, or go with another company.  I do hope that JY are generous in the compensation they offer you (and others, no doubt) for what sounds a deeply miserable experience at a time of year when you would think all the stops would be pulled out for a magical time.

Best wishes,

Bob
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Post: #4
Vickie - Thanks. It's all well and good to make changes to a holiday after customer feedback, but it should not be at the expense of advertising a holiday that falls foul of trading standards.

Bob - I should imagine the longer Romania trip will work. However the shorter Christmas trip just didn't flow smoothly.

Regards
Sylvia
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Post: #5
Hi Sylvia

Sorry to read about your experience. From what I can gather, it seems you were eating the same food most of the time. It is fine to have options of local cuisine, but surely there should be a variety and not the same things. I would like to go to Romania one day and hope I will be served vegetarian food!

Regards

Jaya
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Post: #6
(24/02/2019, 06:20 PM)Jaya Wrote: Hi Sylvia

Sorry to read about your experience.  From what I can gather, it seems you were eating the same food most of the time.  It is fine to have options of local cuisine, but surely there should be a variety and not the same things.  I would like to go to Romania one day and hope I will be served vegetarian food!

Regards

Jaya

Jaya

As a vegetarian, you'll be fine with pickled vegetables and stuffed cabbage leaves galore!  

Sylvia
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Post: #7
Hi Sylvia

I think this trip would be good for me as I will definitely lose some weight!

Jaya
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