Things you should know before you go
Booking confirmation/invoice and tickets
Once you have booked your holiday with us and we have received your deposit (full payment due at the time of booking if less than 60 days (90 for cruise and private train holidays) prior to departure), we will send you a confirmation/invoice. This will summarise the arrangements made on your behalf, the outstanding balance and the date by which it must be received by us. Please check these details carefully ensuring that the initials or forenames and surnames given match those on your passport as we make reservations using this information and any inaccuracies will cause problems at a later date. Please contact us immediately if there are any inaccuracies. As your holiday approaches, we write to you again approximately 10 weeks prior to your departure to remind you of certain points concerning your holiday. Then, approximately 10 days prior to departure date, your final holiday documentation is sent. Individual flight and train tickets are NOT usually sent out in advance, but are given out by your Tour Manager at check-in.
Foreign Office Advice
You are responsible for making yourself aware of Foreign Office advice and warnings in regard to the safety of the countries and areas in which you will be travelling to and to make your decisions accordingly. Global and political situations do change. Your safety is our first consideration and if the Foreign Office advises against travel to a certain country, we act on this advice. Advice from the Foreign Office to avoid or leave a particular country may constitute Force Majeure. The Foreign Office issues regular advice and updates on its website www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice which you are recommended to consult before booking and in good time before departure.
Passports, visas and insurance
Please note that you are entirely responsible for ensuring that everyone in your party has the necessary correct and up-to-date personal documentation before you start the holiday and that you all fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your chosen tour. We do not accept any liability if you are refused entry onto any transport or into any country due to failure on your part to carry correct documentation. If failure to have any necessary travel or other documents results in fines, surcharges or other financial penalty, costs or expenses being imposed on us, you will be responsible for reimbursing us accordingly. For British Citizens, a standard 10 year British passport is required for all holidays which must be valid for at least six months beyond your planned date of return travel. If your passport expires before this, it may still be acceptable, but you should contact your local passport office or the consulate or embassy of the country/countries you plan to visit/transit through, for detailed advice. Information is also available on or through the Foreign Office website www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice. Customers applying for a first British passport should allow at least six weeks to obtain one as they are now required to attend a personal interview with the Passport Office. Customers renewing their passport should allow a minimum of 2 to 3 weeks. However, in all cases, please apply as far ahead as possible so as to allow time for unexpected delays.
We will advise British Citizens with a British passport at the time of booking of any visa requirements and we indicate in the 'Departures Panel' section of each tour whether British Citizens require a visa to enter the country or countries included in the holiday. Please note that when travelling on any of our cruise holidays, if you wish to explore the ports visited independently then you may also need to obtain additional visas for those destinations. We endeavour to keep the information regarding visa requirements up to date but requirements may change at short notice and we recommend that you check the latest position in good time before your departure. Information on this subject is available on or through the Foreign Office website www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
If you have a British passport issued outside of the UK or if you are not a British Citizen, you must check immigration requirements with the relevant embassy or consulate of the country/countries that you plan to visit or transit through.
Our ability and that of our recommended visa agent to obtain any visa depends on you providing all information, documents (including your passport) and photographs, as applicable and accurately, when requested. If any application is refused or not granted in time and you are unable to travel on the holiday as a result, cancellation charges as shown in the booking conditions will apply.
It is your responsibility to check and fulfil the passport, visa, health and immigration requirements applicable to your itinerary. We do not accept any responsibility if you cannot travel, or incur any other loss because you have not complied with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities. You agree to reimburse us in relation to any fines or other losses which we incur as a result of your failure to comply with any passport, visa, immigration requirements or health formalities.
Our recommended VISA agent
The process of applying for holiday visas with embassies and consulates can sometimes be confusing and time consuming and we will usually recommend a visa agent to assist you with this process. The visa agent we suggest you use is established and experienced and will save you time and worry. Dealing with our recommended Visa Agent avoids costly trips to London to visit embassies and consulates to spend several hours queuing; our agent takes care of all the necessary paperwork; and importantly they make sure you get the right visas on the right dates for the holiday that you are travelling on. Whilst you are free to apply with embassies and consulates directly, many customers have mentioned the peace of mind is the biggest advantage that our recommended visa agent offers through their service, knowledge and efficiency.
The ability of our recommended visa agent to obtain any visa depends on you providing all information, documents (including your passport) and photographs, as applicable and accurately, when requested. If any application is refused or not granted in time and you are unable to travel on the holiday as a result, cancellation charges as shown in the booking conditions will apply.
Our recommended visa agent is CIBT Visas, their website is www.cibtvisas.co.uk. Contact Telephone number 0207 593 6182.
Important note: the Visa Agent is entirely independent of Great Rail Journeys and we cannot accept any responsibility for the provision of the service or the Visa Agent's acts and omissions.
Insurance and holiday duration
It is a condition of booking that you take out sufficient and appropriate travel insurance cover. We recommend you do this at time of booking so that your deposit (less any applicable excess) is recoverable in the event of a cancellation covered by the policy. To purchase the insurance policy we offer please contact us for details. If you take out your own cover please provides us with details of the Insurance Company, the policy number and the 24-hour emergency telephone number when requested. It is your responsibility to ensure that the insurance cover you purchase is suitable and adequate for your particular needs. We do not check alternative insurance policies. The duration of the holiday in the brochure or on our website includes the day of departure and day of return and is the period to be used for insurance purposes. Read our policy details carefully and take them with you on holiday. Should you choose to extend your holiday (either at the start or the end of your holiday), you will need to extend the duration of your insurance cover. If you choose to travel without adequate insurance cover, we will not be liable for any losses howsoever arising, in respect of which insurance cover would otherwise have been available.
Regrettably, many of our tours are not suitable for customers with certain disabilities and they can also be physically demanding. Please let us know if you suffer from any medical condition or physical disability, which may affect your holiday arrangements or the booking process, or have any health or fitness concerns which may affect your ability to cope with the tour before any booking is made. If we are to help you choose the right holiday for your health, mobility and fitness, we must be aware of all details. Please note that Tour Managers cannot provide individual assistance with boarding trains or coaches, or handle your luggage. It is your responsibility to provide us with full and accurate details of your mobility, health and fitness (including any disability), so we can advise you on the suitability of tours. As standard practice all customers are asked at the point of booking whether they have any mobility limitations or health concerns which may impact on their holiday. Customers are required to provide all relevant information to ensure that this matter has been carefully considered and we are aware of any issues. If you are in any doubt as to whether the holiday you hope to book is suitable for you, please discuss this with our Reservations Team at the time of making your booking. We want all our customers to enjoy their holiday to the full, and are here to help answer any mobility, disability, health and fitness issues or concerns. You must advise us of any change in any disability or medical condition or in your health or level of mobility or if any medical condition or disability which may effect your holiday develops, between booking your holiday and joining your tour.
It is your responsibility to ensure you are aware of all recommended vaccinations and health precautions in good time before departure. Details are available from your GP surgery and from the National Travel Health Network and Centre www.nathnac.org. Information on health abroad is also available on www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Travelhealth. For European holidays, you should obtain the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) prior to departure from www.ehic.org.uk for access to health care in many European countries. An EHIC is not a substitute for travel insurance. We will advise British Citizens of any applicable health formalities before or at the time of booking. Vaccination and other health requirements/recommendations are subject to change at any time for any destination. Please therefore check with a doctor or clinic not less than six weeks prior to departure to ensure that you have met the necessary requirements and have the applicable information.
- All our basic holiday prices are expressed in £ sterling and are per person, based on 2 people sharing.
- Supplements for accommodation upgrades are usually expressed per room or cabin/sleeper, on the assumption that two people are occupying it.
- Single supplements or prices are naturally expressed per person.
- In some hotels, triple or family rooms may be available and we are happy to provide a quotation accordingly.
- A hotel room shared by two people may contain a double or twin beds. In some countries a double bed may consist of two beds pushed or linked together.
- A single hotel room may be a 'true' single or may be a single occupancy of a double or twin room. Either way, the supplement shown is payable.
- Hotel rooms, particularly in older properties, may differ in size and amenities offered.
- Sleeping accommodation on trains is likely to take the form of seating which converts into a berth at night.
- Most hotel rooms and cabins on cruise ships include en suite facilities, which may be bath and WC or shower and WC. Shared facilities exist on some tours and are specified on the relevant brochure page.
- Rooms/cabins are not usually available before 2pm on day of arrival and must usually be vacated by 11am on day of departure. You may request a specific configuration, room type or room location but, while we pass on all requests to our hotel partners, neither we nor they can guarantee that what you request can or will be provided.
- Please check the 'Included in your Tour' panels to see what meals are included on each holiday.
- Hotels: Meals are generally taken in the restaurant of the hotel. We usually dine together, with a set 'table d'hote' style menu that will often feature regional dishes. Drinks are usually not included in our arrangements.
- Trains: On private trains, most meals are included and are taken in the restaurant car of the train. If you are travelling Standard Premier Class on Eurostar a light meal and drinks are included, served at your seat.
- Cruise Ships: Meals are normally included, and are taken in the ship's main restaurant.
- Special diets: If you have a specific dietary need please discuss it with us before you book. We will do our best to cater for special diets when notified in advance however cannot guarantee that your requirements will be met. The more information we have, the better, but even then, some suppliers find it difficult to satisfy every requirement. If you have a food allergy or intolerance you must declare it to us prior to travel so that we are able to notify our suppliers.
Meals on board (Only in cruise specific brochures)
Please check the individual holiday itinerary and the 'Included in your Tour' panels to see what meals are included on each holiday. Once on board, each morning, enjoy a full buffet breakfast featuring a selection of fresh bread and pastries, eggs, fresh fruit, cheese and much more. For lunch on board, you can generally expect a full menu with several courses, or a light alternative such as a fresh salad buffet is usually available. Each evening on your cruise, you are treated to multi-course menus of regional or international specialities, all with a selection of wines available, and some cruises offer wine included in the price.
Meals times on board (Only in cruise specific brochures)
Breakfast and lunch are flexible (normally between 7-9am and 12-2pm respectively), meanwhile dinner is generally taken at a more fixed time. Dinner can be either free seating or at an allocated table, depending on the capacity of the ship's restaurant, and is more of a formal experience, with several courses being served.
Shore excursions (Only in cruise specific brochures)
On some cruises, shore excursions are included in the price of your holiday; however on other cruises they will be available at each of our ports of call, but at an additional cost - this information is clearly detailed on each tour page. Where shore excursions are optional and not included in the price of your holiday, there will be a selection of tours bookable on board at additional cost. You have the choice to buy these or explore independently. Prices for optional shore excursions vary depending on the contents and can be from, say, £15 for a guided walk to over £60 for a visit to a well known attraction with perhaps entertainment and a meal. A good rule of thumb is to budget approximately £30-£50 per person per shore excursion. Some optional shore excursions are subject to minimum numbers, including minimum numbers of English speaking customers for the inclusion of English language guides. Where the shore excursion is an optional extra, it is not included in the package we sell to you and does not form part of your contracted arrangements with us. For any optional shore excursion that you book, your contract will be with the operator of the shore excursion and not with us. We are not responsible for the provision of the shore excursion or for anything that happens during the course of its provision by the operator.
Special evenings on board (Only in cruise specific brochures)
On most cruises, there will be a Welcome Reception on either the first or second night on board the ship, which is when the ship's officers and management present themselves to guests. In addition, there is normally a further gala event and a 'Farewell' evening at the end of your time on board.
Dress code (Only in cruise specific brochures)
Casual dress is fine on board during the day and low-heeled rubber soled shoes are recommended for strolling around the decks, with comfortable walking shoes or sandals for your time ashore. For the evening, smart casual dress is generally appropriate, and during 'Welcome' and 'Farewell' evenings and gala events, the recommended dress code includes jacket and tie for gentlemen and cocktail attire for ladies.
Money on board (Only in cruise specific brochures)
Cruise ships operate a cash-less system, with incidental expenses (eg. purchases from the gift shop, optional shore excursions, bar purchases etc.) being signed for at the point of purchase. An account is established for each guest, and this is settled at the end of the cruise. To keep track of your expenses, you can normally check your account at any point through the cruise through the Ship's Purser or Reception Desk. At the end of the cruise, a final statement will be delivered to your cabin for payment through either the Ship's Purser or Reception. Several payment options exist, including credit and debit cards, approved ship currency or travellers cheques. Currency varies between ships and destinations - with the Euro being the most common.
The price of your holiday usually allows us to reward staff who serve you during your time on a GRJ holiday and on some occasions, your Tour Manager will provide a gratuity on behalf of the group. However, there are instances when an additional gratuity may be appropriate, perhaps because it is customary in your host country, or because of the nature of the activity undertaken, or simply because you have received exceptional service. Cruising has an established culture of tipping and your Tour Manager will be on hand to offer advice on this topic. Such additional gratuities will be on an individual basis and at your own discretion, however our river cruise partners recommend you should budget for tips of approximately €8-12 per person per day, provided you feel you have received good service. On ocean cruises there is a fixed service charge of US$11-12 per person per day plus a 15% gratuity automatically added to bar charges and wine purchases.
Our holidays are planned many months in advance. We do our best to follow the detailed itineraries shown, but reserve the right to make changes if we need to react to schedule changes or local conditions. The sightseeing tours and excursions described may also have to be amended to suit local conditions or Public Holidays
We request rail reservations many months in advance but occasionally there are insufficient First Class (or equivalent) seats available. In these situations we will book Standard Class seats and refund the difference to you. Although we do our best to follow the routes noted in the itinerary there might be occasions when a different routing or departure time is necessary due to timetable variations or seat availability. Increasingly, trains are 100% non-smoking, and reservations are requested in non smoking accommodation, although at busy times we may be allocated some smoking seats. We cannot make specific requests for smoking seats. Prices quoted in this brochure are based on special fares, negotiated with our rail partners for group travel. Should you wish to travel on any Eurostar or other rail service, other than that included as part of your group holiday, a rail variation charge of £25 per person per service will apply in addition to the difference in cost between our special group fare and the normal published fare applicable at time of request for the journey in question. Any change involving sleeper services will be quoted on an individual basis. Tickets for Eurostar train services are issued subject to the conditions set out in Eurostar International Limited's conditions of carriage and/or the conditions of carriage of the carrier in question, copies of which are available from travel agents appointed by Eurostar International Limited or supplied on request.
For travellers wishing to avoid London, many Great Rail Journeys tours can be arranged to depart from Ebbsfleet International. In some instances, travellers electing to depart from Ebbsfleet International may have to travel on an earlier train from the main group who depart from St Pancras International. See Rail reservations above for applicable fees.
The vast majority of flights operate without problems, although the reality of air travel in the world today is that congestion and economic pressures can lead to the possibility of lost luggage, delay, cancellation and overbooking. Crowded airports, queues, check-in, security and flights are often a test of patience and endurance, and customers should be prepared to cope with the consequences of disruption including delays. In the event of undue delay the group will be looked after in accordance with the standard practice of the scheduled carrier or transport operator.
International flights are generally provided by major scheduled airlines and are usually but not always direct to your destination. Where flights are indirect, your baggage will always be checked through to your final destination. Your holiday price is based on economy class seating unless otherwise specified. If known at time of printing, we show the name of the airline we plan to fly with although this can be subject to change. The type of aircraft is not usually known at the time of printing, but if it is of interest to you we are happy to provide this information when we can. Regardless of any information given in good faith, operational changes can be made by an airline at any point and we cannot be responsible for this. Prices quoted in this brochure are based on special fares offered to us by the airlines for group travel. These represent a reduction on the normal IATA fares which generally include greater flexibility. Should you wish to book our holiday using a flight other than that shown in the brochure, a flight variation charge of £50 per person will apply in addition to the difference in cost between our special fare and the normal IATA fare for the flight(s) required. Tickets at our special fare are valid only on the airline and dates shown and do not automatically entitle passengers to switch to another carrier in the case of a flight cancellation, delay or technical problem with the aircraft or the reservation. While we pass on any airline seating requests, no guarantees can be given by us or by the airline. Additional leg-room will be provided if you purchase a flight upgrade.
The vast majority of flights operate without problems, although the reality of air travel in the world today is that congestion and economic pressures can lead to the possibility of lost luggage, delay, cancellation and overbooking. Crowded airports, queues, check-in, security and flights are often a test of patience and endurance, and customers should be prepared to cope with the consequences of disruption including delays. In the event of undue delay the group will be looked after in accordance with the standard practice of the scheduled carrier or transport operator. Travel Insurance policies can be worth their weight in gold under such circumstances and we strongly recommend that you take a fully comprehensive policy to cover you for your holiday.
Maintenance and development work
Every holiday visits a number of different destinations. There may well be maintenance, re-development, building, road works or track work in the vicinity of any of the hotels. If we know about such work and any associated disruption or noise which is reasonably likely to affect the enjoyment of your holiday, we make every effort to tell you about it as quickly as possible. Please appreciate that we are not the only passengers travelling on the trains or ships used in our holidays, nor the only guests staying in the hotels. We cannot be held responsible for the behaviour or noise of others.
In some countries, you may experience laws and standards that might not be the same as you are used to in the UK. On some holidays we visit countries with less advanced infrastructures. Travellers with an open, yet cautious mind and a flexible approach should enjoy the experience.
CLIA UK & Ireland
CLIA UK & Ireland brings together cruise lines, travel agents and associated partners to help promote cruise holidays within the UK and Ireland.
Our ABTA membership
Rail Discoveries is a tour operator member of ABTA Ltd, and our ABTA number is V2170. We are obliged to maintain a high standard of service to you by ABTA's Code of Conduct. We can also offer you ABTA's scheme for the resolution of disputes which is approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute. If we can't resolve your complaint, go to www.abta.com to use ABTA's simple procedure. Further information on the Code and ABTA's assistance in resolving disputes can be found on www.abta.com. You can also access the European Commission Online Dispute (ODR) Resolution platform at http://ec.europa.eu/consumers/odr/. This ODR platform is a means of registering your complaint with us; it will not determine how your complaint should be resolved.
Our ATOL number is 3278. All the flights and flight-inclusive holidays* in this brochure or on our website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay, you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see clause 19 of our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to http://www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate.
*The flights and flight-inclusive holidays we arrange are ATOL protected providing they are made available in the UK.
Our AITO membership
Great Rail Journeys is a member of the Association of Independent Tour Operators, an organisation representing over 150 of Britain's best specialist tour operators. Members of AITO strive to create holidays with high levels of professionalism and a shared concern for quality, personal service and customer satisfaction. The Association encourages the highest standards in all aspects of tour operating and all members are fully bonded for clients' protection, in compliance with UK and European regulations. Great Rail Journeys - like all other AITO members - are also bound by the organisation's Quality Charter. For further information about AITO visit www.aito.com or call 020 8744 9280.
AITO Quality Charter
AITO is the Association for independent and specialist holiday companies. Our member companies, usually owner-managed, strive to create overseas holidays with high levels of professionalism and a shared concern for quality and personal service. The Association encourages the highest standards in all aspects of tour operating.
AITO sets criteria regarding ownership, finance and quality which must be satisfied before new companies are admitted to membership. All members are required t adhere to a Code of Business Practice which encourages high operational standards and conduct.
An AITO member is required to arrange financial protection for all holidays and other arrangements (including accommodation only) booked by customers with the member under the AITO logo. This financial protection applies to customers who are resident in the UK at the time of booking and to most overseas customers who have booked directly with the member. In doing so, the member must comply with UK Government regulations. Members are required to submit details of their financial protection arrangements to AITO on a regular basis.
Accurate brochures and websites
All members do their utmost to ensure that all their brochures and other publications print or electronic, clearly and accurately describe the holidays and services offered.
Professional service and continual improvements
All members are committed to high standards of service and believe in regular and through training of employees. Members continually seek to review and improve their holidays. They listen to their customers and always welcome suggestions for improving standards.
AITO endeavours to monitor quality standards regularly. All customers should receive a post-holiday questionnaire from their tour operators, the results of which are scrutinised by the Association.
In addition, customers can leave detailed feedback, accessible from the homepage of AITO's website, or via a direct link supplied by their AITO tour operator, about their holiday.
Our members acknowledge the importance if AITO's Sustainable Tourism ethos, which recognises the social, economic and environmental responsibilities of tour operating.
All members endeavour to deal swiftly and fairly with any issues their customers may raise. In the unlikely event that a dispute between an AITO member and a customer cannot be settled amicably, AITO's low-cost Independent Dispute Settlement Service may be called upon by either side to bring the matter to a speedy and acceptable conclusion. For further information about AITO visit www.aito.com or call 020 8744 9280.
Links to external websites
Throughout the website we provide links to external websites owned by third parties, for example the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the Department of Health. Please note that such third parties are not ABTA members and that Rail Discoveries Ltd is not responsible for the content of their sites. For links to each page of this website, see our website sitemap.
Head office and contact address
Rail Discoveries Ltd
9 St Saviourgate
Tel: 01904 734939
Registered in England No: 3208093
VAT Registration No: 870 3844 14