Q. How do I reserve space on one of your tours?
A. In order to reserve your space on a tour, we must receive a deposit in the amount indicated for that tour (deposits vary between $1500USD and $3000USD depending on the tour). For those wishing to register for a tour set to commence within 60 days of registration, payment of the full cost of the tour is required.
Q. How should I pay my deposit/balance?
A. Payments may be made by Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover (the last in USD only) or wire, though we encourage payment by cheque or bank draft. Tour costs are stated in US Dollars and include all taxes and fees. All credit card payments will be processed directly in US dollars unless otherwise requested. Some credit card issuers will charge a Foreign Transaction Fee, which can amount to as much as 3% of the total payments made to us, as we are located in Canada. Please note that this is not a charge added by Aria Tours, and is solely at the discretion of the credit card issuer.
Q. Is there an advantage to paying by cheque?
A. Clients who pay their entire tour cost by cheque or bank draft will be entitled to a 1.5% reduction of the total cost of the tour.
For an extensive list of credit cards that do not charge foreign transaction fees, click here.
Q. How much does it cost to send a letter/cheque to Canada?
A. A single $1.15 stamp.
Q. Are flights included in the tour cost?
A. No. As we have tour members from all corners of the globe, and as members are free to fly any itinerary or class of service they so chose, we cannot feasibly include flight costs.
Q. Can I arrive early/depart late?
A. Yes, we can reserve extra room nights for you at the best published rate, and we can provide transfers at cost.
Q. Can I change/customize the tour itinerary to suit my needs?
A. If you require slight changes to the tour program, or if you would like additional arrangements before or after the tour schedule, we are happy to accommodate you. If you prefer to opt out of a given tour event you may do so, but a refund may not be possible (depending on the type of event and determined on a case-by-case basis).
Q. Can I bring a friend, who is not part of the tour group, to a tour event?
A. We are reluctant to allow this, as it can affect the cohesiveness of the group. That said, feel free to make the request, as we may make exceptions in certain circumstances.
Q. What if I have dietary concerns, or food/other allergies?
A. We take these concerns very seriously, and are more than happy to address them. We do so diligently, and with great success—this is from a traveller on a past tour:
Thanks, again, for a great trip! We thoroughly enjoyed it, and, again, appreciate your attention to detail regarding Sam’s dietary needs. It makes the trip so much more relaxed knowing that is something we don’t have to stress about – you are doing the stressing for us!”
Q. How much walking is involved?
A. Guided tours are usually walking tours, occasionally on cobblestones, and usually not more than 3 hours maximum. We will provide transfers for tour events where walking at a reasonable pace would take more than 10 minutes.
Q. What if I have mobility issues or other disabilities?
A. All of our tours are inclusive, regardless of mobility level. Mobility concerns only come into play for walking tours and when we stay in hotels close enough to performance venues that those with good to excellent mobility have no difficulty walking there in under 10 minutes. If even one member of a group has poor mobility, we will hire a 2nd tour guide as needed for walking tours, and customize the tour as needed, making it a coach or minivan tour if necessary. If tour members with limited mobility are not able to walk to performance venues where the rest of the group will do so, we will provide transfers at no additional cost. If you require assistance while walking or are in a wheelchair and require assistance while using it, you must travel with a companion. We offer customized packages for travelling companions that are priced according to their desired level of participation in the tour. If you do not have a companion to travel with, we can offer a package that will include mobility assistance. If you require attention and assistance beyond mobility issues, we may be able to accommodate you, and we will address this on a case-by-case basis.
Q. Do you cancel tours?
A. If six travellers register for a tour, it will run as published, with an Aria Tours director. If fewer than six travellers register, the tour may be cancelled, and registrants will be notified within 60 days of the tour start whether this is the case. In some instances, when it becomes necessary for Aria Tours to cancel a tour, registrants will have the option to receive a full refund or proceed with the tour on a self-directed basis. In the latter instance, certain refunds will apply as circumstances dictate and will be addressed on a case-by-case basis.
Q. What if a tour is cancelled and we have booked our flights/insurance?
A. Aria Tours is not responsible for any costs incurred by registrants for cancelled itineraries. We recommend that tour members not book flights or insurance (unless otherwise necessary; for example, if insurance must be purchased within 21 days of deposit payment to assure coverage for pre-existing conditions) until the minimum number of registrants required (usually five) for the tour to go ahead has been met. Most airlines have rules that allow for certain refunds or transferability when passengers must cancel.
Our insurance provider allows for transferability of insurance policies for another trip within the same calendar year. They will also refund a portion of your policy payment if you’ve insured the entire cost of the tour, but you cancel before the balance payment is made and before cancellation penalties apply (90 days prior to departure).
Q. Where are the seats located for performances?
A. Our seats for performances and events are always excellent. We think that seats between the 6th and 15th row in the central orchestra section of most venues are ideal for opera. Where preferable, we may select boxes or front row grand tier, again, depending on the venue. Whether you join us for a tour that features performances at Bayreuth, La Scala, Glyndebourne or the Lyric Opera in Chicago, you will enjoy best seats in the house.
Q. What sort of hotels do you use?
A. Our hotels are 5 star (and occasionally 4 star) properties, thoroughly researched and inspected, and always highly rated and highly recommended. We prefer small luxury hotels, rather than large “chain” properties. Hotels are selected for their elegance and charm, for their ideal location, for the size and quality of their rooms, for the warmth and efficiency of the staff, and for the overall experience they provide. We always secure Deluxe category rooms for our tour members.
Q. What are tour meals like? Do you include wine?
A. We spend a great deal of time researching restaurants, and have found what we think are the best in each city, selected for exquisite, regional cuisine, ambience and gracious service. In many cases, these are “hidden gem” restaurants not frequented by tourists. On occasion, we dine in historic or Michelin-starred restaurants that are well known (and for good reason). We are very generous with menus and wines. Meals are usually 3-5 course affairs, depending on the time of day and portion size, and a choice for each course is usually offered. We cater to any and all dietary concerns. Wines at most meals will be pre-selected by Aria Tours, and will be what we think are the best examples of local varietals (where quality allows it—rarely a problem in Italy or France, for example).
Q. How do we travel between cities?
A. Usually by luxury coach, occasionally by First Class rail or economy flights. We assist with baggage.
Q. How early do tour days start?
A. Guided tours will usually start at 10 am, but on occasion, we are required to start slightly earlier than that. Transfer between cities will normally begin between 9am and 10am.
Q. Do you work with travel agents?
A. Yes. But as our profit margins are small (because our groups are small), we offer, as a courtesy, a $350 referral fee per referred client, as we do all of the work (apart from flights, which agents are free to do).