Coronavirus FAQ for Rick Steves Tour Members
Please read this FAQ before contacting us, as it may answer your question. If not, we can assist travelers with upcoming tours via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As a tour operator, we put our travelers' safety first. We are watching the situation in Europe very closely and following the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This page was last revised on May 11, 2020.
All Rick Steves' Europe tours are cancelled through August 15, 2020. We are not currently accepting final payments for any tours in 2020, as we wait to see how the fall season unfolds.
We are committed to dealing ethically and clearly with our travelers. If we cancel your tour, you'll receive all your prepaid cash back. If you chose to cancel your reserved seat at least 60 days before your departure date and before we cancel your tour, you'll get a full credit on a future Rick Steves tour (through 2022). For more details, read on. Then, if you still have any concerns or questions, please contact us by email.
Tour Cancellation Questions
Are Rick Steves tours still operating?
We are canceling all of our tours with start dates through August 15, 2020. We will provide a 100% refund for each affected tour member, issued to the original payment method. We are processing the cancellations as fast as we can.
We are not accepting final payments for any tours in 2020, as we wait to see how the fall season will unfold. If we cancel your fall 2020 tour, we will refund your deposit. If your tour does run, we will contact you with the due date for your final payment.
My tour is still operating — but should I cancel my booking?
The decision is ultimately yours. We will not lead a tour until we feel conditions improve and the tour can be done safely and reliably. We understand that some may not be comfortable traveling any time in 2020. You may cancel with no financial loss and we'll bank a credit for you on a future tour (through 2022) on a date and itinerary of your choice.
My 2020 tour with a departure date after August 15 is still operating, but I've decided to cancel my booking or transfer to another tour. What should I do?
While we are hopeful that we can do Fall 2020 tours, we will not do any until we are confident that they can be done safely and reliably. If travel is still ill-advised, we will cancel these departures and refund all the money deposited. For those wanting to cancel before we make this decision, they can do so and get a credit on a future Rick Steves tour, even if it is within 60 days of the tour departure date.
You've cancelled my tour. Can you transfer me to a new one?
Under normal circumstances, we would happily transfer you. But considering the volume of cancellations, refunds, and inquiries that come with this crisis, we are not offering transfers at the time of cancellation. Instead, we will automatically provide a full refund; we encourage you to choose a future Rick Steves tour and rebook when we are confident enough about travel conditions to start taking bookings again. Trust us: we are eager to do just that and you'll be the first to know… but we are determined to proceed smartly and conservatively.
I have a credit for a 2021 tour. When will you release 2021 tour dates?
We haven't set a specific date, but we hope to announce 2021 tour dates this summer. We will be careful to communicate this news to all concerned as soon as we make a decision.
We are currently in the process of cancelling hundreds of tours and refunding thousands of travelers. Your deposit is in a protected account and we are working hard to get your refund to you as quickly as possible. All refunds are made within two weeks of the date a tour is cancelled. Thanks for your patience.
How will I receive my refund?
If possible, your refund will be issued against your original form of payment — credit card, ACH, check, or a re-issued Rick Steves' credit. If we can't refund your original form of payment — if you paid us by ACH more than 90 days ago, for example — we'll cut you a check.
How long will it take for me to receive my refund?
We are committed to making your refund within two weeks of a tour's cancellation. However, you may actually receive the refund a little later than that. Given the current situation in the USA, we have been seeing delays occurring with banks, credit card companies and mail delivery. If you used multiple methods of payment, the different financial institutions might have different processing times.
If you haven't received your refund three weeks after being notified that your tour was cancelled, please let us know, and we'll follow up.
Why can't I just transfer to a new tour and avoid the refund?
We are thankful that so many of those booked on our tours want to transfer to a later departure. But because of the volume of cancellations, our determination to get people their refund or credit as cleanly and quickly as possible, and the fact that — at this point — we don't know when we'll be able to actually re-start our tour program, we feel it is better for all of our travelers for us to keep it simple: to refund or credit our travelers for tours cancelled or seats cancelled and encourage them to rebook when we are prepared to take new bookings.
Can I just tell my credit card company to cancel the charge?
This is not a smart idea — for you, for us, or for other travelers. The original charge was for a legitimate transaction. If you notify your credit card company, they will issue us a "charge back" and flag the transaction as fraudulent. That requires us to spend time gathering documentation to prove the transaction was valid. The end result is often higher fees for all of us, the charge being reinstated on your card, a delay in processing your refund, and diverted staff — which only hurts other travelers. If your tour has been cancelled, we will refund you 100 percent and there is nothing you need to do.
I cancelled a tour in 2019 and used my credit to purchase the tour you cancelled. Can I get a refund?
Tour credits are not refundable. We are returning funds for cancelled tours to the original method(s) of payment — and credits used to pay part of your 2020 tour balance are considered a method of payment. Therefore, a credit from 2019 will go back into your account with us. We will extend the expiration date through 2021 — meaning it can be applied to any tour departing in 2020 or 2021.
When tours resume, will RSE require coronavirus screenings of tour members before they can join the tour?
It's much too soon to know what public health guidelines (or legal requirements) will be in place in the EU and US when travel resumes. Of course, we'll follow all laws and public health best practices for our tours, and will communicate those guidelines as soon as they are available.
What if my tour goes ahead, but some sights are closed or my tour changes?
As always, our tour itineraries are subject to change — and often do so, even in the absence of major world events. We won't resume our tour program until we feel we can offer a great tour experience. But, even though we will not rush this resumption, we expect the first months of post-crisis European travel will require a little extra flexibility. We expect a warm and hearty welcome (as we've received after past crises have interrupted tourism in Europe) but there may be certain sights not yet ready for the return of tours. We see this as part of the fun of travel; Europe has a “deep bench” of thrills to make those itineraries plenty rewarding. While we are as eager as our travelers to get back on the road together, the safety of our tour groups will always be paramount.
What if the CDC changes its travel advisories in the middle of my tour?
We expect the first months after Europe reopens for tourism to come with a little uncertainty and, over time, things will become more solidly normal again. If we are mid-tour and the CDC recommends any restrictions against travel to the country we are in (or will be going to during the tour), we will continue operating the tour but adapt it as needed, depending on the circumstances. (For example, we will re-route a tour if it is scheduled to go through an area that has been quarantined.) We will assist tour members who wish to leave mid-tour (giving them a pro-rated refund), but we will not cancel a tour during its operation except in the most severe circumstances.
What if someone on my tour gets sick, or is diagnosed with the coronavirus?
If a tour member is diagnosed with the coronavirus, our tour will follow all directives from the local authorities. This may include a quarantine.
If a tour member shows the symptoms of the coronavirus, the tour guide will put them in touch with a local health provider to be screened. Find out more information on RSE's policies for maintaining group health on tour.
What if we are quarantined in the middle of my tour?
We will work with your tour guide, the hotel, and the local authorities to mitigate the situation as best we can. This situation is unprecedented and we can't predict how events will unfold, but we always operate in the best interests of our tour members.
Other Travel Questions
What is the current travel situation in Europe?
On March 19, the US State Department issued a Level 4 international travel advisory, recommending that Americans avoid all international travel at this time.
Where can I get trustworthy information about coronavirus?
We are relying on the World Health Organization (WHO). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the US State Department provide information about US travel restrictions and other guidance.
Can RSE help me cancel my other tickets and plans, or negotiate with my travel insurance company?
No, we're not able to assist you in canceling plans made or tickets booked with other companies. If your tour has been canceled (or you are canceling your booking), please contact those companies directly. If you have travel insurance, contact them directly as well in case of any non-refundable expenditures.
My tour has been cancelled. What do I do about my plane tickets?
While RSE is refunding 100% of your tour payments on cancelled tours, our tour members may incur a cost when cancelling or changing prepaid flights (and other non-tour pre-payments related to your tour). If you purchased travel insurance, you may be covered — contact your insurance provider directly to find out.
If an airline cancels a flight, they refund any money paid. If the traveler wants to cancel, their policies vary. Many airlines are being generous in refunding the prepayments on flights that travelers decide not to take. Some airlines will levy a cost for such cancellations. Check directly with your airline to see their policies — which may change daily as the situation evolves. Below are the coronavirus information pages for several major airlines: