Coronavirus FAQ for Rick Steves Tour Members
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 April 6, 2020.
All Rick Steves' Europe tours are cancelled through May 31, 2020. 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 email@example.com.
Are Rick Steves tours still operating?
We are canceling all of our tours with start dates through May 31, 2020. We will provide a 100% refund for each affected tour member, issued to the original payment method. We are processing the cancellations in order of departure date.
My tour is still operating — but should I cancel my booking?
The decision is ultimately yours. We are trying to cancel as few tours as possible, but we understand that every traveler needs to decide for themselves how comfortable they are with the risk. We will provide 100% refunds for tours that we cancel. When the situation improves and it's safe to travel, we still want to take you to Europe.
My June tour is still operating, but I've decided to cancel my booking or transfer to another tour. What should I do?
In the coming weeks, we will be making decisions about cancellations of tours in June. Please wait until we contact you with more information.
I'm booked for a tour later in the summer or fall, and I want to cancel or transfer. What should I do?
If you are booked on a tour starting July 1 or later, our standard cancellation and transfer policies still apply. If you cancel your tour reservation after the 30-day deposit refund period and before the final payment deadline, your deposit will be issued as a credit for a future booking, not a refund.
You've cancelled my tour. Can you transfer me to a new one?
Under normal circumstances, we could work with you to transfer your booking directly to a new tour, but our staff are currently coping with an enormous volume of inquiries and changes. Therefore, when we cancel tours due to coronavirus, we won't be offering transfers at the time of cancellation. Instead, we will automatically provide a full refund and we encourage you to see our available tours to make a new booking.
I have a credit for a 2021 tour. When will you release 2021 tour dates?
Most likely in late May/early June.
We are currently in the process of cancelling hundreds of tours and refunding thousands of travelers. Admittedly, that volume has been putting a strain on our resources, but if your tour has been cancelled, we are working hard to ensure that you receive a timely refund. We have doubled our tour sales staff and are working as fast as possible to process your refund.
When does the refund process start?
We start the refund process once we cancel a tour departure and process refunds in order of tour departure date. That means the people on a tour departing closest to today's date get processed first.
How will I receive my refund?
If possible, your refund will be issued against your original form of payment — credit card, ACH, or check. 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?
Our general practice is to get your refund to you within 2 weeks from the date we announce the tour has been cancelled. However, given the current situation in the USA, we have been seeing delays occurring with banks, credit card companies and mail delivery. Please also note that if you used multiple methods of payment, the different financial institutions might have different processing times.
If you haven't received your refund 3 weeks after being notified that your tour was cancelled, please let us know, and we will follow up.
Why can't I just transfer to a new tour and avoid the refund?
Given the enormous volume of inquiries due to COVID-19, it's impossible for us to offer transfers at the time of cancellation while dealing with other questions in a timely way. Instead, we felt it was better for all travelers if we automatically provided everyone with a full refund (if their tour was cancelled) and encourage them to look at our available tours to make a new booking.
Can I just tell my credit card company to cancel the charge?
You can, but it is unlikely to be successful as 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 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?
Unfortunately, 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 until 2021 — meaning it can be applied to any tour departing in 2020 or 2021.
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. If the closures become so significant that we don't think we can give you the tour experience we promised, we'll cancel your tour before it departs and give you the option of transferring to another tour or getting a refund. Otherwise, if we need to make minor adjustments to your itinerary, we'll work with your tour group and guide to manage the situation safely, smartly, and fairly.
What if the CDC changes its travel advisories in the middle of my tour?
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.
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.
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: