In 2020, I had a busy year of travels planned. I was most excited about going on a Best of Europe in 21 Days tour, with my entire extended family along for the ride. Ever since I had to scrap those plans last March, I've been aching to get back to touring in Europe again.
Apparently, I'm not the only one. A couple of weeks ago, we began taking deposits for our 2022 tours — and the response has been huge. Within a few days, we sold more than 20,000 seats (about 70 percent of our capacity). Our team — who've been on standby since last March — sprang into action to process orders and get as many travelers as possible on the tours of their choice. Now that things are sorted out, we've still got lots of seats available. Of the 1,100 departures on deck for 2022, we still have seats open on about 350 of them.
If you're dreaming of returning to Europe, now's the time to check out our lineup of 2022 tours. While many of our itineraries are sold out, it's easy to find tours that still have seats by selecting the "Seats Available" option on our website. (And if the tour of your dreams is currently sold out, remember that the waitlist can be your best friend.)
Our office staff and our colleagues in Europe — guides, bus drivers, hoteliers, restauranteurs, and so on — are all excited to get back to work. We're energized to return to our mission: helping Americans enjoy smart, smooth, experiential, and affordable European trips. Most of all, we're humbled by and deeply grateful for the support of our tour members. Now more than ever, we're determined to honor your trust by providing the best (and safest) possible travels.
We also recognize that these are uncertain times, so we've made our cancellation policy more flexible: Deposits on 2022 tours made now are 100 percent refundable, for any reason, until the end of 2021. This lets you sign up with no risk in case you change your mind. (It also means that those on the waitlist may get some good news later, when other travelers do just that.)
We realize that many are eager to travel in 2021 (including all of us here at Rick Steves' Europe). Increasingly, it looks like independent travel to Europe may be just fine in the coming months. But as a tour operator, we're very conservative with our planning and will run tours only if we're confident we can do so safely, efficiently, and in the experiential way that's so integral to the Rick Steves style of touring. If things continue to go well on both sides of the Atlantic, it's possible we'll open some tours this November and December. And if we do, anyone signed up on any 2022 tour can switch their deposit over to a 2021 tour. (If you're on the waitlist for 2022, you'll automatically be notified if 2021 tours open up.)
If you're still dreaming about a trip to Europe, check out this month's Tour News, where we're covering Europe from top to bottom with a colorful slideshow featuring our Best of Europe in 14 Days tour, a sneak peek at my new one-hour public television special "Best of the Alps," an interview with a seasoned guide who's been leading Rick Steves tours since 1992, and fun facts about Sweden and Norway from our Guides' Marketplace.
Thank you once again for your support through the pandemic, for the vote of confidence you've given us by signing up for 2022 tours with such gusto, and for your patience as we continue to navigate these uncharted waters of re-starting our tour program after such a long hiatus. Europe awaits with a warm and enthusiastic welcome, and — when the time is right — we'll be there to receive it. I'm confident that, sooner or later, I'll be able to bring my family on that Best of Europe tour after all.