For the first time in 30 years, we might have a summer with no Rick Steves tours. And while canceling our tours and refunding our tour members is the right thing to do, I'm saddened by the postponed dreams that come with those cancellations. As of now, we've canceled all of our tours through August 15.
As I mentioned before, one of those canceled tours was particularly disappointing to me: a bus filled with my daughter's future in-laws and my extended family. We were so looking forward to getting to know each other better, and so much more, on a 21-day Best of Europe tour guided by my son, Andy. But, just as my family has vowed to resurrect our travel dreams when travel opens up again, I know that the rest of our travelers have the same determination: This virus may postpone our plans, but it won't end our love of travel.
One of the great challenges for a tour guide is to take a group of strangers on day one and quickly turn them into a merry gang of travel buddies…a family that shares meals, laughs, and experiences, then flies home eager to plan their reunion (and even future trips together).
For decades as a guide, I delighted in the highlight of each tour: the festive "last supper," where we'd share memories, poems, songs, and gags. As the reality sunk in that our group was about to disband, and that what was for many the "trip of a lifetime" was almost over, it felt like we all wanted to wring the maximum joy out of every possible moment together.
Rick Steves tours are unique that way. It's a magic mix: an amazing continent rich with cultural thrills as our playground, passionate and talented guides to orchestrate the experience, and — just as fundamental to the success of our tours — the high caliber of the people who choose to trust us with their vacations. (Often times, these are people who begin their first message to us with, "I'm not a tour-taking kind of traveler, but…")
As we've had the sad work of canceling the tours of the first half of our season (and processing full refunds to over 10,000 people we were so eager to share our love of Europe with), my staff and I have been constantly inspired and grateful for the grace and thoughtfulness of the people we get to do business with. You can imagine how this is a difficult time for my staff (as it is for so many of you). But you might not realize how much they treasure the kind and heartwarming comments, notes, and messages they've received from so many of you as we all get through this crisis together.
Your support also shows how our company is built upon a foundation of a truly wonderful community of travelers. We are travel partners both in our love of exploring Europe and in life itself, and I hope you'll keep on dreaming, planning, and thinking of us when you envision your future European adventures.
We've designed this month's Tour News to make that a little more fun. You'll take a sunny, photo-filled trip through our Best of South Italy itinerary; read the latest updates from our tour guides in Europe; and escape to Greece's tranquil, traffic-free island of Hydra. You can also listen to a recent interview I did with The Daily, The New York Times' news podcast. The brilliant Sam Anderson, who wrote the New York Times Magazine profile of me last year, has a way of taking listeners into my head and then spinning the globe for an amazing ride — from cutting into an onion for the first time, to becoming a dog lover, to vividly reliving the best meal in 40 years of European gluttony…one hedonistic bite at a time.
I'm in this for the long haul — patient and confident that we'll see it through. Thanks to your support and goodwill, I know that we'll be able to travel together again.