About Collette Tours

By Autumn Yates
HighYa Staff Published on: Apr 13, 2015

Founded by Jack Collette in 1918, Collette Tours is a family owned business that provides guided travel experiences across all seven continents, including land tours, river cruises, rail journeys, small group tours, family trips, garden holidays and more. In other words, Collette claims to handle all the details, such as airlines, accommodations, transportation, meals, sightseeing and more, and all you have to do is enjoy the experience.

When choosing Collette Tours, the company offers 4 different types of touring experiences:

  • Explorations – With small groups of 12-24 passengers, these tours are intended to help you “capture the spirit of the destination” while enjoying local cuisine and even exploring on your own.
  • Family Travel – Tours specifically focused on providing your whole family with enjoyment, including some of the top local experiences, must-see sites, cultural activities, and family-oriented hotels.
  • Royal Horticultural Society – Claimed to help “garden enthusiasts and their fellow travelers gain privileged insider access to the world’s finest gardens,” while also exploring other must-see sites. With this option, you’ll also receive a 1-year gift membership to the Royal Horticultural Society.
  • Spotlights – Shorter trips claimed to provide a blend of in-depth exploration and leisure time so that you’ll have the ability to connect with a destination’s daily life.

How to Choose Your Collette Tour

In order to begin your Collette tour, you’ll first need to select the region and country you’re interested in visiting through the home page, as well as your travel dates. You can also click the Find Your Tour link at the top of the company’s website, and then narrow your choices based on important factors such as group size, if the package focuses on museums, wine, national parks, etc., and more.

After you press the Search button, all results matching your criteria will be listed, including the name of the tour, a brief description, dates, the number of meals included, and starting prices. From here, you can find out more by clicking on the Tour Details or Request a Quote buttons.

Then, once you’ve found your perfect Collette Tour, you’ll have to provide your information to secure your spot, but then have your local travel agent assist you in making final reservations.

Sure, based on all the advantages that Collette Tours might provide during your traveling experience, it might seem like a no-brainer. But before you book your reservation, consider the following:

What is Guided Touring?

According to the Collette Tours website, the company acts as a tour guide and concierge throughout your trip, including “sightseeing, entertainment, admissions to museums and other venues, and hotels.”

In other words, Collette’s tour guide remain with you throughout your trip in order to make you more comfortable in your new surroundings, show you the sites, and to take care of any problems should they arise.

Who Might Benefit Most From Collette’s Guided Touring?

Although guided touring can provide many of the benefits mentioned above, it’s often best utilized for individuals traveling alone, for large groups or families, or simply for those that want a turnkey traveling experience. Also, guided touring can be ideal when visiting “off the map” locations such as Antarctica, where chartering planes and boats individually could present a huge hassle.

On the other hand, guided tours mean that you’ll be grouped with other people (sometimes a lot of other people), which might make the experience a little unwieldy, especially if you’re travelling with a group with different goals than yours. Also (as we’ll talk about in a moment), many of the guided tours might simply consist of driving past different landmarks in a bus going 30mph, which might not provide you with the personal experience you were expecting.

What Collette Tour’s Customers Are Saying

Collette Travel Services based out of Pawtucket, RI had an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau, with 11 closed complaints (as of 4/9/15). Most of this appeared to reference difficulty obtaining refunds, although the company seems to have settled all complaints in an amicable manner.

Collette Tours also had a 2-star Yelp rating, with the most common complaints stating that travelers received budget-style accommodations and meals at luxury prices.

Numerous Collette customers also provided their feedback on this Fodors.com thread, most of which appeared to have been pleased with their experiences. As with Yelp reviews though, most of the negative comments seemed to revolve around low-quality hotels and dining.

There were also numerous customer reviews for Collette across several TripAdvisor forum threads. And while most travelers seem to have been pleased with their experience, the most common complaints were of panoramic (e.g. bus only) tours and of lower-than-expected accommodation quality.

Finally, 83 Collette customers provided feedback on Epinions, and rated the travel company an average of 3 stars. Common compliments included good tour guides, high-quality food and accommodations, and a pleasurable experience for the money. On the other hand, the most common complaints cited mis-scheduled flights and road transportation, and disorganized tours.

Collette Tours Pricing

What you’ll pay for your Collette Tour depends largely on your destination and the things you’d like to do while there, and can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars per person.

However, according to Collette, their planning services come with “volume buying power,” which means you can save up to 40 percent versus planning the same trip on your own. Also, if you’re planning to choose a Family Travel tour, Collette provides substantially discounted rates to children 14 and under.

Important note: Airfare to your destination is not covered under Collette’s package prices. In other words, their listed prices only include travel and accommodations once you’ve arrived at your final destination.

In order to speak with a Collette Tours representative to get a better idea of costs, you can contact one of their Travel Experts at 800-340-5158.

Should You Choose Collette Tours For Your Next Travel Adventure?

Chopping to the Point: If you’re traveling to a foreign country on your own, don’t enjoy researching travel plans, or just want a hand-off traveling experience, Collette Tours is a company that has been in business nearly 100 years, and the vast majority of their customers seem to have been pleased with their experiences. As such, it might be the case that you will too.

However, it appears that the most common complaints seem to revolve around poor quality lodging and food, although this seems to be heavily dependent on location.

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16 Consumer Reviews for Collette Tours

Average Consumer Rating: 2.2
Rating Snapshot:
5 star: 4 4 star: 0 3 star: 1 2 star: 1 1 star:  10
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  • South Africa trip

    I had the opportunity to go on a tour of South Africa with friends planned by Collette Tours. I found that during the planning process that there were a few mishaps with Collette, including not being able to identify the group when I called Collette to answer a question, canceling not once but twice, an informative session with the group and failure of Collette to follow-up with concerns that came up with the trip on our return.

    Things Collette did well: picking wonderful hotels for us to stay in, sending a beautiful package prior to our leaving and before leaving a willingness to correct problems (I haven't seen this on our return). I would like to see Collette improve on activities and places we visited while in South Africa. Our tour was 14 days and we visited a winery for 3 days, a riverfront hotel for 3 days and though they were beautiful places, we really did not have an opportunity to visit surrounding areas as the hotels were off the beaten path and we didn't have evening transportation, missing museums, art galleries, nightlife, etc., for us to get a taste of the different cities of South Africa.

    In 14 days, we had a one-day safari, visited a diamond "factory" that was actually a diamond store in downtown Cape Town where we were greeted with champagne and cappuccino, with the goal for us to spend money. I actually was encouraged and previewed diamond earrings on sale for $13500, a diamond bracelet for $100000! We visited an aloe "factory" to buy aloe products and with the exception of going to the Apartheid museum, the ostrich farm and paying to have dinner with a local family, we never visited something that was for the purpose of seeing what made South Africa special.

    We spent many hours on the bus and given the opportunity to see many Dutch buildings and churches in most of the cities we visited, the beautiful coastline of South Africa and the winery. All nice, but not what I think about when I think of South Africa. If we had visited these places for a few hours and not spent days, I believe my trip would have been more enjoyable. On return, I have compared my trip with other South African tours online and I feel cheated.

    I suggest before booking this tour that you compare. I can't blame anyone but myself for not checking out Collette and their idea of what should be seen on a visit to South Africa!

    Happy travels.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 10 out 11 people found this review helpful

    Lost $2700

    We had booked a trip to Costa Rica in March but had to cancel due to a no flying order after emergency eye surgery. I had declined trip insurance due to the high cost (over $800). We lost $1100 due to the 30% penalty on the land portion. The airfare was nonrefundable.

    I called American Airlines looking for a future travel credit. AA said that Collette had not paid them and there was no value on the tickets. This means Collette gets to keep all $1660 for airfare portion! This is theft by any other name.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Feb 13, 2018

      Collette Customer Service,

      Dear Mr. Boyne,

      Thank you for your comments.

      Collette offers an industry-leading, worry-free travel protection plan which provides a full refund, less the travel protection plan, unlike many plans that only offer a voucher for future travel. You can cancel for any reason right up to the day prior to departure. Unfortunately, the plan was not purchased. At the time of your cancellation, you were under cancellation penalties. For this very reason, we urge our guests to make the investment in the plan.

      Again, thank you for your feedback.

    • Feb 20, 2018

      Elaine Cohen

      So sorry to hear of your troubles. If it makes you feel any better, I had full insurance on their Magical Northern Lights Tour and became severely ill. I was given no medical help and on top of that, most of the other people on that tour got sick. I paid almost 400.00 for 5 days of insurance. I have had a lot of help from Air Passenger Rights Canada and the media wants to take my story. We will go to court in a couple of months!

    • Apr 22, 2018

      Joanne Luterman

      I am on a Collette Iceland Tour now, and the first hotel that was booked was a nice hotel, and Collette put us in a disgusting tiny room overlooking a pipe. The hotel said it was its economy room! Shame on you. The rest of this trip has to be better than this, or else you will hear from me loudly!

    • Apr 23, 2018

      Elaine Cohen

      Oh, Joanne, I am so sorry. Hotel Katla was worse. I will be in court Wednesday after what they did to me. I hope you have a better experience from here on in.

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  • 14 out 14 people found this review helpful

    Trip Mate Insurance

    Collette uses Trip Mate travel insurance, which may or may not be a subsidiary of Collette. Collecting $700.00 up front months in advance (6 months plus) and refusing to refund when the trip is canceled 6 plus months ahead of time is dishonest, theft and criminal. When you steal from senior citizens 75+ years of age, the world needs to stop doing business with this dishonest business. All Christian organizations need to boycott these people.

    I expect this review, which is totally true and honest, will be deleted from public view. If this happens, their public relation problems will be just beginning and not ruling out Class Action filings at the Federal Level.

    Shame on these dishonest crooks.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Jan 19, 2018

      Collette Customer Service, Social Media Manager

      Hello Ronald,

      We appreciate you bringing this to our attention. When you canceled your tour on November 14, 2017, you were advised in writing from our customer care team that you would receive a full refund, less than the amount you paid for the passenger protection plan (insurance).

      Unfortunately, the insurance is non-refundable. We apologize for the inconvenience but would be happy to talk to you more if you have additional questions.

    • Jan 19, 2018

      Ronald Black

      A doctor's statement was attached to our cancellation request. A total of $700.00 insurance deposit about 5-6 months prior to the trip is dishonest and unheard, plus the insurance goes into effect when the trip begins. No other company and or affiliated insurance company refuses to return money received on a policy that hasn't gone into effect.

      Read the reviews of your customers that were denied medical assistance during a trip by your own personnel. It's a disgrace to a company like yours to continue business. I will now be forwarding my review, plus the other reviews to all major media networks and media outlets, HOA's and Christian organizations.

      You're no better than the crooks, murders, child molesters and terrorist we have in prisons.

    • Jan 24, 2018

      Collette Customer Service, Social Media Manager

      Dear Mr. Black,

      Thank you for your feedback.

      We are disheartened by your view of the Travel Protection Plan and the insurance company. A priority of Collette is to be transparent and open with our product and procedures. We state the following in all of our literature concerning the Passenger Protection Plan:

      “Payment of a per person Travel Protection Plan fee guarantees a full refund of all payments, except the Travel Protection Plan fee itself, made to Collette for travel arrangements in case of cancellation of your travel plans for any reason prior to the day of departure.”

      Again, thank you for your comments and we hope this helps clarify the Passenger Protection Plan fee.

    • Feb 20, 2018

      Elaine Cohen

      Dear Mr. Black, I am sorry for your troubles. If it makes you feel any better, I paid almost 400.00 for 5 days of insurance. When I became severely ill on one of their guided tours of Iceland, I was given no help and no medical care, even after crying and telling the tour manager I could not go on. I was told that I could go grab a cab to the hospital when we get to the city center. I got nothing from Collette and I am now taking them to court!

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  • 19 out 20 people found this review helpful

    A trip to hell

    • Nova Scotia, Canada,
    • Jan 16, 2018
    • Verified Reviewer

    I booked a trip to Iceland to see the Northern Lights dance before I died. It was Collette's tour called ICELAND'S MAGICAL NORTHERN LIGHTS TOUR (October 14, 2017). I had gone through a few bad years and needed to find some peace in my heart, so I maxed out my Visa and sold a lot of personal possessions to do this.

    On the second day I was sick with a lung infection. I told the tour manager and he blew it off. The next day he asked people not to wear scents. I was extremely ill, and on the 4th day went to get on the bus and the strong smell of disinfectant and perfume made me so ill I left the bus bawling my eyes out and telling the tour manager that I needed help, I was sick and just could not do this anymore. His solution was to put me on another bus when I could barely hold my head up. I had a fever and chills and was non stop coughing. He told me before I got on the other bus that I could grab a taxi if I wanted, from the Blue Lagoon (when we got there) to the hospital in Reykjavik. I did not have the $200 cash the cab would have cost, and I was scared going by myself, so I did not go. Because of this tour managers neglect, I lost my whole trip.

    This tour manager also neglected to make alternate arrangements to see the Northern Lights, and because of his neglect we missed seeing the lights dance, the only night they were visible.

    I had purchased almost $400.00 worth of insurance. I called the insurance company when I came home and asked if there could have been a reason Collette did not get me help. I thought that maybe it was because we were a fair distance for medical help. The insurance company told me I was insured for $100,000.00 medical and that even if I had to take an ambulance that cost five thousand dollars, it would have been covered. His negligence also cost most of the other 40 people on that bus to get sick.

    Besides that, they boast 4-star hotels and food. Well at the Katla Hotel, I had to clean both pubic hair and hair off the bathroom floor, and my bed sheets were dirty and I found a hair and dirt inside the bed. The food we were served for two days were leftovers and disgusting. I tried to work this out with the General Manager at Collette and the way he skirted around what happened was disheartening. He did not care at all; it was all about the money.

    Well, now I am taking them to Small Claims where I hope to recoup some of my losses, but I have been left traumatized by the whole experience. Do not use this company; your life is at stake.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Feb 13, 2018

      Brett Walker

      As Ms. Cohen has stated, “I am taking them [Collette] to Small Claims”. In fact, Collette is named as a co-defendant on the Notice of Claim (NOC) as submitted by Ms. Cohen. As the matter is now before the court, it is not appropriate at this time for Collette, or any party named on the NOC, including the claimant, to comment further. Suffice to say, both co-defendants have tried on numerous occasions to mediate Ms. Cohen's claims but to no available. She has elected to pursue her claims in court, as is her prerogative. Likewise, it is Collette's prerogative to resolve this matter in the appropriate forum. Collette firmly denies her statement of claims and will be resolute in our defense.

    • Feb 20, 2018

      Elaine Cohen

      Mr. Walker, I believe what is not appropriate is how Collette treats their customers. Your defense to me was that you owe me nothing. Collette had a duty of care towards me and I got none, just the opposite. With the help of Air Passenger Rights and the media, I look forward to hearing your defense in court.

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  • 23 out 23 people found this review helpful

    "The trip of a life-time awaits! Highlights of Morocco." Maybe it should have waited indefinitely!

    • New York,
    • Nov 27, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    We recently concluded a tour with Collette seeing their highlights of Morocco. The itinerary that appeared on paper seemed to be great. The food described sounded incredible and places used for accommodations as well seemed terrific.

    DISAPPOINTMENT.

    First and foremost, I'm a practicing physician. I know how to avoid situations where hygiene and safety pose potential problems. I deal daily with children experiencing diarrhea and vomiting, as well as other infectious childhood illnesses.

    This trip made it impossible unless you brought your own food in sealed packages to prevent acute gastroenteritis disease. The restaurants chosen (one exception) and the hotels/riad (one exception) were breeding grounds for disease.

    We were a group of 24 guests, and 20-21 were acutely ill with acute GI symptoms. This was in no small part due to lack of hygiene at the establishments we ate in, including where we had our breakfasts daily. The 3 worse offenders were at the 2 Xaluca Hotels we were using and their buffets for dinner.

    However, in my opinion, by far the biggest offender was at the Opera Plaza Resort in Marrakech. I was wittiness to the person preparing our omelets doing so without any gloves while also handling raw eggs. This same person, having the same raw egg on the hand, while then picking up just cooked crepes to then give to a guest. The raw egg then dripped onto the prepared crepes as well. It was then given to this unsuspecting hotel guest. As I then walked past this station, another person was at the buffet area touching almost every roll on the table with his bare fingers checking to see if they were soft (no gloves).

    No wonder we all had illnesses, if this were in any other country, I believe the health department would have shut them down.

    What we paid for was purported to be a "trip of a lifetime," it was as far from that as possible. No one expects to get sick when away on vacation, precautions are definitely made by oneself to prevent such occurrences, but in the case of this tour, whoever or whomever is responsible for quality control of the establishments chosen for their guests to use, is at fault. They missed the mark.

    My wife and I are definitely world travelers, we have been to 6 of the 7 continents, used everything from very basic tour companies to truly 5-star super luxury. Never have we been so disappointed, nor experienced so many persons ill while on tours. I can absolutely pinpoint by the onset of symptoms when and where these illnesses began.

    It is the responsibility of Collette to ensure that this doesn't happen ever again. Until I can be guaranteed this, Collette is not an option for us for travel, and I would advise others to do their homework before they plan this vacation.

    Morocco should have been as described, "a trip of a lifetime,"until fixed, AVOID Collette as the vehicle to get you there.

    P.S. Kudos to Rick's Cafe in Casablanca for a fine welcoming dinner and the Riad Yacout in Fez; exceptional food, cleanliness and accommodations fit for royalty. You were the only true shining stars on this trip.

    Also disappointed that Collette does not offer a forum on their website to post a current review by a guest who has used their company. Shame on them.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 19 out 20 people found this review helpful

    Worst trip I ever paid for

    From beginning to the end, it was not organized. I was forced to stand in line every place we went, waiting to be fed, but the guide didn't make reservations. The guide lost people, forcing us to stand in the hot sun for hours. We went to a Broadway show where my wife and I were forced to sit on opposite sides of the room. When I complained to the main offices, I was told 70% of the people were ok with the trip and that was fine with them. Sorry, a refund of two meals will not do it.

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 20 out 22 people found this review helpful

    Do you want to travel with a company that does not have a policy of client dissatisfaction?

    My husband and I are seasoned travelers. We decided to do a bus tour for the first time. Unfortunately, Tauck (friends gave me glowing recommendations) was totally booked for the America's Music Tour, so we ended up with Collette.

    The guides/bus driver were wonderful. The hotel in Nashville was awful! The rooms were not properly cleaned, especially the bathroom. We came in late and were exhausted. Housekeeping came and cleaned a bit and they offered to come in the following morning to steam clean and sterilize the bathroom while we were out.

    Probably as a result of the aggressive attempt to clean the facilities, the toilet was broken. They made 4 different attempts to repair it over a 4-day period. Finally, they called in a master plumber the night before we checked out. The hotel was unable to change our room.

    Collette was aware of the issue while we were in Nashville. I contacted them upon our return and spoke to a supervisor named Ryan. He offered to send me a letter of apology. I said, "not acceptable."

    Next I was told they would give us $150 towards our next trip with them, but it had to be within the one year period. Really? That is what they offer all their customers who have traveled on one of their tours if they sign up again.

    Finally, they send us their customer satisfaction policy. Apparently, they don't care if you are dissatisfied. Isn't that nice! So why travel and spend your hard earned dollars with Collette?

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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    • Feb 13, 2018

      Brett Walker

      As Ms. Cohen has stated, “I am taking them [Collette] to Small Claims”. In fact, Collette is named as a co-defendant on the Notice of Claim (NOC) as submitted by Ms. Cohen. As the matter is now before the court, it is not appropriate at this time for Collette, or any party named on the NOC, including the claimant, to comment further. Suffice to say, both co-defendants have tried on numerous occasions to mediate Ms. Cohen's claims but to no available. She has elected to pursue her claims in court, as is her prerogative. Likewise, it is Collette's prerogative to resolve this matter in the appropriate forum. Collette firmly denies her statement of claims and will be resolute in our defense.

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  • 18 out 18 people found this review helpful

    Disappointing

    • Gwinn, MI,
    • Oct 9, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    I have booked tours with Collette eight times. We booked America's music city into New Orleans on the 8th of October. Hurricane Nate affected this tour. Collette refuses to cancel when my airlines has already done so due to safety. We have travel insurance that Collette will not refund the cost even though this is a natural disaster. Is money more important than safety? This is the last time I book with them or encourage anyone to use their service.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 6 out 6 people found this review helpful

    Music Tour

    • Music tour - New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville,
    • Jun 15, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    My husband Joe and I went on a music tour of New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville. It was an amazing trip, and we would highly recommend it to our friends and family. Our tour guide, Clinton Scott, was first class. He was so knowledgeable about every area we were traveling too, as well as being very entertaining; he looked after us all so well. Our driver Alvin drove us to every destination safely, he was a true gentleman. The tour covered all the best places to see in each location, as well as some free time to explore on our own. Our hotels were very good, and the food was excellent.

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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  • 26 out 34 people found this review helpful

    Beware of flights and days lost on trip

    • Jersey City, NJ,
    • Feb 18, 2017
    • Verified Reviewer

    Collette Tours is only interested in your money.

    I am flying from New York to Sydney, Australia. My sister requested a window seat, and I requested an aisle seat. We were advised that we were in a center seat for over 19 hours. I spoke to Delta Airlines, but the seats could not be changed. Delta advised that they had seats in the Delta Comfort section but it would cost more money, and the agency would need to request the change. I was advised to make the change as soon as possible.

    Collette Tours was called and given the information. I had my credit card ready to pay for the seats, but the agent advised she could not guarantee the seats. I told the agent to call Delta because the seats were available. The agent took five days to contact the airlines, and the seats were taken by then. I paid over $8,000 for my trip and was willing to pay additional money for the seats.

    In addition, we were told that we would leave out of the airport in New Jersey, but we have to travel to New York. The tours begin in Cairns, Australia and we are flying into Sydney with a 5-hour layover. We should have flown directly into Cairns. We are wasting an entire day flying into Sydney, or the tour should have started in Sydney.

    BEWARE of this agency!

    Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this to a friend

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  • 11 out 12 people found this review helpful

    Italian Vista

    We booked an Italian Vista tour through Marriott Vacation Club. The tour was for May 24 - June 4, 2016. Since we were on a seven-day cruise, we didn't join the tour until the second morning, in Rome. All we really missed was the evening get-acquainted dinner the night before. Our cruise arrived at 6:00 AM. A car was waiting that took us right to the hotel. When we arrived they had our room keys ready, and we checked in and had time for breakfast. We were able to join the morning tour of Rome. I was in touch with the tour leader, Jose, by email and cell phone prior to joining the group. The tour itself was a great experience, and we will definitely use Collette again. They stay in nice hotels right near the places you want to be. The meals are very good, and the coach is comfortable. Jose, our guide was fabulous, and constantly provided helpful tips where ever we stopped. I became ill with bronchitis and Jose helped me get the medicine I needed. I celebrated a birthday during the tour, and he also provided a special birthday torte in recognition of my birthday. My wife and I stayed in Italy for another week after the tour, and Jose provided us with helpful information regarding train travel and sight-seeing. It was the best vacation of our lives (and we have had many).

    Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this to a friend

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