The Joy of Working with G Adventures – Small IS Best!
A lot of people wonder how we managed to sail the Greek Islands. Because really we can’t afford a 50 foot sail boat. No really, we can’t. The bipeds are simple public servants for the Canadian Government. They aren’t exactly rolling in disposable income and there is no rich Uncle hiding somewhere in the family tree.
That means finding other ways to make dreams come true… and creative thinking is how I am now in a position to tell you about our amazing experience with G Adventures (Formerly known as Gap Adventures‚ they were required to change the name by the U.S. District court that deemed the brand was an infringement on GAP Inc. clothing… *sigh*… I will never understand humans).
Let me start by telling you that everything about this company is fun. It was really obvious from our interaction with them. Their open minded, inclusive attitude is the primary reason for their success as the largest small group adventure travel company in the world. The fact that they offer socially and environmentally sensitive travel is a bonus.
Bruce Poon Tip founded G Adventures in 1990 from his garage in Toronto (YES THEY ARE CANADIAN!) by maxing out two credit cards. He had a dream. He wanted to offer travellers authentic, local adventures in the “real world” as he put it; affordable, small sized tours in remote places. And he hit the jack pot! Turns out there is a huge demand for just that! And as of 2013, the company has over 1,500 employees worldwide and offers more than 1,000 adventure tours in over 100 countries on all 7 continents. More than 100,000 people travel on small group adventures with G Adventures every year. If there is somewhere you want to go, you can find it with G Adventures.
G Adventures has received many awards and staff turnover annually is 5%, the smallest in the travel industry (typically around 35%). The company culture is driven by five core values:
- Love Changing People’s Lives
- Lead with Service
- Embrace the Bizarre
- Create Happiness and Community
- Do the Right Thing
With those values it comes as absolutely NO surprise that we loved working with them while planning our trip. #3 also gave us hope they might be open to “with dog” travel. And Dear Reader, absolutely everything was smooth, polite and light hearted. Yet, there was enough of a serious undercurrent to everything to always make you feel you were being looked after.
Let’s start with reaching out to find out if they would allow me, a canine, on board their 50 foot sail boat in Greece.
It turns out; no one had ever asked the question: “Would you allow a small dog on board your Santorini to Santorini sailing trip? He has sailing experience…”
The lovely woman on the end of the phone told us right away that she had no idea. She promised to get back to us ASAP but would have to ask the “higher ups”. There was a special on for that trip so time was of the essence since the special was going to expire soon. She promised she would get back to us before the special ran out. We gave her our blog’s URL so she could show/prove that I was a well-traveled and trained dog, and our email address and we all (including her!) kind of just … held our breath.
We were beyond thrilled when she emailed to let us know it was a YES! No problem, I was welcome to join the tour. The bipeds were 100% responsible for my well-being and my paperwork, but other than that I was a part of the crew!
Now Dear Reader I do not know if it’s because I am a registered ESA (we did have to send them those papers) or because of my well-traveled past and obvious good manners‚ but in any case, it goes to show that what my friend Gigi always says is true: You never know unless you ask. So if it isn’t indicated, or even if it says no dogs. Call … and ask if they will make an exception. You never know what the answer will be.
From that point on, with a confirmation email for me in our hands (because the bipeds like everything in writing), we booked our trip!
But the funniest part was yet to come. Meeting Captain Toby Gibson.
You see it was his first trip with G Adventures (He has loads and loads of experience but was new to G Adventures) and he was certain that they were playing a joke on him (because he was a newbie) when they included a dog on the client/crew list. When we met him at the restaurant near the marina for our debrief and introductions; as indicated in the instructions provided by G Adventures, his reaction when I popped my head out of my carrier was “Oh wow‚ there really is a dog on this trip!” … and he just grinned and smiled and added: “Tiny fellow isn’t he?” … with an absolutely charming British accent. And that was it. That was as far as the “difficulties” went for traveling with G Adventures.
It went splendidly.
The Company was really smart, every time a new person booked to join our team, G Adventures sent a little email to them letting them know a canine was also going to be on board and ask if that would be a problem. No one had any (not sure what would have happened if someone said yes they had a problem…). As a result, I was not a surprise to anyone. Not to Marc and Jacob, the father and son duo from New York City. Not for Mathias from Germany or Mike from Australia. In fact, folks were rather keen to know my story and to know more about the blog, our travels and our goals. It was fantastic! I had so many places to go for cuddles.
I did my best to be a good boy. I didn’t bark. I stayed out of the way. I stayed close on our land treks. I surprised our co-travelers often by proving that a little dog can indeed keep up! There were a lot of grins all around as I would run ahead on hikes. And there was always an extra piece of chicken or some other little delightful morsel on offer: “Does Monte like pork?”… “Will he eat cheese?”… “Does Monte want to try the goat?”… Ah, good times. Good times.
So it is we want to thank G Adventures for allowing me to join the group; for being true to their values – especially #3.
Now for what we paid for (Taken from the website):
A yacht adventure is the ideal way to experience what many consider the world’s most beautiful islands, the Greek Islands. Sail aboard our 15m (50-ft.) yachts, with time for hiking, snorkelling and relaxing. Explore ancient archaeological sites and tavern-lined harbours, dine on fresh seafood and don’t forget to try the ouzo! This 10-day round trip from Santorini will give you the chance to explore some of the treasures of the Greek Islands.
- Sailing aboard a 15m (50-ft.) sailing yacht (9 nts). Fully licensed skipper. Snorkelling equipment.
- Basic items onboard will be covered by a food kitty of about EUR75 per person. (Allow EUR200-350 for meals not included.)
- 5 twin/double occupancy cabins, 3 shared bathrooms, 2 showers.
- 15m (50-ft.) sailing yacht.
- Chief Experience Officer (CEO) skipper throughout.
- Small group experience; Max 8.
I will not go into the islands we saw on our trip here, I want to go island by island with you Dear Reader. You can find a review for each island on the blog and I invite you to read them. Plus, as it is known to happen in the world of sailing – we didn’t exactly stick to the planned route. A terrible North wind caused many a change of plans and I have to say that Captain Toby was really good at presenting us with new options when that happened.
That leads me to taking a moment to thank Toby in particular for being a fantastic Captain and such a good sport about my being on board. Always ready with a smile, he made Dad really happy by teaching him loads of things about sailing the Mediterranean and sharing his vast knowledge and experience. He was charming, funny and knowledgeable as our guide on land trips. He had fun stories to share with us and he even prepared an amazing, delicious meal for us on a secluded beach, cooked on a bonfires hot coals enjoyed under the bright bright stars. I am pretty sure that’s not part of his responsibilities folks. But he used to be a chef and he certainly made us happy that night!
Captain Toby took care of all the paperwork so we didn’t have to and stayed with the boat when it was needed so we could gallivant on deserted islands. He knew where the best beaches were, where to go for a good meal or to rent a car. He knew how to please both the party animals in the group and us quieter… more early bird types. That’s a tough balancing act.
In short we had a wonderful time and we know that G Adventures and the kind of people they hire, like Captain Toby had a very BIG part to play in the relaxed atmosphere we enjoyed as thoroughly as we did discovering the Greek Islands of the Cyclades.
I want to say thank you to all of you at G adventures; for everything. We really hope to join forces again.