Chapter 66 — What Nordic Visitor and Dollar/Thrifty Car Rental Don’t Tell You

Harbor, Reykjavik

          If you booked a tour of Iceland through Nordic Visitor, you were deliriously happy with the results, according to the tour operator’s website, .   None of the thousands of tourists who have used Nordic Visitor reported experiencing even a minor glitch.  Could that be because

° (a) no tourist  ever had a problem?

° (b) the web image consultants are making sure no critical comment sullies the chorus of  praise for touring with Nordic Visitor?

° (c) customers who report problems are ignored, and therefore their problems don’t count?

More than one answer can be correct.

As for the rental car agency, Dollar/Thrifty Car Rental does not appear to have a website in English under that name, although a comment on one site reported good experience with booking independently and picking up the car at Keflavik Airport.

No word on dealing with the office in Reykjavik.

Donna went to Iceland in May with a group of four adults, no dogs.  That last part is why Greta wants no part of this blog.  It was never her idea to have her human go off somewhere and leave her to stay  in a kennel.  It’s hard to sleep in the kennel.  Someone is always barking.  And you  can’t keep squirrels and rabbits out of the back yard when you’re not there—when you have responsibilities, you shouldn’t  just take off and let things slide.

The plane landed at Keflavik International  Airport at 6:30 a.m. Iceland time.  One member of our party had booked a car independently for a side trip, so he was able to pick up the car at the airport.

Why couldn’t we pick up our Nordic Visitor-arranged car at the airport?  I asked  in a letter I sent the tour operator on June 7, 2013.  The letter was addressed to Dollar/Thrifty, cc to Nordic Visitor.  No response from either.

Nordic Visitor directs arriving tourists to wrestle their luggage onto a bus for a 50-minute ride to Reykjavik.  We were lucky not to have to do that, because we had the independently rented car.

 “If you arrive early enough, you can enjoy an array of optional activities in the area . . .Some options include whale-watching tours, horseback riding, Blue Lagoon and spa massages,” the itinerary states.

 No word on how you’re going to get to the array of optional activities.  That, apparently, is not Nordic Visitor’s problem. To reach the Blue Lagoon, for example, a taxi ride would be about 45-50 minutes from downtown Reykjavik.  Even if you just walk around Reykjavik for the day,  you’ll still be lugging your bags.  The manager at Hotel Fron, where Nordic Visitor booked us for the first night’s stay,  would not allow us to store our bags there until check-in time.

On your second morning in Iceland, Nordic Visitor’s itinerary advises that your car rental agent will meet you in the hotel lobby between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m.  We planned to go together to pick up the second car, then return to the hotel parking lot to divide passengers and luggage and leave Reykjavik for our tour.

No, said agent Johann E. of Dollar/Thrifty.  Only those who would be authorized to drive the rental car could ride in his van.  Very well, the other two members of the party would go to the parking lot behind the hotel for the car we had rented the day before,  pull around and follow Johann to the rental office.

Except that Johann, who initially promised to wait until we pulled around, announced that he would not wait and drove off.  That left the two who planned to follow on a strange street in a strange city without any idea where half the party had gone.  It also left the two who were trapped in Johann’s van without an alternative.

Did Johann care?  We cannot read his mind, but we can guess from whether he apologized for his action.  Put your money on “not.”

Iceland itself was otherworldly, a land where every turn of the road revealed moss-covered volcanic rock undulating for miles or a breathtaking lagoon filled with glacial ice calves or a waterfall cascade.   Lambs sneaked outside  fences to play, small horses and reindeer grazed, white geese more beautiful than their Canadian cousins perched on the rocks of the ancient Parliament site at Pingvellir.??????????

Go.  Enjoy.  Maybe skip Nordic Visitor’s car rental and book your own.

© 2013 by Donna Engle

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