Hamburg * Berlin * Hannover * Bremen * Dresden * München
Safety in General
No means of transportation can claim to be as safe as a bus. And statistics support this claim and clearly illustrate that the incidence of bus accidents is far lower than other forms of modern transportation.
The coach has established itself as a safe mode of transportation because of such technological innovations as the engine-brake system, the anti-skip system, and cruise control. Thanks to these developments, the reliability of the coach increases substantially.
Another reason to travel by coach is the fact that single people, and women in particular, simply feel safer on a bus. This is especially true when going abroad. Being in a group gives you an additional sense of security.
One of the most important aspects to be taken into account when traveling with people is safety. We pay attention to this not only by regularly modernizing our coaches, but also by having the coaches checked for the efficiency of their brake systems every three months. This is done in addition to the standard annual overhaul, during which each brake is completely taken apart, cleaned, worn parts replaced, and then finally reassembled. All the repair work is carried out by qualified mechanics, mainly in the coach manufacturer's own repair shops. In addition, all of our drivers are experienced and technically qualified to see to most mechanical problems.
Each coach has a regular driver who is an employee of Alternativ Bus Reisen. All our drivers have accumulated a great deal of experience and are completely professional and safety conscious. In the spring of 1988, one was actually designated the top German Kaessbohrer-Setra driver during the Autobus Meeting International (AMI'88) in Porec, Yugoslavia.
We also have regular back-up drivers, and a number of our tour escorts are licensed to drive our buses, as well. If we rent coaches from other companies, we make sure that at least one of the drivers is a member of our staff. Our drivers are trained mechanics, but they are also engineers, teachers, and sociologists. They are fully determined to care for your safety and comfort. They are parking space magicians, disc jockeys, comforters, and mechanics all rolled into one. Together with the tour coordinators, they try to find a common solution for a hundred diverse requests. Their solutions border on true genius!
Once, a few years ago, a passenger of ours broke a leg in the middle
of the Moroccan Desert and had to be flown to Germany for an operation.
That set him back several thousand dollars. In order to avoid similar costs,
we strongly recommend travel insurance. You can obtain relevant information
at our office.
Futon-type sleeping area
Our newest acquisition (our coach named "Tropical") is more than simply a means of transportation, it is a rolling communications center built around the sleeping area that stretches from the middle of the bus all the way to the back.
And, with only 35 seats up front, you get a lot more leg room than in one of those conventional coaches. The seats are also reclining and arranged diagonally so you can easily talk with the others around you.
Our coaches come with the latest and best sound system on the market -- a Blaupunkt stereo with tuner, cassette recorder, and microphone. Moreover, we enjoy catering to different musical tastes and are more than willing to play our passengers' own tapes, too. But please make sure they are good quality! Not only will your fellow passengers enjoy the sound more, they will also rest easier knowing that your old cassettes won't cause our system to fail out in the middle of the North Cape of Sweden far from the madding crowds and electronic repair centers.
The ventilation systems in our buses are arranged so that fresh air is pumped in through the rear of the bus and the stale air is ventilated out the front. The result is a constant circulation of fresh air, adding greatly to your personal comfort. In addition to the ventilation system and in place of an air-conditioning system, the "Tropical" has sliding windows.
Why?? Well, have you ever experienced leaving an air-conditioned bus in the hottest part of a tropical summer? The temperature extremes can be quite shocking, and we would prefer allowing your system to get acclimated to the natural temperatures through open windows.
Smokers and non-smokers
We have both smoking and non-smoking sections in our coaches. All the smokers sit up front, all the non-smokers sit in rear, and our ventilation system circulates the fresh air from back to front. If we use more than one coach in a tour, then we try to make one a non-smoking bus.
So, please, make sure to take a seat at the beginning according to your smoking habits. If it is important to you, then by all means state your preference when you book. In any case, we always request our passengers to keep their smoking to an absolute minimum while on the bus for the comfort of others.
Roof racks and surfboards
Our coaches are fitted with roof racks for transporting your surfboards or other gear appropriate to the particular tour. But as we sometimes need to rent a coach, we ask that you check with us a few days in advance to see whether this will be possible. We would like to stress that we do not insure these items and cannot be held responsible for damages even if attributable to us. We recommend that you obtain your own luggage insurance. If you would like, we can let you know where to find such insurance.
Drinks on board
All of our coaches are equipped with a refrigerator and prior to departure
we fill this up with beer, sodapop, and mineral water. You can help yourselves
free of charge until the refrigerator is empty. Then it is up to you to
purchase your own liquid refreshments for storage in the icebox.
Here also, we leave the beaten path and head off in an Alternativ direction. As you may have noticed, our travelog is completely different from your usual travel brochure. Where else can you contribute your own personal vacation reports to a travel catalog? Our tour descriptions give you a wonderful idea of the fun and excitement found on our tours. They also provide you with extensive background material on the history and culture of the countries we visit. It is for reasons like these that our German "Reisezeitung" was awarded the "Best Travel Brochure of 1988" for bus-tour operators.
This travelog is designed to provide you with general information, to relate actual tour experiences, and to offer useful tips. We find that the best entries are the reports written by the participants themselves. They provide the most honest impressions, the clearest descriptions, and some of the real flavor of the experience.
In fact, we'd love to get your report of your ABeR vacation! Send it to us and receive an ABeR travel voucher valued at seventy-five US Dollars!
Your opinion matters!
As our type of travel is shaped very much by the requirements of the participants we have tried to find a way to get as much feedback as possible from the groups so that we can investigate criticisms and suggestions for improvement for the following year. As in the past we will issue questionnaires at the end of the tour so that you have the opportunity to express your thoughts on the trip. Questions on our advertising material and on this travelog are also included.
Important! Under no circumstances do we store personal data in this matter. The questionnaire will be confidential. Nevertheless we appreciate having the opportunity to discuss criticism with each person individually.
At our annual party in Hamburg, we sponsor a photo-contest where we award a prize for the best ABeR vacation pictures. Just send in your favorite snapshots.
So, get your camera ready -- and, if you are lucky, you may find one of your pictures in our next travelog. We also offer great prizes, including exciting tours.
Types of Trips
We like to do much more than simply gawk at the main tourist attractions -- we like to "live" the great cities as insiders. We walk the main avenues as well as the romantic little side-streets and sections unknown to other tourists. ABeR gives you the narrow passageways of Paris and the hidden courtyards of Vienna.
The most important goal of our cross-country tours is to avoid any kind of group obligation. Each tour is planned around three- and four-day stops from where you can go on a variety of excursions. These excursions are always optional and you can choose, instead, to stay and discover the city or area by yourself. This gives the best possible opportunity to get to know a country, its people, and its customs.
ABC Vacations - Apartments, Bungalows and Campgrounds
For those of you who like to stay at one place and get to know it intimately, we offer what we call our bungalow, apartment and campground vacations. And, of course, our buses are always at the ready to take you to outlying regions or points of special interest. In order to broaden your knowledge of an area, we will also organize hikes, boat excursions, and much, much more!
Cross-Country Tours Including Round-trip Air Fare
When we go to other continents, as we do on our Asian, South American, and Australian adventures, we include round-trip air fare. Once there, we explore the continent by bus -- believe it or not, usually by an ABeR bus!
Bike and Boat Trips
Alternativ Bus Reisen is also now offering bike and boat tours. These tours combine the best aspects of recreational exercise and of getting to know a foreign land. We are so convinced you'll enjoy these trips that we intend on expanding our program in coming years to include, among others, hang-gliding and parachuting.
Our ski trips are aimed both at the dyed-in-the-wool "ski bum" and at
complete beginners. That's why our ski instructors offer beginners classes
as well as advanced technique lessons.
Except where mentioned in the individual tours, we make every effort to book clean and central hotels characteristic of the localities. We always try to surpass your expectations and have your comfort as our priority. In general, we book rooms with several beds but, if you prefer single or double rooms, we can usually arrange them at an additional cost. Please indicate your choice when booking.
Apartments and Bungalows
Those who love having a roof over their heads will be able to enjoy accommodations in apartments and bungalows. We chose comfortable, cozy residences instead of the concrete monstrosities that are commonplace in many tourist areas. We also made sure that they are close to the beach.
Not every campground is the same. We took special care in selecting comfortable locations with shady trees, clean sanitary facilities, hot showers, and interesting surroundings. Once again, you can count on the fact that the grounds will be near the beach.
If you don't have your own tent, you can rent one from us for a small charge. According to the manufacturer, they are designed for three persons. However, we understand that luggage also takes up space and so we rent them out to two people, at most. If you prefer to sleep alone, please state "single tent" when booking and pay the corresponding price. Generally, we have igloo tents, but we still have a few ridge tents. They all come with floors and rain covers and are double-walled, i.e., there is both an inner and an outer tent wall. Some are lined with reflective material for improved insulation.
We cannot accept reservations for a specific type of tent. And, please, since we just don't have the time or the ability to check, repair and clean the tents after every trip, we ask you to take good care of them and to clean them thoroughly after use, packing them carefully with all the pegs, ropes, and poles.
As a rule, each coach contains a sufficient number of fold-away tables and benches. This enables us to have picnics both en route and at our destination. The equipment is also used for group discussions and other meetings.
We provide several double-burner gas stoves, including the bottled gas,
free of charge. We usually have a few large cooking pots with us, but we
ask that you also bring your own smaller pot, some dishes, and kitchen
utensils along. (And please don't forget the spices!) Your own small camping
stove would also be a useful addition. You will definitely need an air-mattress,
a good sleeping bag, and perhaps a flashlight.
THE USUAL FORMALITIES
On the back page of your travelog, you will find two booking forms -- since our customers come back at a rate of almost 60%! Please print carefully.
Confirmation of Reservation
You will receive confirmation of your reservation immediately after we book you with us. If you book in person, you can take the confirmation with you. By booking through your travel agent you will receive the confirmation from him or her after our approval. Please check your confirmation of reservation to make sure that it lists all of the "extras" you wish, such as tent, double room, ski-lift ticket, etc.
Please pay particular attention to our conditions of payment. In every case you must make a deposit of $200.00 per person. The remainder of the price must be paid four weeks prior to departure without a bill being issued by us. If you book the trip four weeks or less prior to departure, you must pay in full then. Due to our very low prices, you will understand that we accept only personal checks, money orders, or cash -- no credit cards.
Vouchers / Tickets
After you pay the balance, you receive a bus-travel voucher, and, where applicable, your plane ticket and a voucher valid for any desired extras such as bicycle or surfboard rental, single or double rooms, tent rental, ski pass, etc. Please don't forget these important documents!! They are non-transferable.
Naturally, you can take with you almost as much luggage as you can lug around. But if you want to do both your luggage and that of others a favor, use suitcases, not backpacks with those bulky frames. We also have a few other pointers. Please don't tie things like sleeping bags, ski-boots, etc., onto your luggage. This just makes it more difficult to load. You can take hand luggage into the bus, and your sleeping bag or blankets can provide you with added comfort, particularly on night journeys. Don't forget to keep your identification papers with you on the bus; otherwise, we might well have to unload the whole luggage compartment at borders. Finally, although we have yet to have any of our coaches broken into, and although the central luggage compartment locking system is just about tamper proof, we still would like to stress that luggage in the coach is not insured by us. We strongly recommend you get some luggage insurance.
Cancellations and Penalties
If you find you have to cancel your trip, let us know in writing as
soon as possible. Our penalties for cancellation are worked out on a set
scale according to the time left prior to the scheduled departure date.
You can avoid these penalties, however, if you book a new trip departing
within one year of the date of cancellation. A standard administrative
fee of $35 will be charged in all cases. It is essential that you send
us the $35 administrative fee, plus any additional cost for the new tour,
within three weeks of cancellation, without a further request by us. Exact
details are in the General Booking Conditions.
We are also happy to help to you in organizing trips for your school, club, or organization. We have, after all, a lot of experience with group tours! We offer all-inclusive ski, camping, cultural, swimming and other vacations. We can take you to all parts of Europe, America, and more -- all with group discounts.
We rent out our coaches,too. Tell us where you want to go with your
school class, sports team, or other group and we will make you an offer
for one or more days. Our price will include the entire cost of the trip.
We don't charge extras later. Contact our New York office to get the latest
prices for trips all over the world. They vary according to season, availability,
distance, and other aspects. Compare our prices with those of other companies,
but make sure that the quotes you get are for all-inclusive trips. We are
convinced that you will find our company the best, with first-class service,
great coaches, and the best of drivers.
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