The ACE Experience
Over 60 Years of Expertise
Established in 1958, ACE Cultural Tours is the UK’s longest established cultural travel tour operator, with over 60 years’ experience. Continuing to build on this heritage in 2020, we look forward to offering tours to new and exciting destinations worldwide, alongside returning and perennial favourites.
Our tours aim to uncover cultural intricacies and connections across a wide range of subject areas and themes including art, architecture, archaeology, history, music, regional culture and natural history. Rather than exclusively focusing on the isolated history or development of one artistic work, archaeological site or historical occurrence, our itineraries are also designed to take in the bigger picture and provide context within a wider cultural landscape. Our Tour Directors illustrate and illuminate their themes with formal lectures and on-site talks, and where appropriate local guides will supplement their knowledge. Many itineraries include privileged access, exclusive visits and private concerts to further enhance your enjoyment. No prior knowledge is needed, just an interest in the subjects concerned.
Our Tour Directors
Chosen not only for their specialist knowledge, but equally for the clarity and enthusiasm with which they communicate and impart their passion to others, our expert Tour Directors are personally involved in the creation and planning of our tours. Biographies and further information about all of our Tour Directors are available at the back of this brochure, as well as on our website. Several of our tours, particularly our river cruises, combine the expertise of multiple Tour Directors, whose specialisms across distinct subject areas combine to create a unique amalgamation of perspectives. On many of our tours, the Tour Director or Directors will be supported by an experienced Tour Manager, responsible for ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of our itineraries.
Travelling with Us
Our travellers, whilst often independent in spirit, enjoy the relaxed ambience we like to create on our tours. Group dinners, for example, are a wonderful opportunity to get to know new friends and discuss the day’s visits and experiences in a convivial atmosphere. On shorter tours all days will typically have a full itinerary whilst on longer tours we often include some free time to allow for individual exploration or relaxation. Solo travellers make up a significant proportion of all of our groups – so those travelling alone can be assured of finding a welcoming atmosphere amongst like-minded people. We pride ourselves on looking after single travellers very well, from working to minimise the additional cost incurred by single supplements at the booking stage, to ensuring that there’s always somebody with whom to share a coffee or lunch once on tour.
Am I Fit Enough to Travel?
Our tours range from fairly strenuous and challenging departures to those with a more relaxed feel, particularly our cruises and gentler tours. Regardless of the type of tour, it is important that our clients meet minimum fitness criteria to ensure that the enjoyment of the rest of the group is not compromised. Most days on tour will involve a considerable amount of walking, perhaps visiting galleries, archaeological sites on rocky terrain, or simply exploring the cobbled streets of hilltop towns and villages. Walks on natural history tours are typically 3–5 miles in length, often in hilly or mountainous regions.
Our gentler tours have been created specifically by ACE for travellers who prefer a more laid-back, less physically demanding itinerary while retaining the same high level of academic content. Information regarding the fitness requirements for all our tours is available throughout this publication and on our website. For those concerned about their suitability to travel, our Sales & Reservations team, contactable via email or over the phone, are always happy to advise on the specifics of individual tours.
Value for Money
Generally, our tours are very comprehensive and there are few personal expenses apart from some meals and drinks. Customers have frequently complimented us on the value for money offered by our tours, and our policy of including gratuities for most services as standard has proven particularly popular. Our brochure descriptions give a clear indication of what is included for each tour.
Accommodation and Food
We work closely with the hotels we use to ensure that facilities, cleanliness and comfort levels are up to expected standards. In selecting accommodation for our tours, we strive to achieve a balance between factors such as accessibility, location and costs. We also recognise that the opportunity to sample different cuisines is an integral part of the cultural experience, so when travelling overseas we like to give you the chance to try traditional dishes. When travelling off the beaten track it is sometimes necessary to use simpler accommodation.
The majority of our tours are designed for groups of approximately 25 participants, enabling everyone to make the most of our itineraries and of the insights of our expert Tour Directors. Some of our natural history tours are limited to 15 participants, ensuring all travellers have the best possible chance to engage with the flora and fauna on offer. Numbers on some of our cruises may be greater, in line with the capacity of the vessels used. In these circumstances, support is provided by additional Tour Directors, Tour Managers, guides or members of the crew, to ensure due attention is paid to the needs of all group members.
We are proud to be the preferred travel provider for people who are committed to supporting local communities in the countries they visit.
Each year, the trustees of the ACE Foundation (the Association for Cultural Exchange), an educational charity founded in 1958 which owns ACE Cultural Tours, support charitable and educational projects all over the world in the regions we visit. These include international conservationist and research projects, as well as work closer to home at Stapleford Granary, our base near Cambridge.
A Commitment to Excellence
The feedback provided by ACE customers is invaluable in helping us to continue delivering a first-class experience, or helping to identify areas that could be improved for the future. In 2019, ACE Cultural Tours was awarded the Feefo Gold Trusted Service Award for the second year in a row. This is an independent accreditation awarded to businesses that consistently deliver exceptional experiences, as rated by real customers. We are very grateful to those of you who take the time to give us feedback, and are committed to continuing to improve the service we provide.