Sistine Chapel Private Tour canceled :(

leannak

Mouseketeer
Joined
Aug 28, 2011
When we booked our Rome short escape, this was on the itinerary:

Private After-Hours Tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Experience an exclusive after-hours, privately guided tour of the Vatican Museum—home to masterpieces by the greatest artists in history in a collection spanning 4,000 years. Also, be guided by a local expert through the Sistine Chapel where you can get an intimate look at Michelangelo's magnificent achievement.

Today we received the following email from ABD:

We are reaching out to let you know that the after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel will now take place earlier in the day. While this is no longer an exclusive after-hours tour, our group will still experience a guided tour of the Vatican Museums - home to masterpieces by the greatest artists in history. We will also join a local expert for a guided tour through the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo's magnificent achievement.


Oh I am so disappointed!!! The private tour after-hours tour was our reason for booking the ABD. We’ve already paid in full, so too late to cancel. I’ve heard the Sistine chapel is wall-to-wall cattle-call during the day. No matter how good our tour guide is or what “front of the line” access we get, it won’t be the same. Especially with several small children with us. The crowds are harder to manage with little ones. I don’t mean to whine... I’m just really disappointed after booking such an expensive trip. This was what supposedly set ABD apart from the other, much more affordable tours. I’ve heard raving reviews of people doing this ABD and and lying on the floor admiring the ceiling, actually being able to see the beautiful floor without all the crowds on it, sometimes even being allowed to snap a few (flash-less) photos, etc.

Can anyone tell me anything to make me feel better? This is our first ABD.
 

sayhello

Have Camera, Will Travel
Joined
Oct 28, 2006
When we booked our Rome short escape, this was on the itinerary:

Private After-Hours Tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel
Experience an exclusive after-hours, privately guided tour of the Vatican Museum—home to masterpieces by the greatest artists in history in a collection spanning 4,000 years. Also, be guided by a local expert through the Sistine Chapel where you can get an intimate look at Michelangelo's magnificent achievement.

Today we received the following email from ABD:

We are reaching out to let you know that the after-hours tour of the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel will now take place earlier in the day. While this is no longer an exclusive after-hours tour, our group will still experience a guided tour of the Vatican Museums - home to masterpieces by the greatest artists in history. We will also join a local expert for a guided tour through the Sistine Chapel to see Michelangelo's magnificent achievement.


Oh I am so disappointed!!! The private tour after-hours tour was our reason for booking the ABD. We’ve already paid in full, so too late to cancel. I’ve heard the Sistine chapel is wall-to-wall cattle-call during the day. No matter how good our tour guide is or what “front of the line” access we get, it won’t be the same. Especially with several small children with us. The crowds are harder to manage with little ones. I don’t mean to whine... I’m just really disappointed after booking such an expensive trip. This was what supposedly set ABD apart from the other, much more affordable tours. I’ve heard raving reviews of people doing this ABD and and lying on the floor admiring the ceiling, actually being able to see the beautiful floor without all the crowds on it, sometimes even being allowed to snap a few (flash-less) photos, etc.

Can anyone tell me anything to make me feel better? This is our first ABD.
I don't blame you at all for complaining!! I'd be seriously pissed off. That's not what you purchased! If it was me, I'd call ABD and ask what they were going to do to compensate you for the reduced value of your trip. And for a reason why it got changed. I probably wouldn't get anything, but it would make me feel a tiny bit better.

Sayhello
 
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Amanda&Mike

Dizzy in a Teacup
Joined
Jun 23, 2016
Are you going in 2019 or 2020? I see that it's still showing for the 2019 itineraries but not the 2020. We are going next month (June 2019) and like you the main reason we chose this trip was for the private after hours tour but we have not received any email notifying us of any changes...yet.
 
  • Donalyn

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 2, 2008
    We are on the June 11 Italy ABD that also has the private after hours tour on the itinerary, and as far as I know, we haven't gotten an email yet either (but will check with DH when I get home). I would be very upset if this was changed. Sorry it is happening to OP.

    I wonder if it is a universal change, or maybe an issue with Vatican scheduling?
     

    leannak

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 28, 2011
    We are going in 2020. It looks like 2019 trips keep the private tour but 2020 tours just get guided during the day. I still don’t feel that it’s right because it’s not what we had booked. If it was something like the Pope needing the chapel that night I would understand. But this looks like it’s simply a cost-saving measure on ABD’s part.
     

    carpenta

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 26, 2010
    We did that after hours tour and it was great. We even were allowed to take pictures of the Chapel not allowed during regular day visits. We also did a day visit and it was crowded and could not compare. I am really sorry for you not having that luxury and you have every right to question the drop especially when it was attached to a short trip. See if after hour tours are available through any other venders on line and try to book it, you won't be sorry. It does not seem right you have to pay for the same tour twice.
     

    vikequeen

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2015
    I am so sorry for you. I’ve planned on taking this trip someday soon. But the after hour access was a main reason. Without it we will likely do something else. I hope they compensate you for the change.
     
  • jf256

    Earning My Ears
    Joined
    Oct 20, 2018
    Hi we have been on a normal tour of the vatican museums and sistine chapel in the past and they limit the number of people in the chapel so it wont be overly crowded. So i wouldnt be worried about that aspect.

    However; I would definately call Disney and see if there is anything they can do. The reason being that the chapel is an active place of worship so the tour guides are not actually allowed to give a proper tour inside. They give a lot of the info before you go in and just answer individual questions in the chapel. At least that was the case when i went. So call Disney and try to get some sort of compensation becuase the dynamic of the experience will definately have changed.
     

    CaliforniaGirl09

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 4, 2009
    Oh I am so disappointed!!! The private tour after-hours tour was our reason for booking the ABD. We’ve already paid in full, so too late to cancel. I’ve heard the Sistine chapel is wall-to-wall cattle-call during the day. No matter how good our tour guide is or what “front of the line” access we get, it won’t be the same. Especially with several small children with us. The crowds are harder to manage with little ones. I don’t mean to whine... I’m just really disappointed after booking such an expensive trip. This was what supposedly set ABD apart from the other, much more affordable tours. I’ve heard raving reviews of people doing this ABD and and lying on the floor admiring the ceiling, actually being able to see the beautiful floor without all the crowds on it, sometimes even being allowed to snap a few (flash-less) photos, etc.

    Can anyone tell me anything to make me feel better? This is our first ABD.
    I ditto @sayhello I'd be seriously PO'd, too. IMO that's a huge part of the ABD "VIP" experience on this trip. Whine away :) And definitely keep us posted on what they say if you call.
     

    leannak

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 28, 2011
    Oh you are all so nice! I feel like a spoiled baby, whining that I "only" get a guided tour, not a PRIVATE guided tour. Really, though, the private after-hours tour with a guide who's allowed to talk and peaceful surroundings in such an incredible space with my family and children and possibly the ability to take pictures sounded like a dream come true.

    Disney says it's dictated by the Vatican's scheduling and said it's in the fine print of my contract and blew it off as no big deal and we'll still have an "amazing experience." I'm not so sure I believe it was the Vatican's scheduling if all of Disney's 2020 trips changed - I guess I'll see if other companies are still doing after-hours tours. When we booked I thought the after-hours tour was an exclusively Disney thing but then I noticed lots of other tour companies offer the same thing.
     

    Spork24

    Mr. Blue Bird on my shoulder
    Joined
    Jan 21, 2014
    So we just finished our Italy ABD tour. The private tour of the Vatican was certainly one of the top highlights. I am definitely bummed that you guys won’t be doing the version we did. That being said, Disney only uses two local guides in Rome and if you get the one we did (Christina), I’m confident she will still make the experience top notch. (I don’t doubt the skills of the second guide just haven’t met him or her).

    Also I will say the after hours tours are extremely difficult to book but aren’t a Disney exclusive. The Vatican only has I think 4 spots per day for the private/after hours tour groups.
     
  • leannak

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 28, 2011
    What are the chances Disney will do something else spectacular in place of the private after-hours tour? Will they just drop it down to a regular daytime tour and pocket the extra expense? Or do you think they might add some extra magic to another part of our trip because of this change?
     

    Spork24

    Mr. Blue Bird on my shoulder
    Joined
    Jan 21, 2014
    Was the tour scheduled on a Friday night? It looks like the Vatican is open to the public on fridays this summer instead the exclusive groups. Maybe this is driving the change?
     

    blabadie

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 3, 2018
    I'm so sorry to hear that and think you have every right to be very upset. I have done both private and public Sistine Chapel visits and it really does make a huge difference imo. In my experience, the public visit was *packed* with people. It was still amazing seeing the Sistine chapel even with crowds, but the private tour was one of those pinch myself is this real moments.

    If you have extra OYO days in Rome, you could possibly add on a private small group Sistine Chapel tour with one of the official Vatican tour operators (ABD, Tauck, etc. are NOT the only way to get a private Sistine Chapel tour.) However, I can imagine the extra $$$ is the last thing a person wants to think about with an already pricey trip.

    Hopefully ABD will add something great to your itinerary to help compensate. I'm sure you'll have a great trip no matter what.
     

    Grifdog22

    Barking Mad!
    Joined
    Oct 16, 2008
    The private touring of the Sistine Chapel/Vatican tour and tours in Venice were the highlights for us last year; the crowds otherwise were frankly overwhelming. I can't help but notice it's not just the full ABD trip they've cut the private tour from, it's also the Rome Short escape clearly differentiates the 2019 and 2020 trip for this activity. Very disappointing.
     

    leannak

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 28, 2011
    Was the tour scheduled on a Friday night? It looks like the Vatican is open to the public on fridays this summer instead the exclusive groups. Maybe this is driving the change?
    No, it looks like our tour of the Vatican is on a Tuesday.

    Even if it were a Vatican thing that night, don't they usually mix the schedule around to accommodate things like that? We have one, possibly two, other nights they could do it.
     

    laceltris3

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Oct 23, 2013
    I'll be curious to see if Tauck continues the private tour for its groups for 2020. They haven't released and priced 2020 yet for Italy.
     

    Spork24

    Mr. Blue Bird on my shoulder
    Joined
    Jan 21, 2014
    No, it looks like our tour of the Vatican is on a Tuesday.

    Even if it were a Vatican thing that night, don't they usually mix the schedule around to accommodate things like that? We have one, possibly two, other nights they could do it.

    Yes, they do swap things to accommodate when possible but the nighttime tour of the Vatican is supposedly booked up years in advance. I doubt they could move to another night.
     

    Lulu27

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Dec 19, 2015
    I'll be curious to see if Tauck continues the private tour for its groups for 2020. They haven't released and priced 2020 yet for Italy.
    Me, too. I wonder if it's a case of ABD couldn't/wouldn't renew contract for private tours or if the Vatican is cutting down on private tours.
     

    misstammy824

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    May 15, 2010
    The full tour's 2020 itinerary still includes the private tour in the details. It looks like the change is only being made on the Rome Escape.
     

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