Serving Our Veterans,
their Families and Friends
for over 30 Years.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. There are WWII tours being offered at a lower price than those operated by Historic Tours. Why should I go with Historic Tours?
A. Many travel agents and general interest tour operators are trying to "cash in" on the interest generated by the 70th anniversary of D-Day, Band of Brothers, and Saving Private Ryan. These companies simply sub-contract with companies with little or no experience in WWII tours, but offer low prices for inferior tours.
In fact, in many cases your "English Speaking Guide" may be visiting Normandy for the first time on your tour. Ray finds Americans on poorly planned and operated tours every day on the Normandy beaches. He tries to help them or their frantic "Guides" but it is often too late to save the "once in a lifetime" trip planned by many Americans. These poorly planned tours may indeed be less expensive, but tour members often have unsatisfactory experiences and
go home very unhappy.
If you wish to make a general interest tour which happens to visit Normandy for a night or two, then Historic Tours should not be your tour operator. If however you wish to thoroughly enjoy your tour and go home knowing that the information you received is accurate and given from an American point of view, then you should travel with us.
Q. Is there a qualified historian to relate the American role in the areas which we visit?
A. Ray Pfeiffer is America’s most experienced World War II Historian/Tour Director. In addition to the Master of Science degree and Professional Certificate from the American Tour Management Institute which he holds, he has personally guided over 8,000 tour members throughout Europe and Australia.
Historic Tours does not utilize local guides who know little or nothing about the American role in World War II. We relate the war through from the Tour Director’s seat at the front of our bus, with on-site presentations such as walking on Omaha Beach or on the streets of Paris. We make presentations on some evenings at our hotels where we utilize detailed maps to explain the areas we visit and answers questions from our tour members.
Of course Ray is also a veteran of amphibious operations, but that is not all, his years of experience offer insights which no other company can offer. In addition to Ray's experience with the thousands of veterans who have related their personal on-site experiences, Ray's historical references include such famous books as : The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer, A Time For Trumpets and The Battle of the Huertgen Forest by Charles B. MacDonald, The Longest Day by Cornelius Ryan, Is Paris Burning? by Larry Collins & Dominique Lapierre, D-Day and Band of Brothers by Stephen E. Ambrose.
Q. I am going on a cruise which happens to spend a day in le Havre or Cherbourg. Do you think the tours offered by the cruise are worthwhile?
A. Many of our tour members have first visited Normandy by cruise ship. The distance from le Havre to the American sector by bus is at least two hours each way, it is a bit less from Cherbourg. The tours they offer are very rushed and if your port is le Havre it will be almost impossible to visit Utah Beach or the Ste. Mere-Eglise areas, the distances are just too great.
These tours normally offer a quick visit to the Normandy American Cemetery and a drive-by visit to Omaha Beach and possibly Pegasus Bridge. People with just a casual interest in history may be satisfied with this type of experience. However most of our tour members have a deep interest in the American role in D-Day and The Battle of Normandy. Such tours simply whet their appetite for learning about the America's participation. They then call Historic Tours.
Q. What is the difference between a Group Tour and a Private Tour?
A. Group Tours are usually sponsored by various organizations such as The College of the Ozarks, The 35th Infantry Division Association, Focus on the Family. These tours typically have 20 to 100 participants. Some tours such as our 70th Anniversary of D-Day Commemorative Tour in 2014 are not sponsored, and are sold to the general public.
In this case, the itinerary is set in advance.
On Group Tours we travel in a deluxe, high tech motor bus and Ray and Cristy arrange hotels and meals. Ray is present on the bus guiding the tour as well as on short walking tours. Cristy handles the logistics with hotels and restaurants and sees to the personal needs of our tour members.
Group Tours are usually about 10 days and will feature more than one region in Europe. We use bus drivers we have worked with for years and hotels we have stayed in for many years, which means that we are well known by the management.
Our Private Tours can be operated with as few as one tour member. Usually families between two and six people arrange these and the tours are not open to the public. The itinerary is designed by Ray and the client prior to the tour. Our Private Tours are "once in a lifetime" experiences designed to fullfill the goals of the touring group.
Ray drives groups of three or less in his personal, air conditioned mini-van. For more than three people, we rent a larger vehicle which Ray drives. In some cases we will hire a bus and driver, as we have done with families of twelve people or more. When on Private Tours, Ray and Cristy provide a "Turn Key" experience by picking up our clients up at their point of arrival, remaining with them throughout the tour, and seeing to them until their departure.
Q. I don’t want to travel to France because I heard the French people don’t like Americans.
A. The French people in every area of France – Normandy, Paris, Brittany, Provence, the Riviera and Lorraine have done incredible things to extend the warmest hospitality to all of our tour members. Parades, receptions, monument dedications have all been arranged at the French people’s expense. They understand the debt they owe America. As America’s oldest ally, French army and naval forces helped America win the battle of Yorktown, which was the deciding battle of the American War of Independence. The Statue of Liberty was given to the American people with funds raised by French school children.
France is the world's #1 tourist destination, yet sometimes Americans travel to France expecting to meet rude, unfriendly people. Perhaps, if they have a problem ordering a meal or getting directions due to language problems, they assume that the French don't like them because they are Americans. In fact, many Americans travel to France without learning to speak even a word of French believing that all of the French people can speak English, but choose not to speak it. This is just not so. Only about 30% of the French speak any English. France had a huge worldwide empire and French is spoken on every continent.
When we tell our French friends that the perception shared by many Americans is that they don't like Americans, the French are always shocked and dismayed. We can assure all of our tour members that this stereotype of the French people will be disproved during our tour.
All of our members who believed that the French were going to be unfriendly go home saying something like this, "I'm going to tell so-and-so that they were totally wrong about the French, I can't wait until I can return to France, it's beautiful and the people are great"!
Many American WWII veterans traveling with Historic Tours, who did not serve in Normandy, received commemorative medals and honorary citizenship from the Mayor of Ste. Marie-du-Mont, France. The French people want to express their gratitude to all Americans for their liberation. This is typical of the way all veterans are received in France.
Q. Does Historic Tours subcontract with European guides?
A. NO, however, this is the norm with many companies. This is why many tours are unsuccessful, your "Tour Director" could be visiting the sites on the tour for the first time! We reccommend that you speak with the Tour Director, not just a Tour Escort. If you are told this is not possible, you can be certain that you do not want to book with that company.
Q. Why do we need to spend 3 or 4 nights in Normandy? I have seen tours offered where they make a day-trip from Paris and return to the city at night. Other tours spend one night in the Normandy area. Isn't this enough time?
A. The distance from Sword Beach on the left flank to the invasion of Utah Beach on the right flank is 55 miles. In addition it takes four hours to drive from Paris to Normandy. So any day-trip from Paris will spend eight hours on the highway. Operation Overlord was a gigantic undertaking and it is simply not possible to make a meaningful visit to the invasion beaches and the inland areas in one or even two days.
Historic Tours visits the British beaches including Pegasus Bridge, but we concentrate mostly on the American beaches and on the areas where our airborne forces fought. Our itineraries for visiting these areas have been perfected over the 30 years we have worked in Normandy. We can assure you that any tour which spends less than three or four days in Normandy will leave you unsatisfied.
Q. I know of others who had an unsatisfactory experience while with other companies which offer WWII Commemorative Tours, will we have the same experience?
A. Ray and Cristy Pfeiffer will personally guide and direct your tour and no one has more experience as WWII Tour Directors than they do. They have a combined experience of 60 years directing over 8,000 Americans on WWII Commemorative Tours. You can be assured your tour will focus on the American role and will be historically accurate, educational, and sensitive to the needs of veterans and their families.
Q. I am afraid that our tour will be inflexible and will not accomodate our wish to visit "special places", such as where a family member was wounded or where a certain unit may have fought.
A. Cristy and Ray always talk with tour members prior to every tour and ask if there is such a place they may wish to visit. In addition a space is available on the Reservation Form to make special requests. We have accomplished amazing things since 1983 such as re-uniting Americans with families in Europe they may not have seen since the war or finding foxholes and buildings in which veterans may have fought.
We take great care to assist tour members in finding graves in the various American military cemeteries we visit. Cristy and Ray arrange with the cemetery superintendent in advance for flowers to be available to place on the grave and arrange for a solemn ceremony to take place to honor the deceased. If a tour member wishes to visit a grave privately, we find the location of the grave prior to the tour and then direct or escort the tour member to the grave.
Q. How do I know that the hotels and meals served will be of high quality?
A. We stay only at the finest hotels available in all areas. We stay at Deluxe Class and First Class hotels which have all the modern amenities found at American hotels. Our hotels are modern, often have swimming pools, massage service, and fitness centers. Of course all of our hotels include private bathrooms.
Menus are handpicked months in advance by Cristy and they are of the highest quality and feature local specialties. We are well known by the staff of the restaurants and we take great care to make certain that pitchers of water and plenty of good European bread and butter are placed on our tour members’ tables. In addition we include a buffet breakfast daily. These can be expensive (about $20 daily), but we include them every day.
Cristy and Ray also tip the hotel and restaurant staffs generously to assure the best service for our tour members, few other tour companies do this. We work closely with the restaurant staffs to assure speedy service, yet a comfortable dining experience.
Our dinners are scheduled to begin at a reasonable time following the day's activities.
Q. Are there many long walks on the tour?
A. No, our tours are designed with seniors in mind and include some very short walking tours such as on Omaha or Utah Beaches and on the Ile de la Cite in Paris.
Q. I'm worried that there will be long drives and many hotel changes.
A. One of the signs of a well-planned tour is the absence of long drives and a minimum of hotel changes. Our tours are designed with the comfort and safety of our tour members being our most important concern.
Our tours typically spend at least two nights in each area and in Normandy we normally spend three or four nights in one hotel. Occasionally we may have a day where we spend just one night in a hotel, but this is the exception.
Q. What if I don't want to go on a "Graveyard Tour"?
A. Our tours are designed to not only visit the areas of importance relating to World War II, but also to see some of the most beautiful areas of Europe. We stay in wonderful hotels and many tours include a dinner cruise on the Seine in Paris or a Rhine River day cruise. These are some of Europe’s most romantic experiences.
Normandy, Paris, Clervaux, the Rhine, Berchtesgaden and Munich are some of Europe’s most scenic areas. Our tours allow enough time to enjoy just sitting in a café, shopping, enjoying an art museum or the Bayeux Tapestry. Our veterans are often heard saying "It was worth fighting for!"
Q. My wife is not as interested as I am in the World War II history, will there be anything of interest for her?
A. Our tours are designed to be flexible. The areas we visit are some of the most beautiful in the world.
In addition to the history, the architecture of Europe is something that can not be seen in the USA, the restaurants and shopping are superb and the areas such as Normandy, Paris and Luxembourg are not only historic but romantic as well.
Many couples have traveled on our World War II Commemorative Tours to celebrate an anniversary. We have even had newlyweds spend their honeymoon on our tours!
The dinner cruise we feature in Paris is one of the world’s great experiences. Many of the ladies who have traveled with us and had their doubts about their interest in the tour quickly changed their minds and joined in our tour experiences whole heartedly.
Historic Tours Incorporated 1281 Paterson Plank Road, Secaucus, New Jersey 07094
800-222-1170 firstname.lastname@example.org or on Facebook
It Is Not Simply A Tour, It Is A Life Experience