Not 100 percent satisfied with my Hawaii tour. Not even close.

Things did not go as planned when Vera Martignetti took a shore excursion offered by Roberts Hawaii on a recent cruise. But it’s a good thing Martignetti knew where to turn for help.

Martignetti and her daughter had booked a four-tour combo for the two of them at a cost of $239 each.

Because she’s 78 years old, Vera Martignetti was careful not to schedule anything too taxing for their off-ship excursions. Their third Roberts tour was Volcanoes National Park and Rainbow Falls in Hilo. That morning, they were taken by their driver to Volcanoes Park. The third stop was a lava tube that hadn’t been mentioned on the tour description. Vera and her daughter were told to “go down the steps, go single file through the lava tube, and go counterclockwise when we come out to return to the bus.” The tube might be moist, she was told.

“The tube was more than moist,” Martignetti says, “with water dripping down on us and numerous puddles of water on our path.”

She continues,

As a result, I fell trying to avoid a large puddle which covered the entire path side to side.

When my daughter got me back to the bus and asked the driver for help, he was only able to find a first-aid kit with no gauze or large bandages.

He clearly had no first aid experience and was very flustered when trying to find things in the kit. Others on the bus helped wash the dripping blood out of my eye and off of my right arm.

At the next stop, park rangers were already there providing assistance to someone else who had fallen. We asked them to look at my wounds and they provided first aid and advised us to return to the ship and have the ship’s doctor work on the injuries, adding that I’d need antibiotics and a tetanus shot.

During the next part of the excursion in Hilo, Martignetti filled out an injury report, and the driver took them back to the ship while the excursion continued on.

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“The ship’s doctor spent 45 minutes or so digging lava granules and pebbles out of my forehead, the palms of my hands and the back of my right hand and arm,” she explained. “There also were numerous contusions all over my body. I got a required tetanus shot and antibiotics.”

Martignetti’s daughter called Roberts Hawaii’s customer service office early the next morning and told them that, because of her injuries, they would not be taking that day’s tour on Kona. It would have been necessary for them to take a tender to and from the port, and Martignetti didn’t feel up to taking the tour.

The person who answered her call said she hadn’t heard anything about the incident. When the agent pulled up their account online, there had been no notation or information added. The agent said she’d ask around and get back to them.

Another person called that evening and left a message saying they had found the injury report and would refund $63 to account for the second half of the tour that was missed on Hilo. She also said that Roberts was quite clear about not refunding canceled excursions within 24 hours and would not provide any refund for the tour on Kona.

Since this case was clearly an exception, Martignetti’s daughter felt sure this was a misunderstanding. Martignetti returned the agent’s call to clarify the situation but got voicemail. She left a message asking to have her call returned so they could discuss it, but never got a response. She also had not seen the promised $63 refund for the Hilo tour credited to her account.

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Fortunately, Martignetti’s next step was to reach out to us to request contact information for Roberts Hawaii. Our research team was able to send her the information, which is now shared on our website. She wrote to them:

Your website clearly says ‘We are proud to offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on our tour products.’ Needless to say, at this point we are not satisfied.

I’m not asking for reimbursement of my medical bills ($391.83 billed by Norwegian Cruise Line). I would just like both of us to be reimbursed for the portion of our Hilo tour that we couldn’t continue, and for the entire Kona tour.

Roberts Hawaii’s marketing manager responded, offering to personally check on the Hilo tour refund. “We will also be refunding your entire Historic Kona tour,” the manager added.

A quick glance at Roberts Hawaii’s website shows that the tour agency is rated A+ by the Better Business Bureau and received a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor. No wonder the agency responded favorably to Vera’s request. This is a great reminder to find reputable travel vendors by doing good research.

And don’t hesitate to contact us if you have problems.

Mark Pokedoff

Four-time Emmy-award-winning television sports production specialist and frequent traveler. Longtime freelance writer and travel blog enthusiast. Proud papa of four amazing kids who have been upgraded to first class more than all their friends combined. Read more of Mark's articles here.

  • Annie M

    Roberts Hawaii is a very reputable company and I am surprised that their customer service rep. didn’t make an exception and refund right away,especially once they verified the accident report. That’s simple customer service.

    And the letter writer was generous not asking to be reimbursed for the medical bills if she didn’t have travel insurance to reimburse her too.

    In the future, she should know she could have refused to go through that portion of the tour and give back to the bus. There are no rules that say you must do everything on a tour if you feel it is dangerous.

  • DChamp56

    That part of the tour was misrepresented, and to be honest, Roberts Hawaii should have paid her medical expenses because of that. Luckily, she was fine with the resolution.

  • Rebecca

    Ask for something reasonable, and receive a favorable response. Who would have thought? She should have been able to fix this with one phone call. But, to the company’s credit, once it was escalated, they responded immediately and favorably. It sounds like it was an honest mistake they didn’t resolve it immediately.

    As a side note, why in the world would a tour bus driver be familiar with how to administer first aid? I don’t understand that complaint. A tour bus driver shouldn’t be expected to be an EMT.

  • Travelnut

    A couple of years ago I took a 5 day bus tour through rural Scotland. At one location we needed to walk along a slippery path lined by a barbed wire fence. I slipped and instinctively grabbed the fence. My hand had two long slices. The bus didn’t even have a first aid kit. One of the passengers was a nurse, and she had band-aids and antiseptic with her. I probably should have gotten a tetanus shot but it turned out okay. By the time we would stop in these small towns, any stores with first aid supplies would be closed for the day. I asked our guide what would happen if someone got really ill or injured along way. He said their tour would end at that point and they would be left at the closest tour stop.

  • greg watson

    It certainly makes sense to have an updated first aid kit with bandages & antiseptic etc on the tour bus. The driver wasn’t expected to be a EMT, but the supplies should have been available, so someone could have helped this person. We always took a first aid kit on family road trips…………………….didn’t you ?

  • Annie M

    And this is why travel insurance is important – most people have no medical coverage outside the U.S. and if you slip and fall and get hurt outside the U.S., you are on your own with the medical bills. Luckily she fell in Hawaii so she didn’t have to worry about that but it might have reimbursed her for the medical bills on the ship so she was not out of pocket at all.

  • AAGK

    Her shock that the bus driver was not also a doctor was the only part of the letter I could focus on.

  • AAGK

    Sure but he’s not obligated to administer care. He located bandaids and antiseptic. If she needed an ambulance, he would’ve called one. Why would someone even want their bus driver nursing their wounds when they have a family member right there to help?

  • Alan Gore

    Reputation of the company and customer expectations are key here. I once saw a similar fall happen – to an older woman in my tour party – on a trail in New Zealand. We all did what we could to stabilize her broken arm while we waited for help to arrive. This took the form of two rubicund EMTs on foot, puffing up the trail with a rolled-up stretcher and a tackle box (yes, the kind designed for fishermen) containing their kit. They got her splinted, loaded up and carried back to their ambulance parked at the trailhead.

    All of this was borne stoically by the victim, who being Canadian, expected and received exactly this level of service, which though barebones was correspondingly inexpensive. Had this happened to a tourist on one of our Arizona trails the evacuation would have involved a helicopter, half a million in Chargemaster hospital bills, and at least one lawyer.

  • greg watson

    I didn’t read that he located band aids & antiseptic………I read that there was no gauze or large bandages. So, the point was, if there were the proper items in the first aid kit, the daughter could have cleaned & bandaged her mother until she saw a doctor (or)……………………and your next comment is just plain silly!

  • greg watson

    Do you sell travel insurance………just wondering about the relevance ??

  • Rebecca

    I have a first aid kit, a blanket, and jumper cables that I always leave in my car. And obviously I make sure I have a functioning jack and spare. I understand saying the first aid kit wasn’t stocked. I wouldn’t complain about that, but falls into the category of whatever. But the OP said this:

    “He clearly had no first aid experience and was very flustered when trying to find things in the kit.”

    Why should he have first aid experience? And some people are afraid of blood. I’m not, I’m the guy you want in the room if you cut your arm off. But I’ve met people that are very afraid of blood, needles, etc. He’s a tour bus driver. Shouldn’t have first aid experience as a job qualification.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    I agree with you. We were on a similar tour this September that we booked through NCL, not Roberts (and we hiked the four mile crater hike as well as the Thurston lava tube). On our crater hike there were some 70 year olds who were a little slower, but made it (and had no trouble at all with the lava tube). If she couldn’t walk the lava tube, she is, unfortunately, probably not physically fit, because other than a long set of stairs down and up, the tube itself is quite flat (with some puddles inside). I definitely get that a 78 year old might not be able to do this walk (though I know many 80+ year olds who would find it easy), but if she didn’t feel comfortable, she should have just stayed on the bus. I put a picture of the tube below.

  • AAGK

    This is how the tour she selected is described “prepare for a thrilling day exploring volatile volcanos.” It also describes the walking on a black sand beach. If someone knows what sand is then it’s clear they will not be walking on a firm surface. What’s unclear? She said he clearly had no first aid experience while trying “to find things in the kit.” So there was a kit with things. I assumed they were bandaids. I have no idea why daughter didn’t just take the kit from the driver herself. A bus driver doesn’t need first aid experience anyway but her expectations seem to be unusual.

  • AAGK

    Also, why the tetanus shot? Isn’t she vaccinated?

  • greg watson

    you are off point again & your assumptions appear to be incorrect. By the way, are you & Rebecca anywhere near 78 years old ? Have a heart, she really didn’t do anything wrong, nor did she expect a first aid expert. Obviously the kit did not have the items it should have, so the daughter could not clean up the damage…………………………have a productive & healthy 2017

  • PsyGuy

    It’s precautionary.

  • PsyGuy

    This was Hawaii though, it’s in the united States.

  • PsyGuy

    Could have been an inexperienced agent.

  • JewelEyed

    It’s worth it to keep up with your tetanus shot regularly at your doctor’s office because we often get small cuts not realizing what we cut ourselves on and don’t realize how contaminated the object might have been. Then you don’t have to run to the hospital in the middle of the night for a tetanus shot if it doesn’t require sutures or gluing.

  • JewelEyed

    People frequently do not keep up with tetanus boosters. I actually had to argue with one doctor’s office because one of their providers and one of their nurses absolutely refused to do it, claiming they wouldn’t be able to bill for it somehow because it wasn’t related to an injury (What?!?). I spoke to the physician who ran the practice the next time we went in for an appointment, explaining we get cuts all the time and it makes no sense to scramble to get the shot once there’s already an injury when you could do it and get it over with now. The doctor told the nurse to give it. If other people have as much trouble as I did that time, I can see why. At my doctor’s office, I told the doc and the nurse gave me the booster, no problem, no fuss. Very strange.

  • JewelEyed

    That’s too funny, our first aid kit at home is a tackle box too.

  • AAGK

    My mom isn’t even anywhere near 78 years old

  • AAGK

    Psy is right. It’s relevant bc she’s in the United States and her medical insurance should cover. Most people who purchase travel insurance don’t rely on it for medical expenses, unless they purchase medi vac or if they are in another country.

  • greg watson

    as I said earlier, this comment is just plain silly…………you must make poor assumptions a lot

  • AAGK

    I always carry a few bandaids and mini packets of neosporin in my purse. I have helped 2 bike riders who got in traffic accidents in front of me with this stuff.

  • Annie M

    Or a lazy one

  • AAGK

    Which comment? Why are you freaking out that I assumed that a random bus driver had bandaids? He may or may not have.

  • PsyGuy

    That’s true.

  • JenniferFinger

    Comment deleted due to personal attack

  • JenniferFinger

    Comment deleted due to personal attack.

  • Lindabator

    does not cover on the ship, but comprehensive travel insurance would

  • Lindabator

    the ship would have treated her, and do NOT take your insurance – although travel insurance would have covered her

  • LonnieC

    Alan, there’s never just one lawyer (said by a lawyer).😄

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