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Puffin Express - CLOSED
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Big tours and small Groups!

I booked two separate tours with Puffin in early October 2008 and enjoyed both. I was looking for... read more

Reviewed 16 December 2008
Jessica A
,
Minnesota
Go Orkney

I recently did the day tour of Orkney with Sinclair Dunnett. What a fabulous day. What a fabulous... read more

Reviewed 4 November 2013
solotraveller92012
,
Brisbane australia
via mobile
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Reviewed 4 November 2013

I recently did the day tour of Orkney with Sinclair Dunnett. What a fabulous day. What a fabulous Island. The tour was fully comprehensive and Sinclair is an extremely knowledgeable guide. We had a really good day with lots of photo opportunities and tours. Had lots of fun as well.

I would highly recommend this tour to everybody.

1  Thank solotraveller92012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 January 2012

After reading other reviews, I was surprised to hear of the negative experiences had by others as I had had such a fantastic one. Perhaps I was just lucky, but my dealings with Puffin Express were all straight forward and well mannered.
Not sure if it made a difference, but I arranged for me and the other 3 adults travelling with me to go on a private Orkneys tour and it was just us with our guide, Sinclair. My only complaints would be that we were a bit squished in the hatchback car hired to take us around and the cost wasn't cheap, but we all felt that it was well worth it.
We were picked up from the hotel and dropped off again at the end of the day, taken to the major Neolithic sights of Skara Brae, Maeshowe, Standing Stones of Stenness & Ring of Brodgar whilst being provided with Sinclair's commentary. We also had some free time at the end before heading back on the ferry, during which we explored Kirkwall including the Bishop's and Earl's Palaces. Naturally, we didn't do anything that we couldn't have done ourselves, but felt that we saved a lot of hassle and stress by having someone with knowledge take us around. It meant that we could better absorb the mind blowing things we were seeing.
One thing to note is that site entry fees were not included in the cost to Puffin, though Sinclair informed me of this at the time of booking. We decided to purchase Historic Scotland passes and used them for many attractions throughout Scotland, so ended up coming out in front by the end of our time in the country.

Thank J L
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 15 May 2011

Like some of the other reviewers, I am also surprised that this company is still in business! We had a very bad experience last year with Puffin Express (or Nor'west Tours as they are also, or were previously, known). We went on a short trip in the north of Scotland with this company and, although we loved the sights, we were given incorrect information regarding the schedule of part of the tour. We tried to contact the office in Inverness but there was no answer so, rather than miss out, we paid extra money to go on a day trip with a different coach company. We informed the Nor'West office of the problem on our return but they refused to take any responsibility for the mistake - instead we got a load of excuses. No proper apology was given but, eventually (more than 3 months later), we were given a refund of the extra money we had to pay. The aftercare skills and attitude of the owner of the company left a lot to be desired. Taking responsibility for what was clearly their mistake and a sincere apology would have gone a long way! If nothing goes wrong on your tour, you will probably have a great time but, if anything does, watch out! Next time, we will go with a tour company that we know and trust.

16  Thank WillM45
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 October 2010

I see Puffin has changed it's name. This good to know as I would never, ever subject myself to another experience like the one we had a couple of years ago with them. Yes our driver was the aforementioned Sinclair. He came across as one who knows everything about everything. If you don't believe him, just ask him! We really appreciated the nice touch of dropping us off at Cawdor Castle then being advised that he could not make it back to pick us up, but we could catch a bus "over there." I am truly surprised they are still in business!

16  Thank RIJC
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 September 2010

I'm a bit leery of bus tours. Most seem mechanical, impersonal and if you do have a driver who narrates, it's usually from a memorized script. Not so with Nor'West. My father and I took the Isle of Skye day tour earlier this month, and not only was Sinclair extremely knowledgeable of the surrounding area, he went out of his way to connect with everyone on a more personal level. Just don't be late to the pick-up points, haha. The scenery was spectacular and Sinclair even made a special stop so I could take in a spot I had a personal interest in. I'd recommend this tour to anyone. Thanks for a great day!

Thank J C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 September 2009

I've recently been on two of Nor'west tours and enjoyed both of them. One was to the Castle of Mey which was small and interesting. The other was to the Applecross Peninsular. The wather was perfect to see the scenery. The lunch stop at the Potting Shed was very good. Fresh cooked food with a view of the garden. There was a few stops for photo's including one to see the red deer. Our guide Kathleen was very friendly and helpful. A very good way to see places that are off the beaten track.

1  Thank travelbug90
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 July 2009

Puffin Express (now called Nor-West Tours) run small, friendly tours in a minibus, from Inverness to the far reaches of Scotland. Sinclair Dunnett, who has been our guide on both of the trips I've been on, is a wonderfully friendly, funny and knowledgeable guide who helps everyone feel welcome, and shares his insider knowledge and love for the beautiful landscapes and wildlife that you will see if you go on one of the tours.

Earlier this month my boyfriend and I went on a Nor West Tours one day trip from Inverness to John o'Groats and back. Sinclair, our guide, was immensely knowledgeable about everywhere we went, and passed a "fact file" around the minibus with interesting snippets of news, interviews, maps and pictures relevant to the areas we were visiting.

As with the previous tour we took from Inverness to Skye back in 2005, there were lots of stops along the way, where we got the chance to get out of the bus, stretch our legs, explore the area and spot wildlife. On this particular tour, binoculars were provided so that we could get a close-up view of puffins, seals and deer!

This tour covers an incredible distance so it is quite a long day - we set off just after 9am and arrived back at about 8pm - by the end I think everyone was rather tired. But we packed an amazing amount in on the tour - from a wonderful picnic lunch stop in a secluded harbour, to multiple wildlife-spotting stops and of course, John O' Groats (which as Sinclair points out, is NOT the most northerly point in Britain!) You can read more about this particular tour at http://www.go-orkney.com/jog.htm

I'd thoroughly recommend these tours to anyone who loves the beautiful scenery in the Highlands and wants a friendly guide to help them see all the best bits in a day.

Thank ad759
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 December 2008

I booked two separate tours with Puffin in early October 2008 and enjoyed both. I was looking for a tour company (I didn't want to drive myself) that offered a small group setting and allowed me to relax and enoy the journey as well as the sites! This I found in Puffin.

My tours were a day trip to the Orkneys, and a day trip to the Isle of Skye. On both trips I had informed and interesting drivers who added to the experience by sharing their local knowledge. The trips were well organized and allowed reasonable time at each of the sites along the way.

If you are looking to be pampered, this may not be your ideal. However if you are looking to be informed and be well taken care of - as well as getting good value for your money - then Puffin will leave you very satisfied! I look forward to booking with them again when I return to Inverness in the future!

2  Thank Jessica A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 22 September 2008

Although these tours fill a gap in the market, allowing those who do not wish to self-drive to see areas of the Highlands of Scotland they would otherwise miss, I pray you enjoy your experience because the aftercare skills of the company are somewhat lacking. Having arrived at the pick-up point early we were stunned to come out of the tourist information centre and see our minibus leaving without us - prior to the set departure time. Another of their minibuses arrived and they did get our bus to return for us but alarm bells were already ringing - perhaps comparing them to the fabulous service we received in Edinburgh from Timberbush is unfair but if you are in the same industry you need to try to do as well as the big boys or charge less. The tour started and we were comfortable together at the front, at the next pick-up point we were asked to move so others could all sit together - they moved us to the back where we could no longer sit together!! At the back of the minibus we began to feel ill, we reckoned the day could only be salvaged by leaving the tour as soon as we could and making our own way back to Inverness. Comments were made to the company regarding our tour and they came back to us with a catalogue of excuses, and plenty of big words no doubt intended to intimidate, and the offer of a £15 refund which they said would be deducted from the driver's wages! Unhappy though we were with the service we received from Puffin Express, telling us the refund is coming direct from his wages is simply making us feel worse. They employ the driver and should accept responsability for his actions (do they offer training??) Next time we will stick with tours from reputable companies, with smart coaches and excellent customer service skills - NOT those happy to charge for a substandard service in tatty and uncomfortable minibuses.

10  Thank JockyB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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