Terms & Conditions

Please note: certain departures were eligible for special terms and conditions relating to the COVID-19 pandemic. These terms have expired for new bookings.

Terms & Conditions for The Society of International Railway Travelers, Inc. tours 

These terms and conditions govern the relationship between client and The Society of International Railway Travelers, Inc. (“IRT”).  All terms and conditions herein apply to both IRT and its parent company, Hardy Publishing Co., Inc. (“HPC”).  IRT and HPC are collectively referred to herein as IRT, and any reference to IRT shall also be deemed a reference to HPC. 

1. How to Book: Call us at 800-478-4881 (1-502-897-1725 outside the US/Canada); e-mail us tourdesk@irtsociety.com; or reserve your spot. We will confirm availability and deposit amount. For most tours, a courtesy hold of approximately 5 days is possible, although some tours require immediate deposit to confirm. Full passport names and dates of birth are required at booking. Your name must match your government-issued ID.

2. Prices/Forms of Payment for Deposit:All prices are per person and in U.S. Dollars unless otherwise specified. Deposits can be made by bank transfer, Mastercard, Visa or American Express. (Some European tours may only accept Mastercard and Visa; please inquire.) Some deposits can also be made by certified check. Note: Checks drawn on non-U.S. banks are not accepted.

3. Deposit: Deposit amounts vary. Please see our website or call to confirm amount and terms.

4. Final payment: Most final payments are due 90 days before departure. Final payment for VSOE Istanbul tours is due 180 days before departure. Final payment for Royal Scotsman tours booked after Nov. 1, 2023 is due 120 days before departure. The balance due date will be listed on your invoice. Final payment can be made by bank transfer or credit card. Some suppliers charge a 3% processing fee for final payments made by credit card; please inquire. All payments made by credit card requires a signed authorization. Some tours also accept final payments by certified check (drawn on US bank account). If final payment is not received by the due date, reservation is subject to cancellation. Interim payments beyond the initial deposit or final payment may be accepted for some tours. Please inquire if you wish to make an interim payment; processing fees may apply.

5. Refunds and Cancellations: Notice of any cancellation must be received by IRT in writing. You acknowledge that cancellation penalties vary and are subject to change at any time. You further agree to abide by and be governed by the cancellation penalties in place at the time of any requested cancellation. Please note that IRT must and will enforce cancellation penalties set by our suppliers. All deposits and tour payment are nonrefundable, with the following exceptions:

  • Tours on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, or VSOE (with the exception of Istanbul tours, outlined on following bullet point). & Eastern & Oriental Express are subject to the following cancellation penalties: If canceled 56 days or more prior to departure: 15% of total tour cost; if canceled 55-21 days prior to departure: 30% of tour cost; if canceled 20-3 days prior to departure: 70% of tour cost; if canceled within 2 days of departure or no show: 100% nonrefundable.
  • VSOE Paris-Istanbul and Istanbul-Paris tours are subject to the following cancellation penalties: If canceled 180 days or more prior to departure: 35% of total tour cost; if canceled 179-120 days prior to departure: 50% of tour cost; if canceled 119-90 days prior to departure: 80% of tour cost; if canceled within 90 days of departure or no show: 100% nonrefundable. Final payment for VSOE Istanbul tours is due 180 days prior to departure.
  • Tours on the Belmond Royal Scotsman are subject to the following cancellation penalties:
    Bookings made prior to Nov. 1, 2023: If canceled 56 days or more prior to departure: 15% of total tour cost; if canceled 55-21 days prior to departure: 30% of tour cost; if canceled 20-3 days prior to departure: 70% of tour cost; if canceled within 2 days of departure or no show: 100% nonrefundable.
    Bookings made Nov. 1, 2023 or later:  If canceled 120 days or more prior to departure: 25% of total tour cost; if canceled 119-90 days prior to departure: 50% of tour cost; if canceled 89-30 days prior to departure: 70% of tour cost; if canceled within 30 days of departure or no show: 100% nonrefundable.
  • Rovos Rail journeys: Cancellations more than 91 days prior to departure: 10% of total tour price; if canceled 90-61 days prior to departure: 25% of total tour price; if canceled 60-31 days prior to departure: 50% of total tour price; within 30 days of departure/no shows: 100% cancellation fee. Currency fluctuations will also apply to cancellation of tours priced in South African Rand (i.e. any refund due as a result of cancellation will be calculated based on the rate of exchange at time of cancellation).
  • Tours on the El Transcantábrico or Al-Andalus: A handling fee of $250 US per person will apply to all cancellations and changes in addition to following penalties. All refunds are subject to currency fluctuation adjustments. Cancellations made more than 30 days prior to departure: 15% of total tour cost; cancellations made 30-15 days prior to departure: 25% of total tour cost; cancellations made 14-5 days prior to departure: 50% of total tour cost; cancellations made 4-1 days prior to departure: 80% of total tour cost; less than 24 hours prior to departure: 100% nonrefundable.

All percentages based on total trip cost with supplier.
All programs are subject to any revised terms and conditions of the suppliers.
All tours: No refunds will be made in the event of “no-shows” or cancellations the day of tour. No refund will be given for unused portions of the tour. All payments for custom extra services are nonrefundable. A printed version of your tour’s cancellation policy will be mailed, faxed or e-mailed upon request. Please note that every effort has been made to ensure accuracy wherever our terms and conditions appear. IRT reserves the right to correct errors and omissions. All programs are subject to the terms and conditions of the suppliers, which may be revised at any time.

6. Occupancy: If occupancy of a cabin or tour changes from double to single, the remaining passenger will be responsible for the supplement and/or difference in total cabin/tour cost. The canceling passenger will be subject to the above penalties. Depending on the tour, a name change may be possible; please inquire. All name changes are subject to a minimum $250 fee. Name changes must be requested prior to final payment.

7. Passport/visas:It is urgent that you provide your full and correct passport name upon booking and follow up with a color copy of the picture page of your passport. A passport valid for six months after your return is required for most trips. Some destinations require visas. When you book, be sure you have enough blank pages for insertion of visas. Passengers must ensure that they obtain all the necessary documentation and visas prior to departure and allow adequate time to do so. The Society of International Railway Travelers (IRT) assumes no responsibility for passengers refused entry into a country for incorrect documentation. Any repatriation charges will be the responsibility of the passenger. It is your responsibility to check your number of pages and visas to ensure that they have been issued properly with your correct personal details and entry/exit dates. IRT takes no responsibility for a country’s refusal to admit passengers for any reason.

8. Insurance: We recommend trip cancellation insurance to help protect your travel investment. Some suppliers require emergency medical and/or evacuation insurance. We are required to document this coverage or your reservation is subject to cancellation by the supplier. Medical/evacuation insurance is required for journeys on the Golden Eagle, Shangri-La Express, Danube Express, Deccan Odyssey, Pride of Africa, Maharajas’ Express and Deccan Odyssey. This coverage may be required on other journeys not listed here; if medical/evacuation coverage is required for your journey, you will be advised at time of booking. After you book a trip (or prior if requested), we will send information about Travelex or RoamRight tour insurance. (Click here for a quote, or to purchase RoamRight Insurance;  Click here for a quote, or to purchase Travelex Insurance). We recommend insuring your full trip cost in order to be eligible for the waiver of pre-existing medical conditions exclusion. To qualify for this pre-existing waiver, the travel protection plan must be purchased within 21 days of deposit (if purchasing RoamRight coverage) or 15 days of deposit (if purchasing a Travelex Select policy). We do not, however make any representations here regarding what is or is not covered by any policy you purchase.  The terms of any insurance policy you purchase are governed exclusively by the terms of the policy issued to you by the insurance carrier. URGENT: It is your responsibility to notify your insurance company to increase your coverage if your trip cost or dates change. Please note that this includes any fluctuations in exchange rate if your journey is not charged in US Dollars.

9. Minimum Participants:Most tours require a minimum number of passengers. If the number of passengers drops below the minimum number required, suppliers reserve the right to cancel the tour, increase the cost of the tour, or to postpone the tour until a future date. Air tickets should be fully refundable and/or changeable if you book them before we notify you that your trip is confirmed.  IRT cannot take responsibility for changes or cancellations in air ticketing for any reason.

10. Prices: While every effort is made to adhere to published prices, IRT and/or its suppliers reserve the right to adjust prices in the event of significant changes to currency rates and/or fuel prices at any time. For trips priced in foreign currency, the exact tour cost will depend upon the value of the U.S. dollar at time payments are made.

11. Price does not include: Airfare; passport/visa fees; laundry; phone calls; meals and alcoholic beverages not specifically listed; optional excursions; services other than those specifically listed; accident, sickness, trip cancellation/interruption and/or baggage insurance; and excess baggage charges. Price does not always include gratuities. Please inquire if you have questions regarding these terms.

12. Extra charges/fees:In order to provide extraordinary personal service, we require requests for custom services be submitted well in advance of travel. Please note that retainer, deposit and final payment for extra services are nonrefundable. An extensive, individualized itinerary requires a nonrefundable retainer. Please ask for an appointment with our concierge team to go over details and advantages of our custom services. If final documents are required more than 4 weeks in advance of departure, a $50 expedited document fee applies. If overnight delivery of documents is required, a fee of $50 will be applied. All documents requiring FedEx delivery outside continental US costs $75. All custom services requested after final payment are not changeable. Cancelled hotel bookings are subject to a $100 fee per hotel.

13. Short Notice Travel: Some tours, particularly those including hotel nights, may not be available to book within 30 days of departure. We reserve the right to refuse to book a tour if we do not feel that we are able to provide the best possible service within the time allowed. All bookings made between 60 and 46 days before departure are subject to a $250 late booking fee. If booking is made within 45 days of departure, a $350 late booking fee applies.

14. Baggage:Baggage is taken at owner’s risk throughout the trip. Please note that baggage limitations vary from airline to airline. Luggage handling on our trips is limited to one larger bag and one carry-on. (NOTE: Not all tours include luggage handling. Please inquire if this is a prerequisite for your journey.) Check with your airline for weight and size limitations. Private transfers, luggage shipping, and baggage handling to/from the airport and between hotels (when not included) can be arranged at additional cost.

15. Photography: IRT reserves the right to take photographs or videos during any tour or part thereof, and use the resulting image for publication, including promotional purposes in any of our publications or website. By booking a tour with IRT, participants agree to allow their image to be used for such purposes; participants who prefer that their image not be used must inform our office, in writing, upon booking. By sending us your photos from your trips, you are giving express permission to publish them in all of IRT’s forms of communication, including but not limited to our website, blogs, social media, and all digital and printed communication.

16. Medical: You must report in writing at the time of booking any medical condition that may require special attention. All IRT trips require walking on the trains/ships and during tours. You must let us know, for example, if you have asthma, use a cane or wheelchair. This allows us to plan for your needs if it is possible to do so. On some tours, we regret it may not be possible. Most rail programs, many of them on antique trains with narrow corridors, are not wheelchair-accessible; some tours are not suitable for people with certain heart or lung conditions because of altitude. Please check with us before booking. We will assist in finding a holiday suitable to your situation. Passengers should check with their physician/doctor before departure as to which inoculations are considered necessary or recommended for your destination. Flexibility, a sense of humor and the ability to walk unassisted will be essential. The tour leader, train or cruise manager has the right to disqualify any participant at any time during the tour if he/she feels the participant is physically incapable and/or if a participant’s continued participation will jeopardize the safety or enjoyment of either the individual involved or the other passengers or staff. There will be no refund given under these circumstances and return travel home will be at the participant’s expense. If your health changes after booking, and you do not inform us, or if you were not truthful about your fitness for a tour, you are subject to removal from the tour on your own arrangements. IRT unfortunately will not accept your future bookings. No refunds will be given under these circumstances.

17. Responsibility: The Society of International Railway Travelers, Inc., (IRT) and its parent company, Hardy Publishing Co., Inc. (HPC), act only as agents for the passenger with respect to travel services. We choose experienced suppliers and ground operators to partner with; however, IRT does not own or operate any of the services or accommodations for your trip. As a result, IRT is not responsible for, and you (passengers booking tours through IRT) release and forever discharge IRT from, all liability to passengers attributable to the negligence or gross negligence of IRT arising out of or based upon any negligent or willful act, omission, or failure to act of any such supplier or any other third party over whom IRT has no control, including but not limited to financial default of the supplier. Arrangements for the tours are made many months in advance and occasionally changes have to be made. IRT assumes no responsibility nor liability in whole or in part for any delays, delayed or changed departure or arrival, missed carrier connections, loss, expense or damage related to weather, pandemic, epidemic, strikes, acts of God, circumstances beyond our control, force majeure, war, terrorism, quarantine, criminal activity, accident, sickness, injury or death to person or property, or mechanical defect, failure, or negligence or financial default of any nature whatsoever in connection with any accommodations, restaurant, transportation or other services, for any substitution of hotels or of common carrier equipment beyond our control, with or without notice, or for any additional expenses occasioned thereby. If due to weather, flight schedules or other uncontrollable factors, you are required to spend any additional time in a particular location, you will be responsible for your own expenses (including but not limited to hotel, transfers and meal costs). IRT highly recommends arriving into the first city one day before the tour begins in order to allow for any air delays. The trains will depart without you. IRT also does not recommend arranging nonrefundable air until your trip is a confirmed departure. Further, double-check your tour arrival/departure date when booking flights. No refund will be made for any unused portion of the tour due to these causes or voluntary cancellations. Baggage is at the owner’s risk entirely. No revisions of the printed itinerary or the “included” items are anticipated; however, IRT reserves the right to make changes at any time and for any reason, with or without notice, and IRT shall not be liable for any loss whatsoever to passengers by reason of such cancellation, substitution or changes. All fares as well as ship and train schedules, port calls, hours of arrival and departure, special programs, tour leader, and guest lecture series (if applicable), are subject to change without prior notice. IRT shall not be required to refund any portion of the fare or make any other compensation under these circumstances. IRT cannot be responsible for penalties assessed by air carriers that may result due to operational and/or itinerary changes, regardless if the passenger and/or IRT makes the flight arrangements. The individual passenger will pay any additional expenses resulting from the above. IRT reserves the right to substitute a similar category/hotel for those listed in this brochure. IRT reserves the right to increase the tour price in the event of cost increases due to changes in airfares or train fares, changes in the itinerary, currency fluctuations, fuel surcharges. When issued, the air tickets shall constitute the sole contract between the airline concerned and the purchaser of these tours and/or passenger. Please note that airfares are subject to change before ticketing. The airlines, trains and other transportation companies concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or events during the time passengers are not on board their conveyances. IRT and our suppliers reserve the right to decline to accept or retain any person on a tour should such a person’s health, mental condition, physical infirmity or attitude jeopardize the operation of the tour or the rights, welfare or enjoyment of other participants, tour guides, IRT or train/cruise/hotel staff. The United States Department of State issues travel alerts and warnings regarding certain countries when the U.S. Department of State wants travelers to consider very carefully whether they should go to a country at all. These alerts and warnings are available on the website of the U.S. Department of State and should be consulted by passengers prior to undertaking contemplated travel.

18. Conduct and Behavior: Passengers are expected to behave courteously and graciously toward IRT staff, other passengers, train staff and any person with whom we have contact during our tour. Courtesy includes dressing appropriately throughout the tour, being on time/punctual for outings, sharing the front seat of touring buses and not talking while tour guides are talking. If, in the opinion of the tour/train/cruise manager, a passenger behaves in a way likely to disrupt the enjoyment or endanger the safety of other passengers, the tour/train/cruise manager reserves the right to terminate said passenger’s holiday arrangements, without notice. The passenger will have to make his/her own arrangements to return home at his/her own expense. No refunds for the untraveled portion of the tour will be entertained. The right is retained to refuse any application for reservation(s), cancel any reservation(s) or decline to accept or retain any person as a member of the tour group at any time.

19. Acceptance of terms:Payment (deposit, interim or final) by any means indicates that participants have read and accepted all stated IRT terms and conditions, including, but not limited to, all cancellation penalties and fees, and requirement for travel insurance on certain tours. By forwarding of payment by any means, the passenger certifies that he/she does not have any mental, physical or other condition of disability that would create a hazard for him/herself or other passengers and accepts the terms of this contract.

20. Optional Activities that may be Dangerous: Optional activities furnished by independent suppliers will be available on some itineraries. Some of these activities carry with them the inherent risk of serious personal injury. These activities include, but are not necessarily limited to: canoe/boat trips, white-water rafting and river cruises; walking safaris; horseback/elephant back/camel safaris; locomotive foot-plate rides, cab rides or photo run-bys; hot-air balloon rides; helicopter rides; scuba diving; shark diving. You should be aware that your safety cannot be guaranteed. Should you elect to participate in such activities while you are on tour, you are of course, free to do so. However, such participation will be at your own risk; IRT assumes no responsibility for your safety.

21. Indemnification: You agree to indemnify, hold harmless, and defend IRT, our affiliates, and our respective officers, directors, agents, employees, independent contractors, successors, and permitted assigns, from any and all claims, demands, losses, causes of action, damage, lawsuits, penalties, fines, costs, or expenses of actions, judgments, settlements, interest, awards, penalties, fines, costs, or expenses of whatever kind, including attorneys’ fees and costs incurred by us, arising out of, or relating to, a claim by any third-party claim involving: (a) breach of any of your representations, warranties, or covenants contained in these terms and conditions; (b) your failure to comply with any applicable federal, state or local laws, regulations, or codes; (c) any claims arising out of your participation in the travel or travel arranged and services rendered by IRT or any supplier. We shall give prompt written notice to you after obtaining knowledge of any losses or discovery of facts on which we intend to base a request for indemnification and provide you with reasonable cooperation and assistance as you may request in the defense of such suit. Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Section, we may select our own legal counsel to represent our interests, and you shall: (a) reimburse us for our costs and attorneys’ fees immediately upon request as they are incurred; and (b) remain responsible to us any Losses indemnified.

22. Limitation of Liability: You agree to the following: In no event will IRT be liable to you or to any third party for any loss of use, revenue or profit, or for any special, consequential, incidental, indirect, exemplary or punitive losses, costs, damages, or expenses (“Damages”), regardless of whether the Damages were foreseeable and regardless of whether or not we have been advised of the possibility of such Damages, and notwithstanding the failure of any agreed or other remedy of its essential purpose. We will not be liable for any claim or demand made against you, the Client, by any third party.  You will not hold us liable for actions made while acting as your agent.  IRT shall not be responsible for any injuries, damages, or losses caused to any traveler in connection with any terrorist activities, social or labor unrest, mechanical or construction failures or difficulties, diseases, pandemics, local laws, climatic conditions, criminal acts or abnormal conditions or developments, or any other acts, omissions, or conditions outside the control of IRT. Traveler assumes complete and full responsibility for, and hereby releases IRT from, any duty related to the checking and verifying of any and all passport, visa, vaccination, or other entry requirements of each destination, and all safety or security conditions at such destinations, during the length of the proposed travel.  By embarking upon his/her travel, the traveler voluntarily assumes all risks involved in such travel, whether expected or unexpected.  Traveler is hereby warned of such risks, and is advised to obtain appropriate insurance coverage against them. Traveler’s retention of tickets, reservations, or bookings after issuance shall constitute full and informed consent to the above, and an agreement on his/her part to convey the contents hereto to his/her travel companions or group members.

23. Complaints: IRT’s mission is to offer the very best in travel around the globe—by rail, land or sea. However, if you have a complaint during your journey, please tell your tour manager right away. Should the problem remain unresolved, please call or e-mail us. (tourdesk@irtsociety.com). Or write to the Society of IRT at 2424 Frankfort Ave., Suite #2, Louisville, KY 40206. We cannot consider any claim received more than two months of completion of your journey. We also cannot tender any refunds for any reason outside the terms set forth above. All claims will be settled by arbitration in Louisville, Kentucky.

24. COVID-19 Travel Waiver: By agreeing to these Terms and Conditions, you acknowledge that due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and for other reasons that may not be reasonably foreseeable at this time, these travel plans may be interrupted or canceled by the supplier that is providing them, a government entity, or another third party over which IRT has no control.  You further acknowledge that the supplier’s own cancellation, rebooking and refund policies, subject to any applicable law that is now or may later be in effect, will govern your rights and remedies, including your right to receive a refund, in such an event.  Moreover, you understand that should you elect to purchase travel insurance, the terms of the policy will dictate whether, and to what extent, coverage for any financial loss may exist under the circumstances.  By signing either on paper or digitally, you hereby agree to hold IRT harmless and unconditionally release IRT from any and all liability for any damages or claims, both known and unknown, including but not limited to monetary losses, that may incur as a result of such interruption or cancellation of, arising out of or connected in any way to these travel plans.

By agreeing to these Terms and Conditions, you agree that Delaware law, without regard to principles of conflicts of laws, will govern these Terms and Conditions, and any dispute of any sort that might arise between you and IRT.

California Seller of Travel #2139952-40; Florida Seller of Travel #ST42020; Iowa Certificate of Travel #1563; Washington State Seller of Travel #604397185