Questions About Costa Rica

Our teams in Costa Rica have put together a list of some answers to some of our clients more frequently asked questions specific to Costa Rica, please see our Costa Rica FAQs

Questions About Panama

Our teams in Panama have put together a list of some answers to some of our clients more frequently asked questions specific to Panama, please see our Panama FAQs

Why should I book my tour with you instead of my Travel Agent?

Simply stated, we are the Activities Specialists. Your travel agent is an expert at negotiating the best hotel deals and the best airfare packages; they are absolutely invaluable if you are visiting a foreign country for the first time or are looking for a worry-free vacation.  We love travel agents because it is their expertise that brings you to visit our favorite destination; however, we are experts in our field of work;  customized private tours, activities, sightseeing, adventure tours, yacht charters and anything fun to do on holiday!!   We have built up direct relationships with all of the tour operators directly.  We know the services we provide first-hand, and if anything goes out of the norm, we just pick up the phone and resolve the issue directly.  Your travel agent has those types of connections with the Airlines and your hotel manager; we have that type of relationship with our tour providers.

What about booking with the tour operators directly? Won't I save money?

Actually, we not only save you money, we save you time too!  We offer online discounts that not only beat out the competition; we are able to offer discounts on activities all across Latin America.   How does that help you?  Well, you can spend hours of your valuable time researching all the different tour operators in the country for each individual tour and book with several different operators; or you can save time and money and book with one company who will support you throughout your entire holiday.  From the time you book until you arrive home, you can trust us because we care about your vacation experience.

Is it safe to book with you rather than the tour operator directly?

Not only is it perfectly safe to do so, we provide a higher level of customer service and support throughout the entire country. When booking through each operator individually, you would have to contact several different offices to make each reservation, to resolve any inquiries or concerns, or make changes necessary. When you book with The Real Deal, you can reach the same office no matter where you are or where you want to visit throughout your entire vacation via our toll-free phone number, local phone number or email. As a bonus, our representatives speak English, Spanish, French and a variety of other languages thanks to our international staff.

Is it safe to book on the internet? I am a bit nervous about providing my credit card information online.

Your reservation is much safer online using our encrypted server than purchasing in person or sending copies of your information via email or fax which is required in some countries in Latin America. With our secure payment processing, no human eyes will ever see your information, it is 100% protected from any outside source.

I don't understand how the cash discounts work, what is the final price I will be paying?

Let’s break it down using an example of a tour with the regular public price of $100. If you book in advance with us by leaving a deposit, you can bring that price down to $90.00. We collect only the required deposit to hold your space via credit card, so using this example if we required a $25 deposit, if paying cash you would pay $65 on the day of the tour. If you need to pay credit card, then the balance would be $75. That is a $10 savings if paying cash! Not to worry, there are cash machines on every corner and in Panama they use US currency.

Customer: Why can't I pay for it all now in advance?

There are a few reasons why we opted not to accept full payments, one is that with all the competition out there, many operators are reluctant to let companies offer discounts that cut out of their own sales, or affect contracts made with previous sales brokers to not let others offer lower sales online. By offering 'Cash' discounts, we are able to work around this and offer discounts on many tours that other companies cannot. The other reason is the Banking in some Latin countries are not as easily accepting of e-commerce and do not have the same protections you do in the North American or European banks. Many operators do not have bank accounts that accept online payments without copies of passport and signatures making the booking process itself a huge pain. By us collecting the deposit, both your reservation and your money is secure. When you arrive you will have to pay the balance in person; which is the safest and easiest transaction accepted by all banks.

I don't feel comfortable carrying that much cash around with me, are you sure it is safe?

This is understandable of course, but we would not ask you to carry cash if we did not think it was a safe option. There are cash machines within walking distance of most hotels and on every corner of the larger tourist areas, so you can grab cash right before your tour. Panama uses Balboas, but primarily for coins, the rest of the currency is in US dollars.  Costa Rica uses both Colones and US dollars.   If travelling from another country, most hotels offer decent exchange rates if you cannot get to a bank. If you wish to pull the cash out the day prior, we suggest leaving it in your hotel safe. If you go out for the night, do not carry a lot of cash with you especially if out drinking alcohol, this tends to invite problems. The last option would be to ask the driver of your tour if they could please stop off at a cash machine along the way so you can pull out the sufficient funds. In most cases this is not a problem with the operators, but it is better to be prepared ahead of time.

How will I know my balance that I need to pay when I get there?

We understand you are on vacation so the last thing you want to do is to think about math or anything complex for that matter. We try to make it easy on both you and the operators by putting the balance due in both cash and credit card right on the voucher that you will receive within 24 hours of placing your reservation.  This voucher will have your name, date of the tour, number of participants, meeting on time and instructions, and the balance due in both amounts depending your form of payment (Please note in some cases only cash is accepted on the day of the tour, so you may be asked to call ahead to pay the balance with your credit card). This voucher is for you to print up and take with you to present on the day of the tour. This is basically your boarding pass and you need to have it with you. If you have a smart phone with internet, they do accept a screenshot as well to save on trees.  It is a very simple process we have been using for years, however if you have any questions, the voucher also has contact information for you to call both before you leave, and a local Panama number for when you are already traveling, for any last minute questions or issues.  We are here to help you throughout your trip so you can relax and enjoy your holiday.

How will I know you have received my money and my reservation is confirmed?

Immediately after making the payment with your credit card, you will receive a receipt for your payment showing the amount received and which tour you booked.  Within 24 hours you should receive a second email from us confirming your reservation and a voucher you will need to print up and take with you on the day of your tour. The voucher should have all of the necessary information regarding your tour time, date, and meeting instructions. If you have questions about either of these emails upon receipt, please contact us immediately as it is much easier to fix any errors immediately rather than scramble on the day of the tour and risk missing out.

How do I contact you once I arrive?

Since everyone carries a smart phone these days and Wi-Fi can be found in nearly every café or boutique throughout the country; it is easiest to send us an email.  However if it is something urgent, you can contact us at the numbers listed here.

US & CA TOLL FREE +1-866 321-0497

PANAMA +507 836-6036

COSTA RICA +506 4000-1886

WORLD WIDE +1-210 858-6353


What if I am arriving on a Cruise Ship and it arrives late or not at all?

We honor the same ‘No Port No Pay’ policy that your cruise ship offers. If your itinerary changes at the last minute without prior notification to you, we will refund you in full. This is very similar to the same guarantees that your cruise ships offer you while sailing. Prior to the ship’s sailing, we still require the 36 hour notification. For more details, check out our Cruise Ship FAQ’s.

I paid for the deposit and received my voucher, so how do I get the Cash Discount price?

On your voucher, there will be 2 prices listed of the remaining balance to be paid directly to the operator on the day of the tour. One price is the balance if paying in cash which is the discounted price. The second price is higher because if you choose to pay with a credit card upon arrival the discounts no longer apply in most cases.  Not to worry, there are an abundance of cash machines available so finding access to cash should not be difficult.

What if I want to change or cancel my reservation?

We are happy to assist you with making any changes to your reservation so long as we receive ample time to do so. In general, you can cancel or make changes to your tour time or date up to 36 hours prior to the meeting time of your tour. There are some exceptions that apply that are noted per activity such as overnight tours and private boat charters. Please refer to our Terms & Conditions for the country that you are booked in. 

Costa Rica Terms & Conditions

Panama Terms & Conditions