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Pat FT

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Everything posted by Pat FT

  1. I would have been more forgiving if there had been no flights that would have allowed the narrative to be true. Our major problem with our trip to the Galapagos was on the first day. We were not told what we would be doing that day until 36 hours prior to the start of our post cruise extension. Instead of being flown to Guayaquil at a reasonable hour and having the afternoon to enjoy Guayaquil and an evening group dinner at the hotel as promised, we were given another tour of Valparaiso (which we had done the day before) and a tour of a winery in Casablanca valley which was the same winery that several people in our group had toured the day before on an optional excursion with Viking. We did not fly out to Guayaquil until 8 pm and arrived at midnight with an 8 am flight out the next morning to Baltra Island. There were flights that would have gotten us to Guayaquil earlier but those were more costly, so the tour operator chose to keep us in Chile for the day and fly us out on the less expensive flight that night. So in our case the narrative for day one of our post cruise extension was completely inaccurate and hence my major complaint to Viking. Don't get me wrong I love Viking and have traveled with them many times with no problems and in this case when I complained they did compensate us for the misrepresentation.
  2. The day we arrived in Guayaquil and the day we left the Galapagos and arrived in Quito in no way matched the narratives on the Viking site. I complained to Viking about this several times and to many many people. We did get small compensation from Viking for the misrepresentation. Lesson learned and I no longer trust the Viking narratives as much as I once did. Our flight from Baltra Island didn't leave until around 1:30. We didn't get to Quito until after 5 and didn't get to the hotel until 7:00 pm. Many people with us had flights out around mid-night. They got to the hotel in time to turn around and head back to the airport. They had to go to the hotel because that was where their extra luggage was being stored as we could only take bags that were under 50 pounds and met certain size limits to the Islands.(My husband and I took all our luggage with us to the Islands as our bags met the requirements). As far as bags go, we claimed our checked bags when we got to the lsland and walked it through the customs at the airport. Once through we took it to a truck and did not see it again until we got to the hotel. When we left the Island we put our bags outside our room and did not see them again until we got to the airport in Baltra. There we had to check them in. Once in Quito we pick them up and took them to the bus. We took our bags to our room at the hotel as we didn't want to wait for concierge to get them to our room as it was late. Hopefully Viking changes the Quito hotel as it is an hour or more from the airport. It is supposed to be in an interesting area of Quito but with arriving so late and having to leave so early we didn't have any time to enjoy the area and the long ride on a bus, just to do it again in a few hours is a total waste of time. Hope this information helps Pat
  3. We did the Galapagos extension with Viking after our South American cruise in January. A few things I can tell you. The sun is intense and there is no shade on most islands. Sunscreen, hat and water are musts. The locals wear long pants and long sleeved shirts both in light colors and breathable fabrics. The also have cotton neck gators to protect the lower part of their faces from the sun. I was very happy I had along hiking pants and boots, but wished I had the long sleeved shirts the guides had. There was a weight limit for suitcases going to the Galapagos and we had to fill out a questionnaire about what we had with us. There was nothing about plastic and I had plastic bags, medicine bottles and other plastics with me. None of these were a problem and we were staying on Santa Cruz Island so they were on the island with me. They asked me about my hiking boots and where I had been with them but never looked at them. They seem concerned about whether on not I had been hiking in the rainforest, which I have not been to. I told them I had hiked in Patagonia and that didn't seem to be a problem. In packing remember when arriving in Galapagos, you will land on Baltra Island, take a bus to a small boat of some sort then most likely take that boat to your ship. Best to pack as lightly as possible, especially the item you want to carry on. Viking did a great job handling our checked bags. One other thing I want to mention. On our last day we flew (on an Airbus A319) to Guayaquil then continued on to Quito on the same plane, with about an hour stop in Guayaquil where we did not get off the plane. We arrived in Quito at about 5pm. By the time we got our luggage and got to the bus to take us to the hotel it was 6pm. We had an hour ride to the hotel, so we did not arrive at the hotel until 7pm (well after dark). Most of us had a 5am flight the next morning so we had to leave the hotel at 2am. Not a very nice way to end our vacation when we were expecting to see some of Quito. Enjoy your trips to the Galapagos. They are amazing islands and we had an unforgettable experience there. Hope this helps Pat
  4. I second SM77 post that you look at "Live from Jupiter" board. I found her posts most helpful when we were planning our trip and so after our trip I posted reviews of the excursions we took. Most of our excursions were optional ones offered by Viking. I will highly recommend a private excursion we did in Valparaiso. It is call Patatour Chile and we were able to tour Valparaiso with a local using local transportation and saw many sights that no one else on the cruise was able to see such as the fish market and fruit market. We also got to meet many locals along the way. That tour cost $60/person. We also did the pre tour in Patagonia and the post tour in Galapagos. The Patagonia tour was fantastic and very much one of the highlights of the whole trip. The Galapagos was too much traveling for what we saw and I would not recommend it.
  5. On our cruise we had one rough sea day, the day we went between the Falklands and Cape Horn. We had "ideal" conditions going around Cape Horn. The crew claimed it was the best weather they had seen going around the Horn. It was windy and cloudy with some light rain and rainbows at times, but the sea were too bad. The day before had been much rougher. We could see the lighthouse and monument at the southern part of the Cape. As far as seeing animals, we saw many more animals on our Patagonia pre-extension and our Galapagos post extension. While on the cruise we did see penguins, condors and guanacos in Punta Tombo. We saw lots of different sea birds, one pod of dolphins, and one otter while on the ship. We also saw sea lions in Valparaiso. I have been to both Alaska and Norway and this cruise while in the fjords and around Ushuaia is very similar in scenery to both of those. The lakes district in Chile (Puerto Montt area) is very similar to Oregon and Washington with all the volcanos. The Argentine side around Punta Madryn is a huge desert and not very scenic, but that is where a lot of the animals we saw are located. As far as the cost with so many sea days goes... I liked learning about all the culture and history of the area and seeing what that area of the world was like for myself. Hope this helps you make your decision about whether to book this cruise or not. Pat
  6. The sea days question is tough to answer. I like sea days. I found plenty to do on board between lectures, trivia, spa, dome, food and etc. A couple we traveled with didn't like the sea days and as a result found the trip pretty boring. So it is all in what you like. The fjords were very pretty. One issue that came up for us was one of the days that was listed as scenic fjord cruising found us out to sea a lot of the day. This was because there is an area in the fjords where there is no way to get through and the ship has to leave the fjords, go around a point and re-enter the fjords. Lots of people grumbled about not being in fjords at that point...I will say once we re-entered the fjords it was some of the most beautiful cruising I have ever done. This is a view from when we re-entered the fjords Pat
  7. We just returned from this trip and since I found all the posts here to be helpful in planning our trip I thought I would add a few reviews of my own. First we did the Patagonia Pre-extension. Great extension! We had a fantastic guide, Andrea, and we saw so many beautiful sights. I highly recommend! Buenos Aires: We did the bike tour. I think it should go without saying that if you choose this tour you should be able to ride a bike...apparently some on our trip didn't get that message, but that aside it was a great way to see the city. We road on bike trails and bike lanes and some sidewalks. Montevideo: We did the included tour first which was a typical Viking included city tour. We did have a very good guide who when he wasn't giving tours was a history teacher, so he was very knowledgeable. We then did the winery tour. Our guide started with a repeat tour of the city (to the point that I wondered if we were on the right tour) and then to the winery. It was a very nice winery with good wines and also included a delicious spread of nibbles. One change I would make on the day is not to book two tours. Town is close enough to walk in and explore on your own and I would have loved the opportunity to do that. Puerto Madryn: We did the Punto Tombo tour. Great tour as we saw lots and lots and lots (think thousands) of Magellanic Penguins. Following the visit to the penguins we had a big lunch with included wine.. Yes the bus ride was long but it was so worth it. Our ship didn't land in the Falklands due to high winds Ushuaia: Since we skipped Falklands we got into Ushuaia in the evening and spent the night docked at the port. We were able to stroll into town that evening and sample the local beer. Lots of shops and even a Hard Rock Cafe for those that collect those shirts. The next day I went horseback riding. The trail was more challenging than ones I have been on in the States. Luckily the horse knew where to walk and we did fine. My husband did the hike. They gave them rubber boots for the hike as they walked though a marsh area. He thought the hike was beautiful. We had planned to go back into town that afternoon but the weather turned and we had extremely strong winds and rain. We tried to go out but only made it to the end of the pier. Punta Arenas: We did the hike where we took the ski lift up and hiked down. It is very windy there so it was a windy ride up an old ski lift. Very nice hike after somewhat scary ride up. It is pretty steep, so not recommended for people with knee problems. Afterwards we walked into town on our own. There had been riots in town the night before and much damage had been done. Town was not very exciting. Puerto Montt: Puerto Montt is a pretty poor town and it didn't look like much to see in that town. We did the emerald lake cruise and we had an absolutely beautiful day for the cruise. The lake was incredible. The only complaint I had was we had 8 buses of people on the tour and it made the boat and especially the walk to the falls very crowded. We did split up for lunch in Puerto Vargas and only had two buses per restaurant. We had lunch at a very nice restaurant with a beautiful lake front view. Valparaiso: We did a private tour by Patatours. Best tour of the whole trip! Cristian took us all over town, using public transportation. We started at the fish market where we were welcomed by all the fishermen and people working in the stalls, then we went to the fruit market where we ended up helping one of the restaurants shell beans for the day. They gave us small bowls of their fish soup in exchange. After lunch at a local non touristy restaurant we did a walking tour of the upper part of the city. Cristian was raised in that part of the town and it was great to have a tour from someone who knew the people and area so well. Post Excursion: Galapagos. I loved the islands and the time we spent there but I would not recommend doing this excursion. We traveled to both Guayaquil and Quito but never saw either one. We arrived at both late at night and left early in the morning. It was a lot of travel for no return. Also the hotel was wonderful but being in a hotel meant a lot of travel each day to get to another island to see a different set of animals. If I were to do the Galapagos again I would defiantly do it by cruise. Hope this helps others with your planning. We loved the trip and found South America to be very unique and interesting. Pat
  8. Thank you for all your great posts. We are boarding on Jan 7th and I am finding all your posts to be extremely helpful in planning our trip.
  9. We have been to Seward three times and Seward is a very beautiful small city with a free bus shuttle and inexpensive taxis. Booking an excursion on your own would be pretty easy. The Alaska SeaLife center is the included excursion and it is a wonderful but very small aquarium that focuses on research. I would highly recommend an extra tour if you choose to go there (ie behind the scenes, or an encounter such as the sea otter encounter). We have had the privilege of going on two different tours with Kenai Fjords National Park Tour and both were fantastic. We saw whales, sea lions, otters and glaciers. The buffet meal on Fox Island which was included in some of their trips is very good also. We have also gone sea kayaking with Sunny Cove Kayaking and they have been incredible trips. We kayaked next to a flock of puffins and right by an eagle eating its catch. I can't really speak to the other ports as it has been a long time since we visited those ports except to say they are all beautiful. Hope this information helps
  10. Still on the fence about going to Volunteer Point. I love penguins but hate off roading. It seems there may be other opportunities to see penguins both in Falklands and other ports. I am curious as to what makes Volunteer Point so special and should I consider going since I hate off roading (and chopped eggs...but I could get a boxed lunch on the ship to avoid the dreaded chopped egg 🙂 ) Also Zdiva my husband and I will be on the Jan 7th trip with you.
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