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CelticMutt

Live from the Orion - Sydney to Auckland - 2/10/19

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I have done a couple of “live” reviews on previous Viking River cruises, but haven’t made an attempt on a Viking Ocean. (Although we were on the Sea last year from Barcelona to Venice. Too lazy!!)

So as long as my stamina holds up and the Wi-Fi connection remains firm, I’ll try to step in every day or two and fill you in on my impressions of the cruise.

As I write this I am sitting in Dallas Fort Worth Airport waiting for our 17 hour flight to Hong Kong. After a four hour layover in Hong Kong we have the seven hour trip to Cairns for our pre-cruise extension.

We splurged on the trip and the entire flight program is in Business so the flights won’t be as bad as they could be.

Very much looking forward to Australia and New Zealand plus being on Viking Ocean again. We had a ball last time out and have also loved our ventures on the Viking River Cruises.

( I have posted a couple of “live“ reviews from our two previous River outings. A number of years ago, but you can still find them with a CelticMutt search.)

I have found that the immediacy of posting while cruising adds a lot to the information (either that or just lets my long-winded nature have its way!!)

Talk to you all from Cairns!

Santé

Bill

 

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Have a great cruise. I will be interested in what you think of the ship and Viking Ocean in general. We are boarding in Auckland on Feb 24 at the end of your cruise, our first Viking cruise. 

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Have a wonderful trip, from someone not far from DFW.  We were on the Orion from Auckland to Sydney for 14 nights, including NYE, and had a wonderful time.  Looking forward to following your posts.

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 We Arrived safely in Port Douglas at about 11 o’clock in the morning. Room wasn’t ready yet, but we had lunch and then were able to check in.

The hotel and grounds are  (were)  Beautiful, but are becoming a bit shabby. Sheraton just took over the property and hopefully will make some improvements. We upgraded to a swim out pool room, and the pool floor was so dirty with algae that it was actually slippery. The grounds are beautiful and extensive, but it means doing a fair amount of walking so  be warned if ambulation is a bit of a problem. We did the Braintree Rain forest tour yesterday. Might as well have been me Braintree deluge forest! We got soaked but their experience was wonderful and the indigenous local guide was excellent!

 Just a note that cocktails in the hotel or a ludicrously expensive. A namebrand martini during happy hour was $24Australian (18 American) and was limited to a ounce and a half!

We went into town for dinner last night at 2 Fish for bug tails - basically big crawfish - in a curry cream sauce.  Wonderful!

Waiting for the excursion to start, but no Viking representative to give us any information! Come on guys!

 Off to the great barrier reef excursion. Will fill you in more when we get back.

 

Slainte!

Bill

 

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40 minutes ago, CelticMutt said:

 We did the Braintree Rain forest tour yesterday. Might as well have been me Braintree deluge forest! We got soaked but their experience was wonderful and the indigenous local guide was excellent!

 J

 

 

Welcome to Australia.

 

Unfortunately many places in north Queensland and northern Australia have had record rainfalls in recent days / weeks - in some areas the rainfall levels are the highest on record. It is the wet season, but it has been extremely wet.

 

You may find the trip to the GBR today to be a little rough. The Daintree River has been in flood for a couple of weeks on and off and roads in the area have been cut so you may have been lucky to see the Daintree area at all.

 

Hopefully the weather improves for you.

 

https://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/cairns/cyclone-potential-for-easing-monsoon-as-cape-communities-wait-for-supplies-to-come-in/news-story/25734b4f67baa1e443076e177dd672b2

Edited by Little Monty
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We were up early this morning for our buffet breakfast and then headed to the buses for our 10 minute trip to the marina and to pick up the Quicksilver excursion to the Great Barrier Reef. 

We are experienced snorkelers and were really looking forward to seeing the sea life in this portion of the world. And at least now we can say we snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef. But that’s about it! It was crowded; visibility was poor; they strongly suggested wearing full body Lycra suits (which sucked!) and the whole experience was extremely commercialized! We have had the luxury of snorkeling in the Cook and Society Islands (French Polynesia) and there is absolutely no comparison.  The boat was packed because China is having their lunar New Year Holiday and the crowding detracted from the experience as well.

 I would not do it again, other than to say I snorkeled here. Much better idea would be to do a private charter. 

We have to have luggage outside the door by 6:15 AM tomorrow so we’ll just eat at the hotel tonight. Very much looking forward to getting on the ship tomorrow afternoon. Flights at 12 noon and we arrive in Sydney at 4 PM, losing an hour in the way) so we’ll just eat at the hotel tonight. Very much looking forward to getting on the ship tomorrow afternoon. Flights at 12 noon and we arrive in Sydney at 4 PM (losing an hour on the way). 

All in all, I think I personally would take a pass on this pre-cruise excursion given the expense and the mediocre reef outing which is why we did it in the first place. (But then again, I’m crotchety old man!) 

Na zdrowie!

Bill

(PS: Incidentally, I know I sound a bit negative at times, but I think it’s valuable to give both the positive and negative aspects of a trip!) 1CF97661-E202-4F41-8D32-06FE6A1A60BA.thumb.jpeg.b45f41e2b90549ace83bb14321a1a4eb.jpeg

0945B255-A5A1-4AE6-A732-71B79D1A9D52.jpeg

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You’ve really struck awful weather and remnants of a 100 year flood in places, plus Lunar New Year. Not the best time of the year to see FNQ. 

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Celticmutt, thank you so much for posting from your trip! I will be anxiously awaiting your postings. We get on the Orion on Feb 24 when you get off and we are sailing all the way to Bali. We decided to skip the GBR based on recent reviews and you have made me happy with my decision. $600 is a lot of money to be disappointed. Thanks again!!

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 We are waiting for our bus to the airport. Hundred people from Viking trying to get on three buses with a ton of luggage. Does the expression “cluster intercourse” sound right!? 

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Well, not from Cairns, but all the way from our northernmost stop at the Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Port Douglas. 

We arrived at about 11 o’clock in the morning yesterday and after lunch were asigned our rooms. The resort was recently purchased by Sheraton and while it’s pretty, there’s also a bit of shabbiness about the place.  A couple of the pools – especially the one right outside our room (we splurged for a swim out room) were actually green with algae on the bottom.

Also, the place is very much spread out without any kind of provided transportation, so there’s a lot of walking involved.  It’s also a bit pricey. Dinner last night was provided along with a single glass of wine, but a martini during happy hour was AU$18! 

After a very nice buffet breakfast this morning we made the 20 minute kry excited about this whole day excursion! I’ll try to fill y’all in a bit more after the fact.

 

Prosit!,

Bill 

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A bit about our travels from Cairns to Sydney. I’ve done a lot of plane travel in my life - both business and pleasure, but for some reason I’ve never had the pleasure of flying Qantas.  I would selectively choose the airline again in a heartbeat.  Service was super!  (See; I can be kind!)

However, post luggage pickup was an even worse cluster... well, you know!

There were over 100 Viking passengers on the flight and it took well over an hour after collecting luggage standing in line waiting for the three busses to the ship. (We were last in the line because our luggage was last off the belt.) Luggage was loaded onto the bus solely by each driver  which was kind of ridiculous since they were separating us from our luggage anyway.  They don’t have porters at Sydney airport!  A much better plan would have been to bring a separate truck to the airport for the luggage and just load the passengers onto the buses. To make a long story short, we had to have our luggage out side the room In Cairns  at 6:15 and we arrived in our room at the ship at 6:15 -  12 hours of travel and nonsense!

OK, that was the bad news. Good news was the ship is wonderful – much as we remember the Viking Star. Had dinner at Manfredi’s and it was superb!

Doing an “extra” excursion this AM to the opera house and Biondi Beach.  Will report later.

we have an aft cabin (5111) and we are really loving it! The views and the extra air circulation makes the choice well worthwhile. 

Just an aside here.  I know that some of my posts can appear a bit negative. But I can use up this space telling you how wonderful the mushroom soup was at the restaurant last night (it was!), but I’d sooner point out some of the areas that need work.  Viking management reads this stuff and I’d sooner use the forum to provide feedback on some of the stuff that needs work.  

Cin cin!,

Bill

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Sorry about the double post! Dunno how it happened!😁

 As I said earlier, we had booked the opera house and Bondi Beach tour for this morning. 

Basically this tour is the included excursion plus an hour stop at the opera house. 

 The opera house (truly is spectacular!) is well worth the excursion price. Bondi beach - eh! We had originally opted for the included tour for this afternoon but decided just to hang by the pool on such a lovely day! A very good thing because we would just be seeing the same things I second time. So the main point of my post here is if you’re taking the opera house/beach tour don’t worry about doing the included Sydney City tour.

 It is so nice to be back on Viking. And since we were on the Star for 11 days and the set up is virtually identical, it truly does feel like “home“. The service is outstanding and the personnel bend over backwards to accommodate. 

We are sitting at the pool as I write this with a lovely cold beer! “Mustard” (sic) drill is in an hour and I am debating another dip in the pool – hoping to dry out before we have to go down to our station which is in the Restaurant.  I hate mustard drills!!

We talked to a number of people who did the harbor bridge climb and everyone seemed to love it. We talked to a number of people who did the harbor bridge climb and everyone seemed to love it. Not a fan of heights myself, it wasn’t going to happen for me.  That plus a relatively new titanium hip, but mostly the cowardice! 

Sail away at 6 which should be pretty neat leaving Sidney Harbor!!

Going to hit The Restaurant for dinner tonight.

Food as previous has been excellent.  I’d like to Bring the person that makes the morning croissants home with me!

 In case it hasn’t been obvious I’m dictating this on my iPhone, so some mistakes are going to be inevitable. My apologies!

I’m going to try to post a night picture from our balcony again -  somehow large files are a bit difficult to e-mail and or post. It might be the amount of people using the bandwidth at the same time I’m trying to get things done. 

Kia Ora!

Bill

67F2D270-236D-4E5B-8FB8-4AAF36681D84.jpeg

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Several weeks ago we watched as family sailed from Sydney on a Princess cruise on a live web cam:  webcamsydney.com.    I am waiting right now to watch the Orion sail away.  She is at the pier on the other side of the bridge so should be a lovely site as she sails under the bridge and past the Opera House. 

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18 minutes ago, Ready to Sail! said:

Several weeks ago we watched as family sailed from Sydney on a Princess cruise on a live web cam:  webcamsydney.com.    I am waiting right now to watch the Orion sail away.  She is at the pier on the other side of the bridge so should be a lovely site as she sails under the bridge and past the Opera House. 

 

Fantastic .. well done !!

The webcam on the ship seems to be out of order, but this is a fine substitute. 

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5 minutes ago, Little Monty said:

 

Fantastic .. well done !!

The webcam on the ship seems to be out of order, but this is a fine substitute. 

I’m watching CruiseMapper and she hasn’t left yet and that should have been “sight” of course. It’s also a lovely harbor. Family said it was a beautiful sail away port. 

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Just now, Ready to Sail! said:

I’m watching CruiseMapper and she hasn’t left yet and that should have been “sight” of course. It’s also a lovely harbor. Family said it was a beautiful sail away port. 

 

Yes, we were on board when Orion arrived from Auckland in mid January. It was a beautiful day on a beautiful harbour.

 

The Orion is presently at White Bay which is just a short distance from the harbour bridge. Sunset is 80 minutes away so we might get some twinkling lights on the bridge and in the city as the ship departs (assuming she departs in the next hour). 

Cheers, LM

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Correction .. Orion has departed. My apologies. I think I lost the link and didn't realise.

 

Edited by Little Monty
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7 hours ago, Little Monty said:

 

 

Correction .. Orion has departed. My apologies. I think I lost the link and didn't realise.

 

I saw it all and it was worth waiting out the hour delay.  It was a little after midnight here when she came under the bridge.  You are lucky to have sailed on the Orion and also have access to Sydney Harbor.  You've probably done that sail away a time or two!  When family arrived back in Sydney it was in the wee hours of the morning and it was another beautiful sight with both the city and the ship ablaze in lights.  Hope to experience this ourselves one of these days.   

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3 hours ago, Ready to Sail! said:

I saw it all and it was worth waiting out the hour delay.  It was a little after midnight here when she came under the bridge.  You are lucky to have sailed on the Orion and also have access to Sydney Harbor.  You've probably done that sail away a time or two!  When family arrived back in Sydney it was in the wee hours of the morning and it was another beautiful sight with both the city and the ship ablaze in lights.  Hope to experience this ourselves one of these days.   

 

Thanks RtS. We lived in Sydney in the past (more than 20 years ago now) but we do go back regularly. The harbour area is wonderful.

 

I'm glad you were able to stay up to see the Orion go under the harbour bridge and I hope you get to visit one day. Regards, LM

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4 minutes ago, Little Monty said:

 

Thanks RtS. We lived in Sydney in the past (more than 20 years ago now) but we do go back regularly. The harbour area is wonderful.

 

I'm glad you were able to stay up to see the Orion go under the harbour bridge and I hope you get to visit one day. Regards, LM

 

We plan to go on the Sydney to Bali portion sometime in 2020 or 2021. 

I had gone onto the various Sydney webcams to see what the harbor looked like (this was back in December) and to my surprise and luck, got to see the Orion sailing in (from Bali).   I took a few screenshots so thought I would post them here.

1215831111_20181216VikingORIONarrivingSydneyHarbor.thumb.png.78e6b8009367aa1e9a6767508679c8ae.png1125696872_20181216VikingORIONsailingbySydneyOperaHouseandBridge.thumb.png.16ae38743dd7adf34407de05ce6528a2.png

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11 minutes ago, CCWineLover said:

 

We plan to go on the Sydney to Bali portion sometime in 2020 or 2021. 

I had gone onto the various Sydney webcams to see what the harbor looked like (this was back in December) and to my surprise and luck, got to see the Orion sailing in (from Bali).   I took a few screenshots so thought I would post them here.

1215831111_20181216VikingORIONarrivingSydneyHarbor.thumb.png.78e6b8009367aa1e9a6767508679c8ae.png1125696872_20181216VikingORIONsailingbySydneyOperaHouseandBridge.thumb.png.16ae38743dd7adf34407de05ce6528a2.png

 

Well done. Orion will be back in Sydney on March 9 / 10 and Sun on March 15 / 16 if you want some more webcam entertainment.

 

There is so much more to Australia than just Sydney Harbour of course, but the harbour is a very special place.

Enjoy. LM

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4 hours ago, Ready to Sail! said:

I saw it all and it was worth waiting out the hour delay.  It was a little after midnight here when she came under the bridge.  You are lucky to have sailed on the Orion and also have access to Sydney Harbor.  You've probably done that sail away a time or two!  When family arrived back in Sydney it was in the wee hours of the morning and it was another beautiful sight with both the city and the ship ablaze in lights.  Hope to experience this ourselves one of these days.   

Sydney Harbour arrival and/or departure should be a must do for most cruisers. Have completed many arrivals & departures and in my experience, it is the nicest harbour in the world.

 

Our last departure was in May 2015 during the Vivid Sydney festival of lights and it was spectacular. If you have options on scheduling a cruise, suggest trying to schedule during the festival - 2019 dates, May 24th to June 15th

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 The sail away out of the Sydney Harbor as so well described and pictured above was absolutely breathtaking!  We watched from the back deck right outside the Aquavit Terrace where they were serving some of the seafood offerings from the World Café.  This lead to additional sampling of the sushi being offered inside along with tempura soft shell crab! This changed our eating plans and we decided just to finish off any lingering cravings from World Cafe offerings.

Just a note that the sushi on the ship is simply wonderful!  Great variety and the quality you’d expect from a good Japanese restaurant.  (The Beef WELLINGTON was also damn good!)

Drank wine on the terrace until about 9:30 when the day finally caught up with us.

Got a great night sleep which is a good thing because I’ve come down with a cold! (And you thought I was crotchety before!)

Sea day today with beautiful weather so croissants and pool here we come!

Gesundheit!

Bill

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