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CelticMutt

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

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Up early this AM for the Sheep Station and Te Mata Peak excursion leaving at 8:30.

Nice city tour of Napier.  Cool little city because after the earthquake in the 1930s most of the downtown was re-designed into art deco style. Beautiful buildings. We then proceeded up the Te Mata peak for incredible 360° views of the entire local area. Absolutely breathtaking. 

 We then proceeded on to a local sheep ranch (Stations they call them)  for an incredibly cool demonstration of sheepherding by two distinct types of sheep dogs. One does the fine work And looks like a typical border collie mix; one gets the sheep fast moving  and while he had border collie blood in him, he was a little bit bigger and brought him here with a very loud bark! We then went inside for a very cool demonstration of sheep shearing that was done by the sixth generation owner’s son (Actually they are partners).

We made it back to the ship at 1:30 and were greeted by a large portion of the crew lined up outside singing us welcome in front of a fair collection of antique autos. Very cool!

 We are currently in the sun at the pool I’m a gorgeous afternoon as we sail out of Napier. 

 Another great day in paradise! 

 Chinese new year is over, but Gān Bēi anyway!

Bill

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On 2/18/2019 at 8:42 PM, CelticMutt said:

OK, I have to admit upfront that this review is being done under the influences of a couple of Mount Gay rums and Bailys combinations - don’t laugh, it’s an excellent drink! I just haven’t thought of a name for it yet. Suggestions?) 

Hi Bill, We board the Orion in Hong Kong and sail through to Vancouver. I'll find Kateryna at the bar and ask her for a 'Bill Bailey' special in your honour.

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On 2/19/2019 at 7:46 AM, stretchcruz said:

You are getting me so excited to leave Friday! Who is the maitre d at my aunt Freddy's?

Here’s a snap of Boban.  Told him you were asking about him at dinner last night.  Tell him I was the guy that helped identify the actors in the photos in the restaurant reception area.

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Thanks, I will!! We will meet him on Sunday...reservations at 6 PM after our long flights from Tucson.....figured we would just soldier through and go to Manfredi's then to bed! We did that on our Barcelona, Baltics, and Beyond and it worked great.

Thanks so much for your ongoing commentary.

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The following appears to be a post that didn’t send, but may be a repeat.  Sorry if so!

”Had a great dinner at The Restaurant last night.  Their everyday menu includes a sirloin steak you just have to try!  Perfect cook and not a smidge of fat or gristle.

Went to the Beatles tribute show last night done by the four young singers that do the standard shows.  They were wonderful!

Had a nightcap at Torshavn listening to Daniel the resident guitarist.

Perfect day!

Doing the included Wellington city tour this afternoon.  Supposed to be one of the most “livable” cities in the world!

Gotta do a tip of the hat to one of the most personable barkeeps we’ve come across in a long time; Jovica from Macedonia! He’s kept us laughing! (And I think he might hurt me if I don’t say something nice!😀)

На здравје! (Macedonian naturally!)

Bill

 

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16 minutes ago, SoDakPirate said:

If you have the silver spirits package, are drinks in Torshavn included ?

Thank you

 

Of course!  

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 Sorry about my delay in posting over the course of the past two days, but those two days on board get kind of hectic.

As said above drinks in Torshavn are included, but as always the limit is $15 per drink.

On Thursday we opted for the geothermal tour and Maoricultural visit. It lasted about 6 hours (an hour and 15 minute bus ride each direction but included an  excellent buffet lunch that was extensive and very complete. Probably had the best hand carved ham station I’ve ever eaten! After lunch our guide, Justin, (who was absolutely wonderful!) Showed us through the parks and we were able to explore the thermal region of Rotorua, which is sacred to the Māori for its bubbling mudpots, spewing geysers, (The locals refer to them as “geezers” which considering the average age on board is pretty fitting!) there are also silica terraces and fumaroles.  We were also able to see a live Kiwi bird Which apparently isn’t very common even though they are in an enclosure.

Finally, we had about a half an hour cultural dance and singing exhibition that was well-performed and occurred in a sacred building with beautiful carvings! 

 fter a long day we just decided to have a couple of cocktails and dine in the world Café for dinner. This was the only time we opted to do so and it’s actually very good! Especially since you don’t have to get dressed up. 

 Just wanted to mention one of the outstanding service people on the Orion in the restaurant. Her name was Roselin and she was outstanding!  (Just sorry that I don’t have a picture of her to share with you.) Everything is winding down – tomorrow is our last excursion day. Planning on seeing the aquarium and the sky tower.

Manuia!

Bill

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On 2/20/2019 at 3:21 PM, OceanPatter said:

Love your thread. BTW, did anyone go on the Taieri Gorge Railway trip in Dunedin?

 

On 2/20/2019 at 3:21 PM, OceanPatter said:

Love your thread. BTW, did anyone go on the Taieri Gorge Railway trip in Dunedin?

We’re a group of 4 and we all enjoyed this train trip. Pick up is right at the port!  Run by volunteers who are very engaging. Wine served throughout and a good lunch. Would recommend this one!

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On 2/24/2019 at 11:55 AM, Zouave said:

What is the wine list like?

No real “list”!

The standard wines that are served with lunch and dinner are pretty good. They have a tendency to vary both the white and the red on a daily basis that matches as close to possible the area that the ship is in.

We had taken the silver package which gives you the opportunity of choosing a higher grade wine; most of which were actually excellent. Our traveling companions are very wine knowledgeable and we’re both very satisfied  with the reds and whites that were served with the package. (Perhaps a little less so with the “standard” wines.)

Just a note here that the wine package costs $20 per day per person. That’s about two drinks and the opportunity of upgrading your mind as well. We found the package well worth the money.

Whakahari! (Maori)

Bill

PS: just be careful with this one; “WH” is pronounced as an “F” in Maori!

 

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As our final excursion we had chosen to do the morning Sky Tower and the Sea Life Aquarium. 

We arrived at the aquarium after a brief bus ride to the city.  Just a quick note that the aquarium is virtually all underground – a negative for one of the more claustrophobic members of our group. Also, since in our case the visit was on the Saturday the aquarium was teaming with children.  That being said, the walk-through had some excellent points of reference. The Penguin colony exhibit was excellent. Seeing that many penguins in a water/snow environment was pretty cool! Another highlight was a moving walkway that circulated through and under an extremely large tank enclosure that included sharks and rays.

 The bus then moved us back into the city proper for a 15 minute ride to the sky tower. The tower is impressive and dominates the entire skyline of the city. There is an high-speed elevator that takes you to the 50th floor and the café as well  as another elevator that takes you to the observation deck on the 60th floor. From there you can do (or observe) a controlled drop to the ground level at 50 miles an hour or go outside of the enclosure (tethered of course) for a full walk around and lean out. (Not my thing!!) 

We had originally scheduled the included city tour for the afternoon, but since we had already had a bus drive through the city and were concerned about packing for a very early check out the next day, we decided to pass on this excursion. 

We had a very nice farewell dinner at The Restaurant and made it an early night because of the aforementioned early check out. 

 On Sunday those of our group with late flights out of Auckland had to be in the atrium by 730 and were transferred to the Stamford Hotel  to a large meeting room and supplied with coffee and muffins for our remaining time in the city. We parked our carry-ons at the hotel (bags had already been transferred to the airport by truck – something that should have been done On our arrival in Sydney!)  and proceeded to have a very nice walk along the waterfront and a great lunch at Jack Tars.  The food was great although a bit pricey, but the waterfront views and people watching we’re a lot of fun! It was then back to the hotel for the 45 minute ride to the airport and our 7:45 PM Auckland to San Francisco; San Francisco to Newark return home. Made for a LONG Day, but not nearly as long as our travel to Australia!

We were sad to leave the Orion, but after three weeks it was good to be getting home!

 It was a wonderful vacation – we loved Australia and we’re especially fond of New Zealand. The ship was a wonderful experience – much like our other experiences on Viking.  I’d highly recommend this cruise by biking!

Within the next couple of days I’ll do a full pros and cons on the trip as an overview. 

Saúde!

Bill

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Bill we are onboard now and enjoying every minute. I admire you taking the time to post in such detail!!! Don't know how you did it!!!

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I thought I'd wait a few days and let the jet lag wear off before ending up.

I'll start with the obvious positives and then touch on some of the things I thought Viking could have done better.  

We loved the cruise!  The ship is beautiful; service is outstanding and the food was wonderful in every one of the restaurants including room service. Entertainment is certainly improving.  (Daniel on guitar; Tim on piano and the four kids who did the primary shows were all great!) We had an aft DV cabin (5111) which was cool for views, but a long walk from everything.

We didn't do much of the enrichment aspects - had already lost too many brain cells.  The planetarium was a bit too… Schmaltzy! We only saw one of them (Mars) but decided to pass on the other two that we had tickets for because we would’ve sooner been in a ship environment than watching what is basically a sci-fi cartoon! I’d suggest using the planetarium for more of its original purpose – to show the stars’ and planets’ positions.

Included wines and beers were pretty good, but I feel the Silver Spirits package is a steal at $20 PP per day because of the wine upgrades and the ability to have a couple of drinks a day at no extra charge.

The itinerary was excellent, but could have been better supported by the excursions - especially the included ones.

All four of us would highly recommend this cruise!

Now for some recos that we felt Viking could work on:

- "Viking Air" needs some serious work.  We paid the upgrade to choose our own flights and thought we had our “to” and “from” schedules pretty set.  (We had opted for business class throughout.) Total travel time out was to have been about 30 hours (Newark to Dallas to Sydney and then to Cairns - and Aukland to Frisco to Newark home - at about 20 hours.  While maintaining our home flights, Viking Air arbitrarily chose to radically change our "to" flights which amended travel time to over 40 hours and necessitated a 5 AM flight out of Newark.  We knew nothing about the change until we saw it in our revised itinerary on "My Viking Journey".  This really could have been done better!

-  We opted for the "pre" extension in Cairns because we wanted to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.  We were booked at the Sheraton Grand Mirage for the three days.  The hotel was ... just OK.  Pretty, but spread over a large amount of land which necessitates a lot of walking.  A lot of pools (we upgraded to a swim-out), but the fresh water pool was closed for repairs and ALL the salt water pools had green algae coating the bottoms.  

The two included tours here couldn't have been more different.  The rain forest tour was great in spite of a deluge.  The very commercial tour to a snorkeling platform on the GBR was a big disappointment.  Way too many people made the water cloudy and choked with OPF (other people's flippers!)  One of the other passenger groups opted for a private Viator snorkel and were very happy with it.  So I'd very much recommend that alternative.

- As I noted before, leaving the hotel and getting to the ship was a mess.  There were about 100 people in our group and getting them and their baggage moved seemed to be ill-planned especially at Sydney Airport.  We waited in line for almost 90 minutes while 3 busses loaded everyone.  Each bus's driver was the only person to load the baggage per bus which took about 30 minutes for each bus.  A much better idea would have been to put all the luggage on one truck and just board the passengers. They did this on the way home and it worked fine.  

- As stated above, the included excursions need a lot of work.  Most of them were quick bus rides through the port city.  "Extra" extensions were a lot better, but were very pricey.  (And the Southern Alps tour's lunch of a saran-wrapped mystery meat sandwich could have been a whole lot better.  Like the wonderful lunch buffet at the geothermal tour!!)

I know it sounds like I'm spending more time on the negatives than on the really significant positives, but I also know that Viking reads this kind of input and I'd sooner deliver a constructive criticism than a simple complement.  Well, while actually both are important,  you don’t have to do anything with a positive, but to maintain it. Working on a negative necessitates a lot more effort!

We'd take this cruise again in a minute and would highly recommend to others.  Unfortunately, when you hit a couple of negatives early, it can affect your attitude.  Luckily when this happened there was alcohol!! 😉
 

Votre Sante!

Bill

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Dear @CelticMutt,

 

Welcome home! We’ve enjoyed following along with your journey and are pleased to hear that, overall, you loved your experience.

 

The comments you’ve provided on this thread, both constructive and complimentary, are very much appreciated and have been documented for review. Should you wish to discuss your feedback with us directly, please email us at TellUs@vikingcruises.com so that we can arrange a phone call with a seasoned member of our Customer Relations Department.

 

Best wishes to you as you settle in back at home, CelticMutt, and thanks once again for sharing your experience. Hope to see you aboard again soon!

 

Best,

Viking Cruises

 

2 hours ago, CelticMutt said:

I thought I'd wait a few days and let the jet lag wear off before ending up.

I'll start with the obvious positives and then touch on some of the things I thought Viking could have done better.  

We loved the cruise!...

 

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On 3/4/2019 at 4:19 PM, CelticMutt said:

- As stated above, the included excursions need a lot of work.  Most of them were quick bus rides through the port city.  "Extra" extensions were a lot better, but were very pricey. 

 

We're on this trip next February with same pre-extension to Port Douglas and Great Barrier Reef.  We're looking to get a head start on excursion planning, especially the Viking optionals.  Any chance you have a list of the Viking options with prices?  I expect there will be changes between now and then, but it'll help with planning.

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On ‎3‎/‎4‎/‎2019 at 2:19 PM, CelticMutt said:

I thought I'd wait a few days and let the jet lag wear off before ending up.

I'll start with the obvious positives and then touch on some of the things I thought Viking could have done better.  

We loved the cruise!  The ship is beautiful; service is outstanding and the food was wonderful in every one of the restaurants including room service. Entertainment is certainly improving.  (Daniel on guitar; Tim on piano and the four kids who did the primary shows were all great!) We had an aft DV cabin (5111) which was cool for views, but a long walk from everything.

We didn't do much of the enrichment aspects - had already lost too many brain cells.  The planetarium was a bit too… Schmaltzy! We only saw one of them (Mars) but decided to pass on the other two that we had tickets for because we would’ve sooner been in a ship environment than watching what is basically a sci-fi cartoon! I’d suggest using the planetarium for more of its original purpose – to show the stars’ and planets’ positions.

Included wines and beers were pretty good, but I feel the Silver Spirits package is a steal at $20 PP per day because of the wine upgrades and the ability to have a couple of drinks a day at no extra charge.

The itinerary was excellent, but could have been better supported by the excursions - especially the included ones.

All four of us would highly recommend this cruise!

Now for some recos that we felt Viking could work on:

- "Viking Air" needs some serious work.  We paid the upgrade to choose our own flights and thought we had our “to” and “from” schedules pretty set.  (We had opted for business class throughout.) Total travel time out was to have been about 30 hours (Newark to Dallas to Sydney and then to Cairns - and Aukland to Frisco to Newark home - at about 20 hours.  While maintaining our home flights, Viking Air arbitrarily chose to radically change our "to" flights which amended travel time to over 40 hours and necessitated a 5 AM flight out of Newark.  We knew nothing about the change until we saw it in our revised itinerary on "My Viking Journey".  This really could have been done better!

-  We opted for the "pre" extension in Cairns because we wanted to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.  We were booked at the Sheraton Grand Mirage for the three days.  The hotel was ... just OK.  Pretty, but spread over a large amount of land which necessitates a lot of walking.  A lot of pools (we upgraded to a swim-out), but the fresh water pool was closed for repairs and ALL the salt water pools had green algae coating the bottoms.  

The two included tours here couldn't have been more different.  The rain forest tour was great in spite of a deluge.  The very commercial tour to a snorkeling platform on the GBR was a big disappointment.  Way too many people made the water cloudy and choked with OPF (other people's flippers!)  One of the other passenger groups opted for a private Viator snorkel and were very happy with it.  So I'd very much recommend that alternative.

- As I noted before, leaving the hotel and getting to the ship was a mess.  There were about 100 people in our group and getting them and their baggage moved seemed to be ill-planned especially at Sydney Airport.  We waited in line for almost 90 minutes while 3 busses loaded everyone.  Each bus's driver was the only person to load the baggage per bus which took about 30 minutes for each bus.  A much better idea would have been to put all the luggage on one truck and just board the passengers. They did this on the way home and it worked fine.  

- As stated above, the included excursions need a lot of work.  Most of them were quick bus rides through the port city.  "Extra" extensions were a lot better, but were very pricey.  (And the Southern Alps tour's lunch of a saran-wrapped mystery meat sandwich could have been a whole lot better.  Like the wonderful lunch buffet at the geothermal tour!!)

I know it sounds like I'm spending more time on the negatives than on the really significant positives, but I also know that Viking reads this kind of input and I'd sooner deliver a constructive criticism than a simple complement.  Well, while actually both are important,  you don’t have to do anything with a positive, but to maintain it. Working on a negative necessitates a lot more effort!

We'd take this cruise again in a minute and would highly recommend to others.  Unfortunately, when you hit a couple of negatives early, it can affect your attitude.  Luckily when this happened there was alcohol!! 😉
 

Votre Sante!

Bill

Hello CelticMutt, if you are still reading this rollcall I would like to ask you a couple of questions.  I will try your email.  But if it does not work can you please email me at mtroastle  @  rap  . midco  . net  ,  I wanted to know wht airline you flew out on and back.  We go next Feb 21 and am starting to work my flights.  Thanks for the constant updates and infor you provided.

 

Mike

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