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quakershaker

Advice on evening Victoria excursions

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We are booked on a Princess cruise that will be in Victoria on August 24 only from 730 PM until Midnight. Due to the time of day and the limited amount of time, I’m only considering ship excursions. Has anyone done any of these? Butchart Gardens with fireworks, city walking tour (2 hours), O Canada tour- this has a visit to TIm Horton’s. I don’t understand the appeal at first glance, but maybe I’m missing something? This also has a visit to Mount Tolmie. Not considering the pub tour or craft beer tour since I don’t drink. We are two 50 ish empty nesters, no physical limitations. Husband is a serious amateur photographer. We’ve never been to Victoria before. There’s also a Craigdarroch castle tour, but I’ve heard that’s underwhelming.

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Butchart on a Firework night is the best value it gets - it's a solid show, timed to music, never heard of anyone not enjoying it. Getting out again after the fireworks can be a nightmare - one road, and a bajillion cars & buses! Ship tour does mean they'll hold the ship for you (the sail from Vic to Seattle is ridiculously short - they could leave about 4am and still dock on time!) BUT this also means that a PRIVATE excursion only has to beat the last ship's bus back... and midnight is late enough compared to when the fireworks will end that even if it takes an hour to get out of the car park you have no worries. Because of that I'd still recommend an independent tour UNLESS the ship tour is actually comparable in price - something south of US$80pp would be little enough of an uptick in cost that I'd say for the extra peace of mind it would be worthwhile, but IIRC the garden tours tend to run more like $99pp and up...

 

Compare to CVS - which would need a $10 cab ride if you don't fancy the walk to/from their stop outside the Fairmont Empress) - at CAD$75 (+5% tax). I think with that late an arrival their last regularly-scheduled outbound bus may leave too early - but try calling them as cruise ship evenings in Victoria generally mean longer hours for all shops & services that make cash from cruisers (e.g. 'afternoon' tea in the Fairmont goes to after 9pm!!!)

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2 hours ago, quakershaker said:

....O Canada tour- this has a visit to TIm Horton’s. I don’t understand the appeal at first glance, but maybe I’m missing something? This also has a visit to Mount Tolmie....

 

Oh dear. 🤣 Yes, when we saw the description in the newsletter of the tour with a stop at Tim Hortons, we and laughed and laughed... and then took a picture of it and sent it to family back home! The idea that Timmies is included on a tour you are paying for is beyond explanation to me. To see a bus load of cruise ship passengers in a Tim Hortons parking lot all head into the store is just mind-blowing to me. OK, I'm finished. 😊

Mount Tolmie is amazing, though. We moved from Victoria many years ago, yet still went back there on a visit a couple summers ago. Lovely, but probably not worth your time in this case. You can Google Earth street view it and see for yourself.

Craigdarroch Castle is underwhelming, in my opinion. When I was a youngin, I took art classes there. Even then, it just seemed like a really big house. 😏 I'd skip that also.

So your DH is a photographer and of course, that leads me to think you will LOVE the Gardens, but alas, arrival at 7:30 pm means you won't be clear to disembark until after 8 pm. With the drive out there and back, it is a frightfully short time to visit the Gardens, but is certainly do-able. 

There is lots to do downtown Victoria and lots for your hubby to photograph. The Parliament Buildings will be all lit up and it is quite the sight to see (with sunset around 8:10 pm and twilight beyond that, your pictures will be stunning). It's a very walkable city and in fact, our last few port visits there, we did just that and still had fun. Gotta give my usual recommendation for Rogers Chocolates on Government Street - their Victoria Creams are decadent. 😛

Have fun. 🚢

 

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Thank you for confirming my suspicion @Langley Cruisers ! The Butchart garden tour does seem nice, but it also seems that we might get there with barely enough time to see the fireworks much less the gardens.

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Since your husband is a photographer, I suggest you enjoy your evening wandering around the Inner Harbour area.  Its a 15 minute walk from where the cruise ship docks and lots to see and look at there; plus many places to grab a bite to eat but NOT Tim Hortons (I too can't believe people would pay money for a tour there).

 

Come back another time when you can spend a day at Butchart's !

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We too arrived late on the Eurodam on Friday 8:30pm. DW loves gardens and we made it over to the Government House and it's gardens. Lovely even in the cloudy evening.

RO

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