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vslparis

Great Barrier Reef tour question

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Does anyone  know  the difference between the two Great Barrier Reef tours offered on the Viking Orion ? One is $199 per person and one is $299 per person. Both look very similar and actually the one for $199 offers lunch where the other does not. I would appreciate any feedback from those who have taken this tour.

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Last year we had the $299 GBR tour.  300 fellow passengers.  Too many for the boat and much too many for the float we ended on.  If doing it again I would take the small group private tour, probably by helicopter.  They go to different floats.  

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Somehow I knew it would be you that had the answer ; at least on the $299 one as it looks like that was the only one offered in the past.  I have been looking into alternatives but timing is a bit of an issue.

Do you remember who the tour operator was on your trip? 

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21 minutes ago, vslparis said:

Somehow I knew it would be you that had the answer ; at least on the $299 one as it looks like that was the only one offered in the past.  I have been looking into alternatives but timing is a bit of an issue.

Do you remember who the tour operator was on your trip? 

Sorry, I don't.  It's in our album but then our album is back in Arizona....

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30 minutes ago, Jim Avery said:

Sorry, I don't.  It's in our album but then our album is back in Arizona....

No worries.  Did it include lunch  ?

I am hoping  to get a more detailed explanation from Viking’s shorex department next week on the $199 one and now that I know a bit about the  one that you did , I have some particular questions to ask. Thanks ! 

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Yes, sandwich and crisps type. Also included two drinks tickets. After that cash bar if you wanted more.🍺

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4 hours ago, Jim Avery said:

Yes, sandwich and crisps type. Also included two drinks tickets. After that cash bar if you wanted more.🍺

Hmm...overcrowded boat , overcrowded platform along with a sandwich and a bag of crisps has me rethinking this .Add in the fact that it is stinger season and I might need more than 2 drink tickets 😬🍷 Did you do this out of Cairns ?  Looks like there are more options further south during our stop in Airlie Beach .

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We did the catamaran out of WhitSunday Islands.  The cat came directly to the ship & went to a pontoon near Hardy Reef - don't remember the price but it include lunch on the cat, snacks coffee, & tea.  We were happy to do it since we are novices at snorkeling & they had plenty of staff to keep an eye on you. You do wear a suit in the water due to stingers.  The company that does this tour is Cruise Whitsundays, they have a website & there are reviews on TripAdvisor.  We had a great time(as novices).  I had heard doing the GBR out of Cairns is not as nice.  Let me set expectations, the coral reef is not very colorful - it has suffered a lot due to the climate and lack of rain.  If you have a GBR pilot onboard for the lectures, make sure you see the lecture - fascinating to learn about navigation near the GBR.  

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52 minutes ago, SM77 said:

We did the catamaran out of WhitSunday Islands.  The cat came directly to the ship & went to a pontoon near Hardy Reef - don't remember the price but it include lunch on the cat, snacks coffee, & tea.  We were happy to do it since we are novices at snorkeling & they had plenty of staff to keep an eye on you. You do wear a suit in the water due to stingers.  The company that does this tour is Cruise Whitsundays, they have a website & there are reviews on TripAdvisor.  We had a great time(as novices).  I had heard doing the GBR out of Cairns is not as nice.  Let me set expectations, the coral reef is not very colorful - it has suffered a lot due to the climate and lack of rain.  If you have a GBR pilot onboard for the lectures, make sure you see the lecture - fascinating to learn about navigation near the GBR.  

Thanks for the info.  I really wanted to go to Whitehaven beach in the Whitsundays , but in doing research realized that Airlie Beach had better GBR options. Yes, I did read about the bleaching of the coral due to climate change and overfishing . Very sad state of affairs that hopefully can be turned around with care.  Did you do this trip with Viking or on your own?

There are several stops on our Komodo Australia trip this December that have less than stellar options for touring and naturally now this one stop with too many choices  😏. Just a good excuse to come back!   

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3 minutes ago, vslparis said:

Thanks for the info.  I really wanted to go to Whitehaven beach in the Whitsundays , but in doing research realized that Airlie Beach had better GBR options. Yes, I did read about the bleaching of the coral due to climate change and overfishing . Very sad state of affairs that hopefully can be turned around with care.  Did you do this trip with Viking or on your own?

There are several stops on our Komodo Australia trip this December that have less than stellar options for touring and naturally now this one stop with too many choices  😏. Just a good excuse to come back!   

We did it through Viking hence the catamaran coming to the the Viking ship to pick up folks.  It made the trip very easy and saved time.  We did both Auckland to Sydney, then Sydney to Bali.  IMO, once we passed north of GBR and Brisbane (where we went to the Koala Sanctuary), the other stops were not that interesting until we did Komodo Island.  I had not been to this part of the world, my husband had been in Sydney and refueled in Darwin (he was on R&R from Vietnam) 50 years ago to the time that we went (March 2019) - my major regret is that we did back to back cruises and did not have a lot of time in Sydney.  Komodo Island is incredible, you are lucky since the Indonesian govt plans to shut down visits to Komodo starting next year.  Loved the New Zealand segment, NZ is a beautiful country.  I would go to NZ again, and only Sydney and the surrounding area for Australia since I did the GBR.  I just found it way too hot & humid in Northern Australia & Indonesia.  We skipped Thursday Island on our cruise due to outrunning a cyclone which would have been interesting to see.  

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17 hours ago, SM77 said:

We did it through Viking hence the catamaran coming to the the Viking ship to pick up folks.  It made the trip very easy and saved time.  We did both Auckland to Sydney, then Sydney to Bali.  IMO, once we passed north of GBR and Brisbane (where we went to the Koala Sanctuary), the other stops were not that interesting until we did Komodo Island.  I had not been to this part of the world, my husband had been in Sydney and refueled in Darwin (he was on R&R from Vietnam) 50 years ago to the time that we went (March 2019) - my major regret is that we did back to back cruises and did not have a lot of time in Sydney.  Komodo Island is incredible, you are lucky since the Indonesian govt plans to shut down visits to Komodo starting next year.  Loved the New Zealand segment, NZ is a beautiful country.  I would go to NZ again, and only Sydney and the surrounding area for Australia since I did the GBR.  I just found it way too hot & humid in Northern Australia & Indonesia.  We skipped Thursday Island on our cruise due to outrunning a cyclone which would have been interesting to see.  

 

Thanks, SM77, for the great insights here.   We just booked the Auckland-Sydney-Bali cruise in March 2021 so the same time period you have.  Fortunately we have been to the GBR on our own many years ago.   We'll likely look for an "inland" tour in Cairns then.   Am really looking forward to the Whitsundys and your comment on taking Viking tour to save time makes a lot of sense.  Also want to go to Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane so hopefully you enjoyed that too!

Our regret is not seeing the Komodo Dragons, but we'll see what Viking comes up with in its place.

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5 minutes ago, CCWineLover said:

 

Thanks, SM77, for the great insights here.   We just booked the Auckland-Sydney-Bali cruise in March 2021 so the same time period you have.  Fortunately we have been to the GBR on our own many years ago.   We'll likely look for an "inland" tour in Cairns then.   Am really looking forward to the Whitsundys and your comment on taking Viking tour to save time makes a lot of sense.  Also want to go to Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane so hopefully you enjoyed that too!

Our regret is not seeing the Komodo Dragons, but we'll see what Viking comes up with in its place.

Loved the Koala Sanctuary - Viking made arrangements for each bus group to have a private session w/ a handler & Koala bear - it was a very short period so we all lined up to take pics w/ the handler & bear.  Such an interesting place and fun to watch the koalas interact; however it is very hot & humid.  Maybe Viking will make arrangements w/ one of the other Indonesian islands that still allow visitors to see the dragons.  Not sure if you saw my live on board discussion of our cruise last February - March '19 - Lots of comments there.  We really loved the Auckland - Sydney segment.  If you have been to GBR then exploring other options when getting to Whitsundays would make sense.  I was not impressed w/ Cairns - at that point it was really hot & humid.  I know there's been a lot of negative feedback about the Orion but we thought the service and staff exceptional.  You will have a great time!

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22 hours ago, SM77 said:

We did it through Viking hence the catamaran coming to the the Viking ship to pick up folks.  It made the trip very easy and saved time.  We did both Auckland to Sydney, then Sydney to Bali.  IMO, once we passed north of GBR and Brisbane (where we went to the Koala Sanctuary), the other stops were not that interesting until we did Komodo Island.  I had not been to this part of the world, my husband had been in Sydney and refueled in Darwin (he was on R&R from Vietnam) 50 years ago to the time that we went (March 2019) - my major regret is that we did back to back cruises and did not have a lot of time in Sydney.  Komodo Island is incredible, you are lucky since the Indonesian govt plans to shut down visits to Komodo starting next year.  Loved the New Zealand segment, NZ is a beautiful country.  I would go to NZ again, and only Sydney and the surrounding area for Australia since I did the GBR.  I just found it way too hot & humid in Northern Australia & Indonesia.  We skipped Thursday Island on our cruise due to outrunning a cyclone which would have been interesting to see.  

That is certainly an easy way to do that trip. I appreciate your insights on doing

the GBR from there.  Hopefully we wont have to outrun a cyclone ! 

I agree that Sydney is a great place to visit and deserves more time. We were there for the 2nd  time in March  and just did a few sites  using a ferry pass as we had done the city and Blue Mountains before. This trip we are off to the Great Ocean Road after Sydney. 

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We are on the Sydney to Hong Kong sailing in Feb of 2020.  We are scheduled to dock in Brisbane at 8 am.  I would like to book a private 45 minutes with a koala at Lone Koala Sanctuary.  The first time is at 9 am.  Would it be possible for us to grab a cab and make this session or should I miss the Tasmanian Devil session and book a Koala session at 3 pm to be on the safe side?

Thank you!

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1 hour ago, Seahorse Lover said:

We are on the Sydney to Hong Kong sailing in Feb of 2020.  We are scheduled to dock in Brisbane at 8 am.  I would like to book a private 45 minutes with a koala at Lone Koala Sanctuary.  The first time is at 9 am.  Would it be possible for us to grab a cab and make this session or should I miss the Tasmanian Devil session and book a Koala session at 3 pm to be on the safe side?

Thank you!

Since the only Viking ship I see on the Brisbane port schedule is the Viking Sun, I suspect you are on one of the segments of the World Cruise. We are in Brisbane on Feb 14th and are scheduled to dock downtown.

 

From the downtown cruise terminal it is only 10 to 12 miles to the sanctuary, but you should consider you are dealing with weekday rush hour traffic.

 

We are spending the day with friends and may visit the sanctuary in the afternoon.

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4 hours ago, Seahorse Lover said:

We are on the Sydney to Hong Kong sailing in Feb of 2020.  We are scheduled to dock in Brisbane at 8 am.  I would like to book a private 45 minutes with a koala at Lone Koala Sanctuary.  The first time is at 9 am.  Would it be possible for us to grab a cab and make this session or should I miss the Tasmanian Devil session and book a Koala session at 3 pm to be on the safe side?

Thank you!

If you dock at the Port of Brisbane, no chance. If you dock at Portside Hamilton, possibly. For some reason I can't get into the 2020 port schedule at the moment so I am not sure which one will apply to you.

 

Even if you are at Portside Hamilton - there is a great deal of roadwork right outside Portside Hamilton (Kingsford Smith Drive upgrade) and you will very likely be delayed just getting out of the port area. Once you are out you will be on a Motorway most of the way to Lone Pine - however whilst the Motorway is supposed to be smooth, flowing traffic that rarely occurs. Of course once you arrive you have to get through a gates and into the sanctuary in time. As such, 3pm would be much safer. Of course after your 3pm appointment you do have to get back on the ship in time to cruise away.

 

For what it is worth, if you want the Australian wildlife experience I can highly recommend a visit to Australia Zoo (Steve Irwin's family still run it). I haven't been for some time but one of my husband's golf buddies was there a few weeks ago and raved about it. It is much further away from port and I'm not sure if it is an optional excursion for you, but if it is I encourage you consider it.

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Thank you for your replies.  Viking tells me that we are docking at the Portside Hamilton location, but given the traffic described I am now looking at a behind the scenes tour from noon to 3pm.  I would think that would leave plenty of time to get back for a 5pm sailing.  I looked at the Australian Zoo and it has much more than Australian wildlife and is further away, as you indicated.  We have a topnotch zoo at home for the African animals and we have been on safari, so we are more interested in the native Australian animals for this day.

Yes, our cruise is a segment of the World Cruise.  Looking forward to meeting all of you on board!

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Suggest coming over to the Roll Calls, as we have an active thread for the L/A to London portion and all the segments. We are doing the entire L/A to London voyage. 

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