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About Karen_Travels

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Lake Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico
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  1. Aloha! Thanks for the info on the WC GBR tour. That's crazy that you all had to hike to get to the boat. I remember you all saying you weren't happy with the Viking excursion. Those massive tour boats are annoying. I hope it was at least only Viking people not a mix with families with children 😱. Although any boat with that many people trying to get in and out of the water is not a good time, particularly if they are new to snorkeling. Madness! Interesting to know they had a scuba option. One person on our cruise asked Viking about that and was never able to get an answer - then the excursion was full, anyway, before he had a chance. Sadly, other than the handful of us who could book a heli tour, there are really no other options to get to the GBR from Cairns given our limited time there. I'm not counting a half-day to Green Island because it sounds like the snorkeling there is terrible. Oh, good. I'd planned on having to wear a stinger suit. I had not heard they were terrible to get on and off. UGH, another thing to dread. It's tempting, but they'd probably frown on me bringing scissors to use to extract my mom from their stinker suit. Hah Strange that it sounds like there were enough spaces available to go to the GBR for the WC but not for our cruise. I agree it sounds like the Viking GBR tour sucked but I'd rather do that than not to get to see the reef at all. Interesting that the 2020 WC will be there longer. That arrival will be too late for most of the regular full day tours (unless there is a helicopter involved) but at least something should be available to work with that later departure time. Did any of you snorkel/dive out of Bali? That would be another option but the popular snorkeling places off Bali get very mixed reviews online. To me it sounds like the people who like Blue Lagoon, etc. might not have experience snorkeling elsewhere to compare it to whereas the conditions off the neighbor islands sound far more impressive but require a full day tour to get there. Unfortunately, I doubtful we'll have that much time in Bali given we already have one full day and one half day of land tour scheduled seeing some temples, etc. We'd still want to see the GBR, however. It was the main reason why we selected the Bali to Sydney itinerary. I looked at Whitsunday but the port times/logistics didn't seem to work for private tours and the Viking cruise/snorkel there is $599! 😲. The only other place that seems possible is when we're docked in Townsville. Then we could ferry over to Magnetic Island where there are two snorkel trails that are a swim out from shore or there are some small boats that do snorkel tours around the island. A $1K heli trip to Orpheus Island is beyond our budget. Thanks, everyone, for all the information and insights. If any of you have more suggestions, your help is most appreciated! I feel so bad for the folks on our cruise who haven't found any way to make it out to the GBR. Aloha! Karen 😃
  2. Aloha Jim (and anyone else from the WC), Question for you: How long was your ship docked in Cairns? For our upcoming Bali to Sydney cruise we are only in port from 8 am to 6 pm which pretty much precludes booking an independent snorkel trip to the GBR. The Viking GBR tour filled up before most of the cabin categories were able to book excursions so there is now much venting and unhappiness on our roll call. I don't remember seeing anyone from your cruise report this problem so I'm wondering if you were in port longer. Viking clearly grossly miscalculated the amount of interest there would be in seeing the GBR this time! Fortunately, I snagged us spots on a half-day heli/snorkel cruise months ago, thanks to the suggestion of someone on this thread (whew and thanks!). I'd be pretty bitter (like my future shipmates) if I was going that far only to be forced to miss the GBR. I'm just wondering why things seem to be going so badly for Viking at Cairns this time. Perhaps a larger percentage of WC travelers had already spent time at the GBR during previous trips so your fellow travelers were less inclined to want a snorkel tour? Or were you there long enough for people to be able to schedule their own? It also sounded like Viking offered two snorkel options for the WC instead of reserving only one snorkel boat for us. It seems strange. I'm just was curious about your experience in Cairns and any thoughts you might have on this. Thanks much! Karen 😃
  3. On Viking River I did have the crew once call (without my asking!) to find a restaurant that was safe for me during a "lunch on your own" portion of a full day excursion. I am gluten free but have other allergies, too. That was wonderful of them to do but appreciate Viking Ocean has a lot more passengers to assist so I'm not sure what to expect there. I travel with the assumption I won't be able to eat anything on excursions so I bring prepackaged GF snack bars on cruises. Because they are sealed by the manufacturers I've never had problems taking them through customs/security at ports. Frankly, even if the folks on shore say the food is safe for me to eat I really don't trust it. I've been burned too many times by restaurants who don't understand gluten free and I certainly don't want to spend a big chunk of my vacation feeling sick. Some countries also sell wheat products for people with Celiac Disease that are actually low gluten rather than gluten free. That's still too much gluten for me. I will say that countries are likely to restrict the importation of fruits, vegetables, meat, alcohol, and cheeses. If you just brought some GF bread or rolls to eat while ashore you're unlikely to have problems at the port but that would depend on the country and the person working the port .
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