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Photo Review: Solstice 12 Night Great Barrier Reef Jan 2 2018


mahdnc
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Thank you, cricketgirl. You will be glad that you booked that Jan 2020 cruise. If you have planning questions in the future, just post it on this thread or you can email me at mahdnc at yahoo dot com.

 

David

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  • 3 weeks later...

David, I had bookmarked this review a couple of months back and just got back to it today and read it in one page-turning sitting. I have never cruised "Down Under" but it's now a future bucket-list destination but only after I (a) retire and (b) get Buenos Aires to Valparaiso under my belt as that calls to me. Still 5 years away.

Meantime I have Cuba and Norway cruises to look forward to-shorter, more do-able cruises for a working man.

Thanks for bringing me along on your trip and for the generous use of your stellar photos to propel the narrative!

Norris

in Chicago

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David, I had bookmarked this review a couple of months back and just got back to it today and read it in one page-turning sitting. I have never cruised "Down Under" but it's now a future bucket-list destination but only after I (a) retire and (b) get Buenos Aires to Valparaiso under my belt as that calls to me. Still 5 years away.

 

Meantime I have Cuba and Norway cruises to look forward to-shorter, more do-able cruises for a working man.

Thanks for bringing me along on your trip and for the generous use of your stellar photos to propel the narrative!

 

Norris

in Chicago

 

Norris, thank you for your kind words. I am glad that you found the review informative and I do hope you get to do an Australia cruise some day.

 

I agree with your priorities and we ended up doing the South America (Valparaiso to Buenos Aires) first--the year before. We very much enjoyed that cruise (Dec 24 2016 Infinity review). It was fun, it was exciting, and it felt very exotic.

 

David

in Frankfort (IL)

 

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Sydney, Australia; Embarkation day (Jan 2, 2018); taken from Solstice.

Edited by mahdnc
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  • 1 month later...

Great reviews and not only super helpful but got me inspired to get in gear for my excursions and also very excited for our B2B cruise of Australia and New Zealand this Oct/Nov. I do have one question - after reviewing the different material and on line info - do you know if there is any excursion where you can do the GBR snorkeling AND a helicopter ride as well? The helicopter ride looks amazing - but you miss out on all the wonderful snorkeling. Only having two opportunities to see the GBR - I hate to give one of them up. Thanks

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Great reviews and not only super helpful but got me inspired to get in gear for my excursions and also very excited for our B2B cruise of Australia and New Zealand this Oct/Nov. I do have one question - after reviewing the different material and on line info - do you know if there is any excursion where you can do the GBR snorkeling AND a helicopter ride as well? The helicopter ride looks amazing - but you miss out on all the wonderful snorkeling. Only having two opportunities to see the GBR - I hate to give one of them up. Thanks

 

Hi mollygreen. Yes, there is a way to do both--snorkel and do a short helicopter ride all in one excursion. The way to do it is to book a snorkel excursion that takes you to one of the large floating pontoons anchored out on the Great Barrier Reef. These pontoons serves as a platform to offer snorkeling, scuba diving, submersible rides, underwater observatory viewing, and helicopter rides. The scuba and helicopter rides cost extra and are not included in the price of the excursion. The helicopter rides are short enough that there is plenty of time leftover to do snorkeling. The helicopter rides are sold on board the boat that takes you from the cruise ship to the pontoon.

 

Celebrity offers excursions that involve a pontoon (and hence you can buy a helicopter ride) at Airlie Beach (IE05 Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling). We took that excursion and saw the helicopters taking off from the floating heli-pads located a small distance away from the pontoon (see photo). That excursion is run by Cruisewhitsundays and I imagine they will be handling this shore excursion again in October.

 

At Cairns, Celebrity offers a snorkel tour that uses a pontoon--CN01 Great Barrier Reef (see page 25 in this linked document). We did not take this tour as we took CN30 (Exploring the Great Barrier Reef) which did not involve a pontoon. Our tour (CN30) was run by Reef Magic Cruises. I am fairly certain that Reef Magic Cruises also ran CN01 using their large Marine World pontoon. Here is a description of Marine World and if you look under "Optional Activities and Services", you will see helicopter rides being offered.

 

My helicopter ride was done during our Port Douglas day. Celebrity did not offer a snorkeling tour at this port so we booked independently with Quicksilver. However your sailing does not visit Port Douglas.

 

If this is the answer you were looking for, it might be a good idea to verify things by calling the shore excursion company directly. Except for the shore excursion desk aboard Solstice, I would not expect Celebrity to know anything about the helicopter options as part of the snorkeling excursion since it is not even mentioned in the excursion description.

 

Here is a photo of the two floating helipads that we saw during our Celebrity snorkeling excursion at Airlie Beach. The photo was taken from the Heart Pontoon run by Cruisewhitsundays. The pontoon is located at Hardy Reef.

c8bc02f1eca671913f32a51d95bbc2e8.jpg

Edited by mahdnc
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Hi mollygreen. Yes, there is a way to do both--snorkel and do a short helicopter ride all in one excursion. The way to do it is to book a snorkel excursion that takes you to one of the large floating pontoons anchored out on the Great Barrier Reef. These pontoons serves as a platform to offer snorkeling, scuba diving, submersible rides, underwater observatory viewing, and helicopter rides. The scuba and helicopter rides cost extra and are not included in the price of the excursion. The helicopter rides are short enough that there is plenty of time leftover to do snorkeling. The helicopter rides are sold on board the boat that takes you from the cruise ship to the pontoon.

 

Celebrity offers excursions that involve a pontoon (and hence you can buy a helicopter ride) at Airlie Beach (IE05 Great Barrier Reef Snorkeling). We took that excursion and saw the helicopters taking off from the floating heli-pads located a small distance away from the pontoon (see photo). That excursion is run by Cruisewhitsundays and I imagine they will be handling this shore excursion again in October.

 

At Cairns, Celebrity offers a snorkel tour that uses a pontoon--CN01 Great Barrier Reef (see page 25 in this linked document). We did not take this tour as we took CN30 (Exploring the Great Barrier Reef) which did not involve a pontoon. Our tour (CN30) was run by Reef Magic Cruises. I am fairly certain that Reef Magic Cruises also ran CN01 using their large Marine World pontoon. Here is a description of Marine World and if you look under "Optional Activities and Services", you will see helicopter rides being offered.

 

My helicopter ride was done during our Port Douglas day. Celebrity did not offer a snorkeling tour at this port so we booked independently with Quicksilver. However your sailing does not visit Port Douglas.

 

If this is the answer you were looking for, it might be a good idea to verify things by calling the shore excursion company directly. Except for the shore excursion desk aboard Solstice, I would not expect Celebrity to know anything about the helicopter options as part of the snorkeling excursion since it is not even mentioned in the excursion description.

 

Here is a photo of the two floating helipads that we saw during our Celebrity snorkeling excursion at Airlie Beach. The photo was taken from the Heart Pontoon run by Cruisewhitsundays. The pontoon is located at Hardy Reef.

c8bc02f1eca671913f32a51d95bbc2e8.jpg

Awesome and thanks so much for your detailed reply. I had thought I picked up on the helicopter part of Airlie Beach excursion - but couldn't find anything on celebrity. But clear now. Again - thanks so much for your detailed review of your cruise earlier this year. You saved me so much research and gave me a great head start on the planning!

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mollygreen, you're welcome. I want to re-emphasize that you should contact CruiseWhitsundays (Airlie Beach port day) and Reef Magic (Carins port day) to confirm that they are doing the pontoon shore excursions for Celebrity and verify their helicopter ride services (cost, how to book etc). They is little room for planning error and yes, snorkeling the reef and seeing the GBR from the air are two different, yet impressive, experiences. Good luck.

 

Here are a few more pictures:

 

d861057b38cc16f254443aca1cfddc8c.jpg

Sat Jan 6 (Airlie Beach port day). Here is a shuttle boat ferrying passengers back to the pontoon. They just finished their helicopter ride (helicopter pad is in the background). Tour operator is CruiseWhitsundays. Location is Heart Pontoon at Hardy Reef.

 

 

 

c80b91d8d06ad39500c7b13140482c06.jpg

Tue Jan 9 (Port Douglas port day). The above photo was taken just before I boarded this helicopter for my tour. A ten minute ride for $150 AUD. I booked this snorkel tour independently thru Quicksilver. Their pontoon is located at Agincourt Reef. This helicopter had room for the pilot and six passengers. Seating is assigned to you when you board as they try to properly balance the helicopter. I was lucky enough to get the front seat next to the pilot which gives you the best view of the reef and the instrument panel (if you like that sort of thing). There are 4 seats in the back that each have their own window--2 of the window seats are forward facing, while the other two are rear facing. The sixth passenger's seat is a middle seat. We are waiting on the platform as an employee is manually refilling the helicopter's fuel tank using cans of fuel. Our tour was not narrated although headphones were provided to all passengers for communication.

 

 

 

d4a5be88b51490d967955d39d1f38ce0.jpg

Tue Jan 9 (Port Douglas port day). This photo was taken from the helicopter minutes before it left the floating helipad. The boat is taking passengers from the previous helicopter tour back to the pontoon (background). As a safety measure the helicopter doesn't take off until the boat is well clear of the helipad. In the background of the photo, the pontoon is plainly visible. Immediately to its right is the Quicksilver boat that transported us from Port Douglas to the pontoon. To the right of the boat are two submersible boats that give passengers a view of the coral reef through its glass bottom. The submersible ride does not cost extra. Tour operator is Quicksilver.

Edited by mahdnc
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Awesome and thanks so much for your detailed reply. I had thought I picked up on the helicopter part of Airlie Beach excursion - but couldn't find anything on celebrity. But clear now. Again - thanks so much for your detailed review of your cruise earlier this year. You saved me so much research and gave me a great head start on the planning!

 

One other thing to add: I noticed that at Port Douglas all the helicopter flights were full on our snorkel/scuba excursion. In other words the tour operator was able to sell all of the seats. So be sure to book it as soon as you can--whether you buy it on the boat ride to the pontoon or at the pontoon itself.

 

3f8b4fdf58e9b86332fabc87464ebffb.jpg

Tue Jan 9 2018, Agincourt Reef

Edited by mahdnc
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David

Your review and photos are absolutely fabulous. Would you mind if I used some of your photos for an information session I am giving on some of these ports - I have not seen any as good elsewhere!!

 

 

 

baycruising, you may use any of my photos for your information session. Note that some of the photos were posted directly by other people. Thanks for your compliment.

 

David

 

 

Sent from my iPhone X using Tapatalk

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  • 7 months later...
On 5/17/2018 at 11:49 AM, mahdnc said:

Thank you, cricketgirl. You will be glad that you booked that Jan 2020 cruise. If you have planning questions in the future, just post it on this thread or you can email me at mahdnc at yahoo dot com.

 

David

 

On 7/16/2018 at 8:32 AM, mahdnc said:

 

 

 

baycruising, you may use any of my photos for your information session. Note that some of the photos were posted directly by other people. Thanks for your compliment.

 

David

 

 

Sent from my iPhone X using Tapatalk

 

David,

This is so awesome. I couldn’t believe it when I saw your CC name.

We are booked on the Solstice Australia/New Zealand- B2B in October 2019.  

We were on the ABC Cruise this past January with you and your lovely family .  (formerly from Northern Illinois.) You did such a great job with the excel spreadsheet and the CC  Meet n Mingle. Kudos!

This is so helpful to me as this trip planning is so overwhelming.  You are making it exciting and perhaps a little easier to get through.

I was going to email you but I think your detailed and inclusive info will be enough for us to make some good excursion decisions.

David, Thank you again.

(Booked the Galapagos for July 2020. Have you been there? If so. Any helpful info?)

 

 

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15 hours ago, SweetSnickers said:

 

 

David,

This is so awesome. I couldn’t believe it when I saw your CC name.

We are booked on the Solstice Australia/New Zealand- B2B in October 2019.  

We were on the ABC Cruise this past January with you and your lovely family .  (formerly from Northern Illinois.) You did such a great job with the excel spreadsheet and the CC  Meet n Mingle. Kudos!

This is so helpful to me as this trip planning is so overwhelming.  You are making it exciting and perhaps a little easier to get through.

I was going to email you but I think your detailed and inclusive info will be enough for us to make some good excursion decisions.

David, Thank you again.

(Booked the Galapagos for July 2020. Have you been there? If so. Any helpful info?)

 

 

 

C20AB956-BAEC-45B7-98D1-7504304E3F26.jpeg

Jan 8 2018, Agincourt Reef (near Port Douglas)

 

 

Hello, Karen!  Of course I remember that you.  You and Mark were on the 14 night Reflection cruise with us this past January.  

 

We have yet to be lucky enough to go on a Galapagos cruise.  As you know, we cruise with our adult children and the cost for 4 is very expensive.  But it is a cruise I would like to do. 

 

I am glad you found this review helpful.  I was fortunate enough for others (e.g. @Suzi66) to post their excursion experiences as well.  Also @julielaw, who was on the 14 night Reflection cruise, was on this GBR sailing as well.  If you have any question or comments, feel free to email me at mahdnc at yahoo dot com.

 

This coming December we are going on a round trip New Zealand cruise out of Sydney.  So maybe you can email me with your experience!

 

I am sure that both cruises will be absolutely awesome for you.  

 

David

Edited by mahdnc
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David,

Awe how nice you remembered us. Hope you are all doing well (especially your daughter) and trying to stay warm.  Our oldest daughter and family live in Crystal Lake, so we feel for you all.

Thank you for the additional CC posts.  I’ll check them out.

And I’ll be glad to share our Galapagos Trip with you next year.

So nice to keep in touch. Mark says hi and thanks you for a great job on the spreadsheet and the CC party. He hopes to see you on a future cruise!

 

Take care,

Karen 

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Karen,

 

Our daughter got her cast off a few weeks ago and she is getting physical therapy for her wrist.  Thanks for asking.

 

And yes, I am ready for this Chicago winter to be over!

 

David

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On 5/16/2018 at 11:30 PM, cricketgirl said:

Great review, and a huge thanks for posting it - we are about to pull the trigger and book this same cruise for January 2020 and your review has been most helpful. Thanks!

Wer are booked on that cruise.

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David,

You have a lovely family. Your children are polite., courteous and outgoing. I am sure you are very proud.

i will be sure to get back to you not only on our Galapagos Trip but our 28 day cruise to Australia and New Zealand.

Stay warm,

Karen

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On 3/9/2019 at 1:23 PM, SweetSnickers said:

David,

You have a lovely family. Your children are polite., courteous and outgoing. I am sure you are very proud.

i will be sure to get back to you not only on our Galapagos Trip but our 28 day cruise to Australia and New Zealand.

Stay warm,

Karen

 

Thank you, Karen.  Those were very kind words.  I am looking forward to reading from you on both of your cruises--whether it be email and/or on Cruise Critic.

 

David

6E040FE5-8424-40FD-AAAF-C82D94084DF7.jpeg

Feb 2002, Infinity docked at St Thomas

Edited by mahdnc
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  • 1 year later...

I loved reading this review. Thank you so much,, This is a retirement cruise we are looking at in 2 years time alongside another one ..to do B2B .maybe Hawaii to Sydney .. I love reading reviews and always use them to plan my next trip. Thanks for taking the time to do it..how do I find your other reviews .. 

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23 hours ago, kellycrooner65 said:

I loved reading this review. Thank you so much,, This is a retirement cruise we are looking at in 2 years time alongside another one ..to do B2B .maybe Hawaii to Sydney .. I love reading reviews and always use them to plan my next trip. Thanks for taking the time to do it..how do I find your other reviews .. 

 

Thank you very much.  I didn't write too many reviews.  Here is what I have posted:

 

Photo Review: Dec 24 2016 Infinity 15 Night South America Holiday Cruise

 

Live Thread: Jan 2 2018 Solstice 12 Night Great Barrier Reef

Photo Review: Jan 2 2018 Solstice 12 Night Great Barrier Reef (this thread)

 

Live Thread: Jan 4 2019 Reflection 14 Night Exotic Southern Caribbean


Live Thread: Dec 23 2019 Solstice 12 Night New Zealand Holiday Cruise

Photo Review: Dec 23 2019 Solstice 12 Night New Zealand Holiday Cruise (under construction)

 

David

 

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Just read this review. It is so terrific. Thank you for the dedication it took to put it together! What a great escape from our crazy, sad 2020 world. Am looking for a similar trip down under in 2022 when, hopefully, the world will have returned to some form of normalcy.

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