We ended up not even using our bus tickets. We waited at the first pickup spot & the bus was 45 minutes behind schedule... so we walked down the street and purchased tickets from a different Hop On/Hop Off bus tour company that was double decker and running more often. As we stood there waiting for our bus, down the street we could see that other company picked up 3 times. We did use our castle entrance tickets though. That is well worth seeing!
First off let me say that this bus is the "Big Bus Victoria" (not the Grayline Hop-on-hop-off that we wish we had booked).
We were looking for something easy from the cruise ship that would get us around and make the most of our limited time … this wasn't it. There were 2 ships in town and the busses were crowded (not to mention that there was NO leg room for the seats. Seriously -- only about 8-10" at the most! The bus was single level and only about 5 rows were covered (~20 seats) from sun and elements -- the approx. 15 rows behind that were exposed, but only the very rear rows didn't have views obstructed by the cover of the front rows -- bad design!
The cruise stop is #12 of 21 and when we went to show our tickets we were told we would have to show them at their downtown HQ (stop #1)… the busses only run every 45 minutes, but the Craigdarroch Castle was stop #20 (2 stops BEFORE where you exchange your Viator receipt for a ticket). We asked the bus driver (Mel -- VERY rude and none-too hygienic) but he had no clue whether the Castle would accept our pass or if we would have to stay on for 2 more stops and then ride another 20 before getting back to the Castle with our ticket. When I took his picture and asked for his name, he got very testy and finally agreed to call HQ -- they didn't know either!!! Thankfully we took a chance and the Castle did accept our Viator receipt. When I went to discuss this with a supervisor -- once we got on a very crowded bus from the Castle to their HQ,-- she said she was surprised the Castle took it and didn't know much either! Didn't care about Mel's attitude or have any concern for our time constraints.
Finally, there was no savings in booking this combo tour -- the full retail prices of both options separately was the same in Canadian as we paid Viator in USD -- in other words, I'd say Viator got the benefit of the exchange rate on top of any booking commission!
If you're traveling from a cruise ship and want to do a hop-on-hop-off; book the Grayline double decker which appeared to have much nicer seats and leg room. You can pay for it on the bus instead of pre-booking and you can pay for the castle when you arrive -- no big deal. BTW, the castle was just OK … a bit ho-hum unless you're into the history and antiques. It's easily done in about 30 min. and a bit over-priced at $15.00 Canadian and ABSOLUTELY overpriced at $15 USD.
If you want a quick way to see many sites and visit a few, this tour may work for you. Don't plan on getting off at more than 3 or 4 stops as you'll need to spend a least 40 minutes (or double that) before you pick up the next bus. We found it a good way to determine where we wanted to spend more time so I'd suggest doing this tour on your first day. If nothing else, the pass to the Craigdarroch Castle is worth the cost if you enjoy seeing historically extravagant dwellings. The recorded dialogue on the tour buses is mildly entertaining and makes the road time in between sites go faster.
I've been trying to contact you regarding this outing which was not available when we arrived.
The buses stopped running at 5 and we didn't arrive until 7. Your summary did not include that detail and I would like to receive a refund
This tour is not convenient for cruise ship guests unless you walk 20 minutes to downtown to redeem your voucher for tickets to the castle or bus ticket. The cruise pick up point is #12. The castle is stop #21. You are not able to enter the castle without your voucher which will have to be redeemed at stop #1. This makes for loss of time by 1.5 hours. Driver was rude and not so helpful. Overall the hop on hop bus tour was informative. Great without the castle pass.
The island of Victoria is very pretty. Is bigger than I expected. Getting there requires taking a ferry which is a 90 minute ride. The ferry has comfortable seating and places to eat and shop. A bus takes you to downtown Victoria which is another 45 minute ride, so he prepared for that. I didn’t know. One of the HOHO buses was down, so there was only one available. That meant a longer wait if you got off at a stop, so no one got off during my tour. There is a lot of construction, I meant a lot of construction, in Vancouver and surrounding areas and Victoria. Construction caused slight detours. Some of the “attractions” can’t be seen for all the trees and bushes to hide them.
Overall, it was a good tour even though we didn’t get off. The bus stops for a few seconds for pictures.