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Very nice overall, hotel was excellent, seaplane ride was very good, bus driver did a great job, the only problem was at the end of the seaplane ride. The confirmation for the trip reads as follows: "When you fly into the Harbour Air Dock .... tell them you are looking for their courtesy shuttle back to your downtown Vancouver hotel." We expected to be dropped off at our downtown hotel, but instead the shuttle only went to a certain spot in downtown and we then had to take a taxi the rest of the way to get to our hotel. The cost of the taxi with tip was only about $20 but it was the surprise and inconvenience of getting out of the shuttle and then getting a taxi. Otherwise it was a very good trip.
This review concerns mainly the tour operator’s performance not the price or Victoria or Butchart Gardens: Problems we had were a) not enough time at Butchart Gardens b) the promise that Harbour Air would return us to our Vancouver hotel was not kept.
a) We didn’t have enough time at Butchart Gardens because the ferry was late, however the tour only allows about 2 hours in the Gardens anyway. The tour operator couldn’t control the ferry, but the schedule was too tight, in my opinion.
b) the flight on Harbour Air was amazing and fun, but Harbour Air seemed surprised that they were asked to provide us a ride back to our hotel, and in fact though Harbour Air does provide a shuttle to some downtown hotels they didn’t go to ours..so we had to get a cab.
Overall had a great time. One tip: if you want to visit the Gardens a second day, they charge you only $3.50 per person with your old ticket. Also a public bus goes to and from the Gardens and is quite good value at $5 for a senior day pass. ( bus takes 1 hour to and from)
We found the Fairmont Empress Victoria staff very helpful but not quite as friendly as the Fairmont Whistler staff. For example at the end of the Gardens tour on return to Victoria you are given vouchers for the hotel, Harbour Air flight, and the cab from Hotel to Harbour Air. I asked the Empress concierge to call Bluebird Cabs to pick us up and she said, “Well, it’s a 3 minute walk to Harbour Air or 5 minutes by cab...” When you have luggage even for just overnight walking across busy streets and tourist crowded sidewalks isn’t fun.
The vouchers are hand written by the tour guide and not preprinted so it has a feel of not quite being ‘real’, though they were accepted without question.
FYI regarding Victoria food: everyone recommended Nautical Nelly’s and the food is good but they are very busy, however 2 people can be seated at the bar quickly even without reservations (but... it’s not a long bar). For after Gardens tour drinks the patio pub by the Tourist Information Office is great (as were the people in the Tourist Information Office).
Perfect tour for two days. Experienced the ferry to get there, and seaplane to return, which were both fun. Loved the ease of being taken to Butchart Gardens, which was beautiful, and then having plenty of time the next day for Parliament and the BC Museum on our own. And of course the Fairmont Empress was lovely and luxurious. Perfect trip!
This was a wonderful short stay for anyone who wants to take in the best of Victoria. The shuttle picked us up at our hotel and our driver/guide Henry was just wonderful. He was very funny and extremely knowledgeable. The ferry ride over to Victoria was easy and enjoyable and after we arrived we were taken for a short familiarisation drive through Victoria and then on to Butchart Gardens. Everything you read about this place is true - it's amazing.
Our accommodation at the Fairmont Empress was a treat. It has recently been refurbished and the rooms are lovely. After our overnight stay we checked out but the Fairmont was happy to store our luggage until later in the day when we came back to collect it prior to our float plane ride home. The float plane was also a highlight for us.
The trip was great. We had a nice ferry ride over and sat in the bow area of the ferry and had a good buffet breakfast. Butchart gardens is beautiful. We then checked into the Empress hotel, which is a grand old hotel and huge. We had a geat room. We explored Chinatown and a nice dinner a Finn's on the water, Next day we went to the Royal British museum, which had great exhibits of the native people of Canada. Then we did a Bose electric boat ride to explore the channel in downtown Victoria. Ask for Buz for your captain. He is a wealth of information on the area of Victoria, as he grew up there and had lots of stories from his childhood to adulthood growing up on the water. Then my husband got to sit in the co-pilot seat on the seaplane home. What a trip. Viator took care of everything and it went so smoothly. Highly recommend this tour.
This was an awesome tour - from the minute they picked us up from when they dropped us off! I'd highly recommend anyone to take this incredible tour and with so many good things, I have to say the float plane was one of the best! The guide was very nice and knowledgeable as well. Fun time!