Cruise day 41, Feb 14
Another fairly rough night at sea due to big swells and big winds (it’s getting old) had us arriving at another big city, Brisbane (pronounced Brisbin). The approach to the dock was long and slow, as it’s located several miles up the Brisbane River from where it meets the Coral Sea.
Brisbane Panorama Tour –
This was a 3-hour scenic motorcoach ride that showed off the downtown area, historic sights and the river before taking us to the top of Mount Coot-Tha for a panoramic view of Brisbane and its suburbs. From our perch at 755′, we saw the path of the Brisbane River which winds through the metropolitan area like a ribbon. It was evident that the city has worked hard to create contemporary architectural masterpieces that co-exist nicely alongside old heritage buildings.
With a population of close to 2.4 million people, we spent our time checking out the young and vibrant crowd that keep hundreds of restaurants and other businesses up and running. The number of huge high-rise apartment buildings here rivaled those we’ve seen in several major U.S. cities.
At the end of the tour we returned to the downtown area where folks could disembark for some shopping and dining, or stay on the bus for a ride back to the ship as we did.
We had our Valentine’s Day dinner out on the ship’s deck, where we watched a nice sunset in perfect weather. We had Blue Eye Cod for the first time, and it was excellent. Afterward I stayed up late with Mona Liza to attend a concert in the ship’s theater that featured a violinist (it was just OK), then off to bed for another night of rocking and rolling on the high seas – thankfully a bit more tame this time!
A Major Itinerary Change
Unfortunately, our dinner was interrupted by an important announcement from the captain (uh-oh). For the safety of passengers and crew, Viking was scrapping all of its Southeast Asia stops – Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Singapore – in addition to the already canceled ones at China and Hong Kong. Missing 14 great ports is obviously very disappointing not only for passengers but also for the many crew members who had made plans to meet with family and friends in those countries.
The Coronavirus mess is obviously beyond Viking’s control, and they are suffering a financial and logistical nightmare on this trip. So far the changes have added a stop at New Caledonia (Viking’s first time there), then a journey back to Cairns and Townsville, Australia. Several more stops will be moved around as well, in an attempt to get us to Bali, Indonesia on time for the hundreds of passengers originally scheduled to disembark in Hong Kong to do so in Bali.
A few days later passengers received a generous compensation package for all of the missed stops, and an offer to reimburse people who want to leave the cruise early. Even in this tough situation, the Viking Cruise line continues to come through, and for sure we’ll use the compensation to book a future cruise with them.