“In a word – Outstanding”
When we booked our cruise on Holland America’s MS Oosterdam, we knew the likelihood we’d ever be “down under” again was very low. So we looked at the shore excursions in Hobart with an eye toward experiencing as much as possible.
But the shore excursions offered by the ship were a) very expensive, and b) limited to just one area of interest.
So I got on Tripadvisor.com to see what was available.
I chose Great Expeditions based on the high ratings and on the itinerary they offered.
We were met at the pier, just as stated in emails, and met Samuel McLennan. He very quickly and professionally settled the account using a portable credit card reader and introduced us to our guide for the day, Hania. Hania is an energetic young woman and was a delightful guide.
Our itinerary began with a trip up Mt Wellington or as it is known in Hobart as “the mountain.”
The weather was not with us however and our view of the harbor was sketchy at best. Hania anticipated the wind and cold weather we would encounter at the summit and offered arctic jackets for all.
Our next stop was the Bonorong Wildlife Park, a private operation where most of the animals are rescued and brought to them. A complete list of animals would be impossible but we saw many exotic birds, wallabies, Tasmanian Devils, emus, koalas, and many others. We got to hand feed some brown kangaroos!
At our request, we stopped at Wicked Cheese and liked it so well, we bought cheese, wine, etc for a picnic lunch. Hania then took us to a picnic site next to the oldest bridge in Australia (just outside Richmond Village) where she produced a picnic basket complete with table cloth, wine glasses, etc!
Our final stop was at the Cascade Brewery. We didn’t tour the brewery. Instead, we accompanied “Louisa Reagan” on her walk. Two talented actors recreate the poignant story of Louisa. As we walked through the beautiful gardens of the brewery, we stopped every 150 feet or so and watched another chapter unfold. While the female actor consistently portrayed Louisa, her male counterpart shifted roles from constable, to judge, to sea captain, to prison guard, to physician as the part of the story demanded. Louisa was convicted and sentenced to 7 years in the women’s prison in VanDieman’s Island, as Tasmania was known then. Once in VanDieman;s Island, she was housed in the Women’s Factory, the ruins of which still exist.
Through all of this, Hania held our umbrellas (which she had produced magically from the back of her vehicle!) and kept us aware of the time – we did not want to miss the ship and told her we’d like to be back at least 1/2 hour early!
Hania was the quintessential hostess, anticipating and adjusting according to our needs and wishes.
If we return to Hobart, would we book with Great Expeditions again? Absolutely! In a “New York Minute!” And we’d see if Hania was available.