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Author: fleetfoot

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 45
Traveler Since: 2006

May 23, 2011

Huge waves swamp hotel rooms in Fiji.  The worst affected property appeared to be the Shangri La's Fijian Resort, where water went into 30 rooms, 10 of which were occupied by tourists.  This is the hotel resort that GCT uses for their Australia, New Zealand & Fiji trip.
 

http://www.smh.com.au/travel/travel-news/huge-waves-swamp-hotel-rooms-in-fiji-20110520-1ewfa.html

Author: rosedith

Joined: 2/23/2011
Posts: 6
Traveler Since: 2011

May 26, 2011

We were just at the resort from the day after the flooding until Tuesday and the only effect that we saw was some standing water around the road that leads into the resort.  We were in a second floor room so maybe they are repairing some of the first floor rooms.  Anyway, the weather was BEAUTIFUL while we were there and the whole Fiji experience was fantastic. 

Author: fleetfoot

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 45
Traveler Since: 2006

May 26, 2011

rosedith,

Thanks for the update.  We'll be at this resort in October.  We are really looking forward to our Australia, New Zealand & Fiji trip.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 511
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

May 27, 2011

I had a ground floor room at the Shangra La and am trying to visualize huge waves coming across the beach and yard and into the rooms. I loved sitting on the patio and listening to the waves gently break over the reef. I walked on the beach by my room and collected shells. I thought Fiji and the Shangra La was heavenly and a wonderful ending to a busy trip.

Have a wonderful trip -- don't miss Milford Sound in NZ. 

Author: fleetfoot

Joined: 3/10/2010
Posts: 45
Traveler Since: 2006

May 27, 2011

luisa,

We have already pre-paid our optional Milford Sound Cruise and are just hoping that the weather will be great that day.  I've read some mixed reviews on the Fiji portion of this trip so it's good to hear some very positive comments about Fiji.  Thanks for your reply.

Author: grammyflo

Joined: 3/15/2010
Posts: 164
Traveler Since: 2002

May 28, 2011

Milford Sound is definitely not to be missed.  We stayed at the Warwick Fiji when we took this GCT trip. I thought I was in heaven.  We also took the 3 day cruise around the islands. The snorkeling was outstanding, the ship's crew was also. The Figiians took good care of us and their farewell song to you will bring tears.  Three outstanding places, Australia, New Zealand ( my husband's dream trip) and Fiji is one of our fondest GCT trip memories. The native ceremonies in all three places are unforgetable!  Enjoy.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 511
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

May 29, 2011

My first thought about "mixed reviews" of the Fiji portion was "Who wouldn't like the Shangra La?" but then I remembered a couple of people complaining about the humidity and staying inside in the A/C. However, most in our group participated in the activities offered and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere. The staff is wonderful, friendly and helpful. I wished for another day there.

I took the trip two years ago when currency exchange was very favorable for us, don't know what it is now. I had two wonderful massages and spent time outside. I had an excellent fresh fish dinner at a very reasonale price at the beach restaurant and many of the group enjoyed drinks and gorgeous sunsets on the terrace of another restaurant. 

Warning, be careful of the sun, a few people got bad burns while hanging out at the pool despite using lotion.

I thought Fiji was a wonderful finish to a great, but busy, trip with some long bus rides and waits in airports and it gave us time to decompress before heading back to LAX. I  loved meeting the Fijians -- as I said, the staff at the resort is wonderful, the children at the school were a delight and the home-hosted lunch was good and interesting as well

The ride from Queenstown (one of my favorite locations) to Milford Sound is long, but beautiful and well worth the time. I hope you get good weather and have a wonderful trip.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

May 29, 2011

I've been to Milford Sound twice, once from Queenstown and once from Te Anau when I was staying with a friend.  The weather can be different on either end.  But if it has rained recently in the area of the Milford Track and the Sound, the waterfalls will be spectacular.  

When you take the SS Earnslaw to Walter Peak Station, you'll hear a lot of commentary about the lake.  And coming back, they hand out song sheets while someone plays the piano and everybody sings.  Ending up with "Now is the Hour" as you pull into the ferry dock.  Quite an experience.

Author: rosedith

Joined: 2/23/2011
Posts: 6
Traveler Since: 2011

June 06, 2011

 I loved Fiji and like others have said, it was an excellent chance to wind down after all the travel and excitement of the trip.  The school and home visits might not please some people as they are real life experiences and the people of Fiji don't live like the average American does. These visits were much more important to me than I thought they would be and it brings tears to my eyes thinking of the bright children at the local school.  

The resort is in a fabulous location--truly paradise for us city dwellers.  I was pleased to find that the last travel day is really a spare day with nothing scheduled at the resort as we didn't have to leave until late in the afternoon.  It gave us a chance to really enjoy the beach and the boating activities (the catamaran and kayaks are FREE!).  I took a guided snorkling trip which was great but did not compare to the amazing beauty of the Great Barrier Reef--that's my don't miss tip!

Author: nardothegreat

Joined: 7/30/2011
Posts: 4
Countries Visited:

USA, Mexico, Caribbean Islands, Switzerland, France, and Italy

Traveler Since: 2011

July 30, 2011

I'm a first time GC traveler and solo!  I'm looking forward to EVERYTHING !   Would it be exhausting to sign up for all the excursions?   Which  ones are "do not miss" ?   How cold is it really in November and do I really need no dressy clothes in Sydney.  ???  Questions, questions, questions.

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

July 30, 2011

You definitely don't need dressy clothes in Sydney.  Australia is a very casual country.  In fact, I can't think of anywhere in the world that requires dressy clothes except, possibly, an expensive cruise on a formal night.  Or, if you were invited to the races during the Melbourne Cup.  Or, if you were attending a formal wedding.

November in Australia is the same as May in the US.  Some days will be very hot and some not.  Like everywhere, temperatures have changed.  They do get fires in the outlying areas, especially where the eucalyptus trees are so plentiful.  The oil in the trees makes them vulnerable.

Sign up for as many of the optional tours as you can.  If you decide to change your mind, you can always cancel a few.  After all, when will you be there again?

 

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 511
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

July 30, 2011

Comfortable, casual clothes will be fine. On some trips that I've taken people dress up a bit for the farewell dinner, but did not on this trip since it was in Fiji. Some of us had bought brightly colored sarongs in the town and wrapped them around our waists. Others wore whatever they'd brought for Fiji and wore the shell beads we were given.

You're in for a great trip to three wonderful countries. I don't recall how many optionals there were, but you can decide what you want to do when you get there. I missed the aquarium visit in Sydney because I had not yet recovered from all the flights to get there. Those who went said it was wonderful and I'm sorry I missed it. I did take the harbor tour and enjoyed it. I took the tour that includes the skyrail and a visit to an Aborigine site and it was great. I did not do the balloon ride, not many did and I don't recall comments about it. I skipped the jet boat ride in Queenstown and  once again, those who did it enjoyed it.

I think optionals depend on your interests but on this trip the don't miss is Milford Sound.

Have a wonderful trip, I think you'll love this one.

Author: nardothegreat

Joined: 7/30/2011
Posts: 4
Countries Visited:

USA, Mexico, Caribbean Islands, Switzerland, France, and Italy

Traveler Since: 2011

August 07, 2011

Thanks for the information.  I am reading all the travel books about this trip's locations and don't want to miss anything !  So far the only doubt in my mind is the idea of being solo.  Dinners on my own are a bit of a stumbling block.  Well, onward and forward......

I was told to bring a waterproof jacket and a vest with pockets ???  Also, a backpack....  Should there be specifics with these as I do have to buy them.  Perhaps my golf rain jacket  would suffice.   (I like to get my ducks in a row....)    Mixed metaphors......sorry.....

Author: pauline

Joined: 3/9/2010
Posts: 958
Countries Visited:

England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Malta, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, China, Mexico, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Canada, Russia, Ukraine

Traveler Since: 1999

August 07, 2011

My trips to "Down Under" were always with a close friend.  We never took one of the tours, just traveled on our own.  She's gone now, and it's not the way I could go on my own.  However, we were in Australia three times and New Zealand four times, never in Fiji.

I don't know who gave you the advice about the vest with pockets.  Did they give you a reason for that?  Since we always went in our winter/their summer, I wore a water resistant jacket with a zip-out lining and a hood.  Not really warm enough for a New England winter, but without the lining it was all right for southern New Zealand.  I also packed a lighter weight water resistant jacket with a hood.  Sydney and Melbourne can be very hot in the summer.  The last time we were there was in a January, and even the locals said it was unusually hot.  Another year, it was so cold in New Zealand in December I had to buy a fleece jacket.

According to the itinerary, a lot of your dinners are included.  Either that or part of an optional tour.  And if lunch is part of an optional, such as the Sydney Harbor Cruise, that's pretty substantial and could be your main meal of the day.  I've traveled solo twice now and have booked another trip for next year.  In my experience, others in the group are very friendly and make you welcome.

Author: luisa

Joined: 3/13/2010
Posts: 511
Countries Visited:

Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Canada, Mexico, Spain, France, Monoco, Croatia, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Chile, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji

Traveler Since: 2006

August 07, 2011

I traveled solo and there was one other solo woman and a few women traveling together, (mother and daughter, two close friends). You'll get to know people quickly and will have people to eat with if you want.

Eating alone does not bother me and I like getting out and exploring on my own and it's safe to do that in all the cities on the tour and there are numerous dining options. There were several group meals, which tend to be long with more food than I need, so I was happy to find places to eat on my own when meals were not included. I also like to get out and walk around after a long day on the bus.

In Sydney I walked from the hotel to China Town and got delicious take out, and sat on a bench watching the crowds go by. In Cairns I walked down the street to the night market and got noodles with shrimp and saw several people from the group wandering around the market. The night before we left Sydney I got take out from the hotel restaurant and ate in my room while enjoying a wonderful view of the city. The first night in Fiji I went to the lagoon side restaurant and had a wonderful grilled fish dinner. The last night in Fiji (packing night) I got room service and ate outside on the patio and listened to the waves lapping over the reef. One lunch in Fiji I joined five or six people at the lagoon restaurant.

I had a wonderful vegetarian sandwich for lunch at the cafe at the arts center in Christchurch. You won't be going there but I'm sure you'll find something in Rotarua. In Queenstown a few people were going for pizza, but I don't eat it, so found a vegetarian restaurant and had a great salad.

You don't need a backpack; only one person in our full group used a backpack, use whatever you usually do when traveling. You will need a rainjacket, the one you have sounds fine. I don't think you need a vest with pockets. I have a Columbia cotton vest that I sometimes use and keep my money in the chest pocket and my small camera in another pocket -- I like it for times that I don't want to carry a purse but it certainly isn't essential.

Sorry this ran so long, I just wanted to let you know that there are many options for meals.

You have a great trip ahead, just go and enjoy.

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