Sorry to hear you had a bad time at the gardens. With all the ships now hitting Alaska and with the newer ships getting supersized, this type of situation will unfortunately become more common. When last in Victoria, ours was the only ship in port, so we rode in doubledecker buses and the experience was way different (although I agree BG is a bit touristy).
May I sugest that to avoid the mooing, you might want to pick smaller ships then investigate on sites like VTG that can give you a picture of where all the fleets are sailing. With a little inquiry you can discover when places will get mobbed by coordinating the ships itineraries. You can also go to the ports on the web to find when ships will flood a port, but the VTG method where everything is in one place is far easier. 8)
Originally Posted by Dianeisme313
We just got back from our cruise yesterday July 15th. It was a wonderful relaxed cruise.
Saturday night we had a horrible experience with a ship booked excursion to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, Canada. We were on a large Vista ship and there was two other large cruise ships in port too. Our ship had everyone go to the Vista Lounge and we left from there for our excursions. Butchart Gardens was last. We slowly threaded our way to off the ship like cattle. Then we were herded onto Greyhound busses. Our bus happen to be the last to leave and it got warm on there, despite a cool breeze we were met with coming off the ship. The gardens were warm too, and I had my alaska clothing on still.
The bus driver told us all that we were passing and it was informative. I was looking for Empress Hotel and parliment style buildings, but we didn't pass those going out. We slowly made our way into a very crowded parking lot. Parking lot packed with busses that should have been our first hint of what was to come.
We got in with a crowd of people entering the Gardens, I thought okay this will thin out as we get further into the Gardens. It did not. We were packed into that garden all the way thru. I never seen so many people in one place in my life. So many people on all the paths.
There was one place where people were sitting on blankets listening to a musical group. This wasn't crowded, but who had time to sit down, listen and relax. We had 2 1/2 hours to see Butchart Gardens. The flowers were pretty. PUt to be treated like a herd of cows and herded around to see the flowers. I think not.
Anyway, at the end I was so thirsty so we got a bottle of water and I got a bottle of coke. Paid $6 for that. $42 for the souvenirs, 3 shot glasses, 3 cheap ink pens, 2 cheap keychains with tiny little furry teddy bears on them. Can anyone say tourist trap? That's what I think of when I think of Butchart Gardens. We left before the fireworks, we left before it got dark and we could see the enchantment of lighted gardens. Some of the descriptions of Butchart Gardens on the ship excursion website.
On the way back the bus driver took a different route. We saw the old China town, the lighted Parliment Building and the Empress Hotel. The bus driver again was explaing where we were and the history of different things.
We will get off the ship and just walk around next time. No more ship booked excursions for me. That was a hard earned lesson, but a well learned lesson.
We booked our own excurion in Juneau, Alaska and it was fantastic. We saw lots of whales, orcas, eagles and seals. This excursion had our ship's naturalist on it and he was explaining everything to us. This group of people running this excursion limits the amount of people they will book at a time on a boat. It wasn't crowded at all. No herding of people around. Very, very nice people. I just loved the people in Alaska, and the people on our ship. So friendly so different than what I expected on a Holland ship. Just thumbs down to Butchart Gardens in Victoria Gardens. Hope I save at least one person from this fate.