(Expectation: When I visited the Puffing Billy with my mother in the past, we were taken on a walk around the surrounds of the stations to hear native birds, explore the rainforest etc, before a long ride through the forest on the steam ... Read More
(Expectation: When I visited the Puffing Billy with my mother in the past, we were taken on a walk around the surrounds of the stations to hear native birds, explore the rainforest etc, before a long ride through the forest on the steam train).
This ended up being a US $450 / AUD $600 family trip for a 25 minute train ride!
The gory details:
The guide for the day, Helmut, when he gave information at all on the bus trip to the Dandenongs, was simply reading from an ipad, and kept dropping the microphone too low for us to hear. We arrived 45 minutes before train was due to depart, but were not told this. We were taken to the platform, given our tickets, and then sat in the stationary train staring at each other for 45 minutes waiting to depart, when we could have been walking in the nearby forest or enjoying morning tea in the cafe.
The train finally left, and we rode to the first station (there are 5 in total). We were then ordered off the train, and loaded back on the tour bus, where we sat for 30 minutes staring at each other again. We then drove IN THE BUS following the train to the next 2 stations. No information was given. (It turns out we were looking for the only passenger smart enough to stay on the train !)
There was no refreshment or lunch stop - not even a bottle of water. We then drove bak to Melbourne (almost an hour) while the guide sat and looked out the window, givng no history or info at all. When asked "Where are we; what's happening..?" the answer was simply "We are going back to the boat."
The a passenger asked to be dropped off in Melbourne City. So ON AUSTRALIA DAY, the bus drove (into traffic gridlock and closed streets due to pubic holiday and parades) in Melbourne CBD to drop him off, then we sat for another hour in the traffic. Still no information was given at any time. (Any Aussie on the bus could have given a better commentary, with info about Melbourne, Governor Philip, Australian history etc, than this guide.
We arrived back at the ship 6 hours after we left - from a 25 minute train ride, 45 minutes sitting in a station, 30 minutes sitting in a bus going nowhere, 60 minutes in traffic we were not supposed to be in, and 3 1/2 hours of staring out the bus window at the Melbourne Freeway - no water, no toilet breaks, no commentary.
...and when we lined up with the other passengers from that day to complain to RC guest services, they tried to offer a 10% discount on the cost of the tour! Read Less