I recently returned from the Reefs and Rain Forests with Sailing tour in Australia which was from December 16-31, 2018 and there were several problems on the trip we experienced that warrant a significant partial refund. First off, our tour began in Sydney and spanned all the way to Cairns with the majority of time spent in the coach rather than actually getting to spend time exploring Australia as we paid for. Nowhere in any of the advertisements or included materials did it mention the lengthy travel times by coach and I feel this should be made clear to those looking to book this trip. There were 2 to 3 days where for 7-9 hours we were just on a coach bus which is not ideal when you are paying thousands of dollars to be touring Australia. The trip should eliminate stops or fly between locations to make the most of people's time and to increase value.
The second issue I had was with the sailing portion. On the website and in the materials I received it showcased the boat we would be sailing and living on for 2 days as a luxury yacht. The boat we were on was anything but a luxury yacht and was in fact a racing boat with very cramped and extremely hot quarters. The weather also was windy with rain which made it choppy and not an ideal sailing trip. There was nowhere for all 17 of us to go when the rain set in. We either got wet from the rain being on the top deck or melted from being below in the sweltering lower deck area. When several people requested to get off the boats due to false advertising of what the sailing portion of the trip was supposed to be, myself included, we were forced to pay for our own hotel room of $173 AUD at the same hotel the rest of our group who had chosen not to do the sailing portion were at. I feel I should be refunded for the cost of the hotel room and then some as the sailing portion was an additional $200-$300 USD I paid for before the trip and I did not stay on the boat the full two days. Our tour guide, Sian, who was very lovely otherwise, actually met with the group who did not do the sailing excursion and told them people getting off the sailing boats never happens and they should not let us share their hotels rooms but have to pay for their own. Coming back and finding that out was very disappointing since the guides on our sailing tour actually expressed people leaving the boat tour happens a lot, especially with Contiki, since they do not properly advertise the trip. I feel it was wrong of our guide to say people never leave the boats in order to save face for Contiki when the people on the boats heard the truth that it does happen a lot from our guides. When we mentioned our concerns to Sian prior to actually leaving the boats she contacted the sailing vendor and told them we were not having a good time on the trip and our guides got into trouble with their manager. Our guides were actually very nice and fun to be with and the wrath they got was unjustified. Contiki is at fault for not advertising it properly as a sailing vessel and should include photos of what the boats actually looks like inside. Furthermore, it lists we visit Airlie Beach which the only place in Airlie Beach we get to see is the marina. I was under the impression we'd actually get to go and see the town which only happened because I got off the boat. I think the sailing portion should be refunded as the weather was not great to actually sail, the boat was not as advertised, and we did not get to see all that was listed in the itinerary.
Lastly, the last two days we were supposed to go to Cape Tribulation but as the one road to go there was flooded we were not able to go. We were then forced to stay in Cairns for an additional 2 nights and the planned activities Contiki came up with were lackluster at best. The majority of the group had to come up and pay for their own activities on those days since Contiki did not have a fall back planned lined up ahead of time. Sian had to think on her feet of things to do. I think we should get money back for this as well since we did not actually get to travel to see Cape Tribulation and I had to pay out of pocket to do anything worthwhile back in Cairns where we were stuck.