Port of Vancouver is the leading homeport for Alaska cruises and acts as a home base one-way and round-trip cruises through the Inside Passage. The port is one of the few in the world that have adopted the “Shore Power” program, which decreases the marine diesel air emissions by allowing the cruise ships to switch off their engines while at port and connect to the shore-based electrical grid.
The cruise terminal is called Canada Place and it’s located in downtown Vancouver, close to restaurants, shopping and all attractions Vancouver has to offer. The terminal has three berths and welcomes 900,000 passengers a year. The modern terminal administration building offers all standard services for cruise passengers, such as security screening, luggage drop-off and storage, long and short-term parking, restrooms, a snack shop, a sightseeing tours desk, and a car-rental desk. Canada Place is also the first cruise port facility with 10 BorderXpress APC kiosks (“Automated Passport Control”). Passengers embarking in Vancouver are considered to be entering the United States when boarding the ship, so you will go through US Customs and Border Protection. The cruise terminal is conveniently located only 30 min by car from the International Airport (16km away). There are a few public transportation options available, the Waterfront station of the Skytrain is right outside and there is a bust stop 5 minutes walking distance away.
The local currency is Canadian dollar (CAD) and exchanging money is easy and straight-forward. There are banks and ATMs at every corner, but the best exchange rates seem to be at the exchange shops on Granville Street. Make sure you check for commission and other fees. All major credit cards are widely accepted, and you can also use your debit card to draw cash from an ATM, but make sure you have notified your bank you would be abroad and are aware of any fees that the bank may charge you.
The opening hours in Vancouver are quite standard, most shops and shopping malls would work all week from 9.30 am to 6 pm or 8pm. Some outlets have extended summer hours. Banks and post offices are open 9 am to 5 pm, some of them have extended hours on Friday, are open until midday Saturday as well and are mostly closed on Sundays. There are several national and international bank holidays as well, so make sure you are aware of those before travelling.
The tipping culture in Canada is like the one in the USA. Tipping between 15 and 20% is considered normal and the service is excellent as most people working in the service industry receive low wages and rely heavily on tips. Tip between 15 and 20 % at a restaurant if you have received good service – if the service was not at par, talk to the manager, he would 99% resolve the matter for you. Tipping at counter service isn’t expected. Tip housekeepers and bellboys at hotels about 1-2 Canadian dollars per day/per bag. Tip bartenders from 0.50 to 2 CAD per drink, depending on the venue and tip taxi drivers, spa staff and tour guides 10-15% as well.
The local time in Vancouver BC is GMT – 7 hours and the dialling code is 00 1 604.
Things To Do
Stanley Park is a gem of a park, the third largest in North America, and the proudest possession of Vancouverites. This 405-hectare green space has been a city park since 1886 and is named after Lord Stanley, a British politician that was then appointed Governor General. The park is almost entirely surrounded by water and features lovely beaches, miles of maintained paved and dirt roads and attractions, such as a polar bear exhibit, the Vancouver Aquarium and a miniature train.
The most loved and visited museum in Vancouver is the Museum of Anthropology at the British Columbia University (MOA). The museum is committed to promoting awareness and understanding of culturally diverse ways of knowing the world through innovative programs and partnerships with Indigenous, local and global communities. The museum is renowned for displaying works by world artists, in particular works by First Nation band Governments of the Pacific Northwest. MOA exhibits 50,000 ethnographic and 535,000 archaeological objects. One of the most prised possessions of the museum is Billie Reid’s sculpture The Raven and The First Men, commissioned especially for the museum by the artist-descendant of the Haida ingenious people.
The historic neighbourhood of Gastown is in fact the first, authentic settlement of Vancouver. This is where the history of the city began in 1867. An entrepreneur-seaman, steamboat captain and barkeeper called John “Gassy Jack” Deighton arrived here and opened the area’s first saloon for the ever-thirsty loggers, fishermen, crews and captains of the sailing ships. The town, then called Granville was nicknamed Gastown in his honour. The town grew and prospered and was incorporated as the city of the Vancouver in 1886. That same year a great fire took all but two of the buildings, but the town was quickly rebuilt and continued to thrive. Today, the area is not only known by its historic charm, but also for its independent spirit, thriving fashion scene, unique and quirky galleries and some of the best artisan food in Vancouver.
The aesthetes shouldn’t miss Vancouver Art Gallery – the largest of Western Canada and the fifth largest in Canada. It’s famous with hosting a permanent collection of 11,000 artworks by more than 200 artists, including Emily Carr, the Group of Seven, Jeff Wall, Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan and Marc Chagall. The Vancouver Police Museum will take you behind the scenes of Vancouver’s local law enforcement, while showing you rare and quirky artefacts, document and collections of the city’s original Coroner’s Court building, all in the former city morgue!
There are so many wonderful outdoor attractions to see in and near the city of Vancouver, loved by locals and visitors alike. The Queen Elizabeth Park is the heart of the city, elevated at 152m (500 feet) above sea level and offers beautiful views of the city. Head over to Kitsilano or Spanish BanksBeach for a quintessential Vancouver beach experience. The VanDusen Botanical Gardens are another green oasis in the city of Vancouver, where you can admire the 7,500 plants and varieties, lose yourself in the hedge maze or bring a picnic and relax in the serene settings. Get to Grouse Mountain in minutes by the Skyride, or the complimentary shuttle from downtown Vancouver and see the jaw-dropping majestic nature and wildlife of British Columbia. The privately-owned Capilano suspension bridge is crossing the Capilano River and the District of North Vancouver, BC, offering a bird’s eye view to the 27 acres of nature above the river.
If you prefer the urban adventure rather than the out-of-city one, head over to Granville Island, famous for its public market, open every day and selling some delicious artisan food and drink, arts and crafts by local artists and cultural performances. Check out the Vancouver Lookout for that perfect picture opportunity at 170 metres (450ft) high and enjoy views of historic Gastown and bustling Coal Harbour. For some luxury shopping, go to Robson Street for all high-end international brands.
Vancouver is a great place to start off any wildlife adventure. If your time is limited, you can get a taster by going whale watching for a day - the season starts in April and finishes in October. Most of the boats depart from the Coal Harbour or Granville Island and offer 90% to see whales. The stars of the show are the orcas, but there are also humpback, gray and minke whales, as well as a range of seabirds. Take a tour to the Pam Rocks to see some seals, sunning themselves on the rocks and combine it with a visit to the Christie Islet Bird Sanctuary.
All Cruises and Flight details are subject to availability and price variation. Final package price is available upon payment of deposit and confirming your ATOL & ABTA protected cruise holiday