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Vancouver is the main southern terminus for the Summer Alaska Cruise ship season. (One cruise line uses San Francisco, but goes to Alaska via Victoria). From the beginning of May until the end of September, this is a very busy place for cruises. There are only about 7 or 8 days during this period when there is not a departure (usually mid week). On the weekends there are usually 3 or 4 departures on each day. Below are links to some of the Cruise ship companies operating out of Vancouver. Some of you might ask, what is a cruise section doing in a Backpackers web site (its actually evolved beyond that). Well, you can also take a "Poor Mans" cruise on BC Ferries. These are surprisingly good value for money. You can journey up the spectacular BC coast and back for just a couple of hundred dollars. Its not the Love Boat, but you get a cabin and you don't have to dress for dinner. This Web Site has now grown to the point where I am now catering to all levels of traveler, from the backpacker, to the filthy rich, hence the Cruise section.
You might wonder why Vancouver is the principal southern terminus for Alaska Cruises, rather than Seattle, 100 miles to the south. This has occurred due to a rather odd US Federal law that states that foreign flagged passenger vessels may not sail from one US port to another without a foreign stop in between. For reasons of economics, nearly all cruise ships are foreign flagged. This law has been of great benefit to Vancouver, at the expense of Seattle, which would dearly love the cruise ship business. Fortunately for the cruise ship passenger, Vancouver is a destination in and of itself, and is generally more interesting and scenic than Seattle. (Not to berate Seattle, which is a lovely city, but really does not come close to Vancouver's assets). Seattle has, however, in the last couple of years managed to snag its share, especially, one week cruises. They have built one cruise ship facility & are planning another. It is unlikely that Seattle will ever overtake Vancouver, but it is certainly cutting into Vancouver's share. After September 11th, some Americans feel more secure staying in their own country (I don't know why, they are trying to kill Americans, not Canadians), so Seattle might be a more favored departure point for some. If you can't make up your minds, just remember that your friends will be more impressed if you can say you went abroad for your holidays rather than just somewhere else in the US. These things are important.
Unfortunately for the tourist industry here, a lot of cruise ship passengers fly into Vancouver, transfer to their ship, and spend virtually no time seeing Vancouver itself. I hate to say it, but since most cruise ship passengers are American, this seems to fit a pattern of lack of knowledge about Canada, that a lot of Americans unfortunately have. I don't know if is the result of an insular education system, lack of exposure about Canada in the American media, or what. Believe it or not, I have come across Americans, who thought we still all lived in log cabins. A lot of American visitors are very surprised when they first see this city, and many comment on its similarities to San Francisco. Fact is, your average Canadian is virtually indistinguishable from your average American and our cultures are probably closer to each other than between any other two countries in the world. Canadians are supposed to be politer, but I get better service in restaurants in the US, so that one is a myth. Many Americans are also not aware that they have seen Vancouver hundreds of times on TV or in the movies, since this city is where a large number of American television shows are filmed, although it is usually depicted as Seattle or San Francisco. I hope, via this web site, to convince you that you should try to spend at least 3 days here, preferably a week. Unlike some some parts of the world these days, we love Americans. You might also want to read my "Canada Facts" section. Its quite tongue-in-cheek, but you will certainly impress us local yokels with knowledge, if you pick up some of information there.
The main Vancouver Cruise ship terminus is located downtown at the foot of Granville Street at the Convention Center. (the building that looks like a sailing ship). Some depart from Ballentyne Pier. Unfortunately you have to travel through what is probably the worst area of the city to get to that one. If you depart on a cruise during late July or Early August, you may be lucky enough to coincide with the Annual Symphony of Fire fireworks display, which runs over several days (I post the dates in my Things to See & Do section). Most cruise ships in port at this time will anchor out in English Bay, giving passengers a front row seat.
If you are driving to Vancouver and need to store your car during your cruise, it will cost you about $65 a week downtown (secured) or you can do it cheaper by storing it at the Airport for about $35 a week (outside, but secure). There are links to both these services in the table below. Multiply the amounts above by 0.65 for the US dollar equivalents.
MalRob Limousine provides limousine service to & from the terminal from the airport or elsewhere.
I would suggest you check out the links below to Ken Stutt's web site. This is the best all round site I have seen for those interested in taking a cruise. It contains a tremendous amount of information, and it appears to be always up to date.
Check out my section on the Airport for information on getting Downtown from there.
Getting to Victoria from the Cruise Ship Terminal:
Pacific Coach Lines operates a once daily direct bus service from both Cruise ship terminals (Canada Place & Ballantyne) directly to Victoria on Vancouver Island. It leaves around 10:45 AM. Return Fare is about $50 US, one way about half that. Price includes the ferry fare. Check out this link for more info: http://www.pacificcoach.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=schedule.cruiseship. This is your best bet to get to Victoria if you are planning a stay there a night or two, & don't want to hassle with your luggage. If you just want a tour of Victoria, several of the limo services such as MalRob Limousine do day-long tours of Victoria direct from your cruise ship. This can get very pricey, though. Nice if you have the money to spend, but if your a cheapskate like me, I would probably try to store my luggage, & then hop the regular Pacific Coach bus from the Main terminal at the Main Street Skytrain Station, & do it on my own. You can pick up a tour when you get to Victoria. Make an early start, & you can do it in a long day. You can eat on the ferry to save time, if you wish, the food isn't half bad; Belgian waffles or full Bacon & Eggs breakfast.
|Windstar Cruise Lines! Cruise agency specializing in Windstar.||Looks like an interesting alternative|
|Crociera Online : la vostra crociera con Costa e Festival||Italian based Cruise Site|
|Cruise Watch||Vancouver based Cruise info Site|
|Seacruisechat.com||Cruise Info plus Chat page|
|Port of Vancouver||Port of Vancouver's' site, departure & arrival info|
|Cruisepark - Alaska Cruise Parking Inc.||Store your car in Vancouver|
|Cruise Watch Vancouver||Independent Cruise Site|
|#Seacruise- IRC Undernet Chat Channel||Cruising Site|
|Parking Long-Term Lot||Cheaper alternative at the Airport|
|The Wheelhouse||Online Magazine re Cruising (Ken Stutt)|
|Lighthouse Travel||Discount Cruise Agency (US Based)|
|Cruise Lines International Association||Main Cruise Umbrella Group|
|Royal Caribbean Cruise Line||Alaska|
|Princess Cruises Alaska||Alaska|
|Norwegian Cruise Line Welcomes You||Alaska|
|Holland America Line: Cruises||Alaska|
|World Explorer Cruises||Alaska|
|Discovery Coast Passage: Book an affordable vacation||Poor Mans cruise on BC Ferries|
|Welcome to CruiseShipCenters||Vancouver Based Cruise Agent|
|Cruise Specialists||US Based Agent, On Line booking.|
|Alaska Information||Info on Alaska|
|Sealetter Cruise Port Review: Cruising from Vancouver||Some Vancouver Cruise Info|
|Do-It-Yourself Vancouver Part 1||Alan Walkers suggestions on things to do near the cruise Ship Port.|
|Do-It-Yourself Vancouver Part 2||Continuation of above|
|http://www.limousine.ca||LimoTransportation to Cruise Ship Berth|
|http://www.cdnlimo.com||LimoTransportation to Cruise Ship Berth|