Pre and Post-Cruise Vancouver

| Wednesday, 02 Dec. 2009

 

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From hiking on top of Grouse Mountain to fine dining in picturesque Stanley Park, a week in Vancouver is almost as much fun as your Alaska cruise. No wonder this city is growing in popularity with cruise passengers.

 

Vancouver is one of the world's most beautiful ports, and boasts a tremendous variety of things to do. Locals claim it is one of a few places where you can ski in the morning and windsurf in the afternoon. It's a very green city with rain forests, parks, fountains and gardens.

Like the rest of Canada, in Vancouver you'll get a lot for your dollars. The U.S. dollar is around 20% stronger than Canadian dollar, which means you can reduce the price of a hotel or restaurant.

In Vancouver, most cruise ships dock right downtown at Canada Place. The docking facilities are among the most modern and beautiful in the world. On a pre-cruise visit to the city there is nothing more delightful than watching ships sail out in the late afternoon, knowing your turn is coming soon. Canada Place has undergone an expansion to accommodate a third mega-ship and the viewing area has been increased by 800 feet. In the renovated cruise check-in area, Vancouver Tourism has opened an information center and several souvenir kiosks are operating. The IMAX theatre, the Pan Pacific Hotel and Vancouver Trade and Convention Center are also located in the Canada Place facility .

 

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From the information booth at Canada Place (or across the street in Vancouver Tourism's main office) all the brochures and maps one needs can be supplied. Most of Vancouver's major attractions are easily accessible from downtown hotels or within reach of public transit. Begin with a walk to Old Gastown, site of the first commercial area, where Vancouver began. Its refurbished warehouses are now a shopping and dining center, with historic markers, statues and a steam-driven clock adding to the character and interest. Between Canada Place and Gastown is Waterfront Station the terminus for the SeaBus and SkyTrain transportation services. Take the SeaBus across the harbor to explore the North Shore where Grouse Mountain and Capilano Suspension Bridge are found. Be sure to climb the Lookout Tower, across from Waterfront Station for superb harbor and city views.

 

 

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Popular Stanley Park is close to downtown. This was Vancouver's first park established in 1886. It is the largest forested park within a city in North America and features a five mile Seawall for walking, cycling and roller blading. Within the park are found nature trails, gardens, a lagoon, beaches, swimming pool, totem pole park, miniature train, tennis courts, lawn bowling, cricket green and pitch and putt golf. The highlights of the world-class aquarium include beluga whales, a dolphin show and numerous tanks and displays. In the summer, a free shuttle service operates around the park. You can hop on and off as you like. Be sure to stop at Prospect Point for one of the finest views of the North Shore and Lions Gate Bridge.

 

There are plenty of beaches in town and the water is pleasant. A visit to Sunset or Kits Beach, a five to ten minute taxi ride from your downtown hotel, is highly recommended for the view of Burrard Inlet and the North Shore mountains. The Maritime Museum, Vancouver Museum and planetarium are located nearby.

 

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Granville Island sits across False Creek from downtown. A miniature ferry takes you across False Creek to the island - as well as to the Science Center, Maritime Museum and Aquatic Center if desired. Granville Island itself is a center for artists with many studios, theatres, galleries and an art college on site. The boatyard is always busy and many fine vessels dock at the marinas on both sides of the Island. Numerous maritime businesses are found here. The European market is a fine spot to wander and have lunch. A brewery and several restaurants popular with locals are also a part of this dynamic area.

 

The hop-on-and-off trolley and double decker bus are a great help in getting to the city sites, including Stanley Park. They pick up at many hotels and all the main sites. Vancouver is so scenic-the drive alone is worth it. Ask at your hotel where the closest pick-up point is located for this service. Pay when you board.

 

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The new Canada Place expansion means fewer ships have to sail from Ballantyne Pier. If you are sailing from the older Ballantyne Pier, farther East along the harbor, you need to stay downtown and take a taxi to Ballantyne, a 15 minute, $9.00 drive. There are no tourist hotels in the Ballantyne Pier vicinity.

 

The berthing plan announcing which pier the Alaska cruise ships will sail from is usually announced by the Port of Vancouver in March and it is posted on their web site.

 

 

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To help you plan your Vancouver pre or post-cruise stay, here are seven hotels close to Canada Place. If you hadn't brought so much luggage, you could walk to your ship from any of them! They include budget and deluxe. Room rates listed below are in Canadian dollars. The exchange rate is around 1.20 Canadian Dollars to 1 U.S. Dollar. These are list rates for a standard room, but remember, specials are often available.

 

Hotels offer a variety of packages which are often a better price than booking a room. Be sure to mention you are a cruise passenger at time of booking as some hotels offer special Alaska cruise packages. AAA auto club members also qualify for special rates at most hotels and there are Internet booking specials as well.

Contacts for Vancouver Bed and Breakfasts are also listed. This is a very popular type of accommodation on the West Coast and there are several located in the downtown area.

PAN PACIFIC HOTEL 300-999 Canada Place Canada: 800-663-1515 - USA: 800-937-1515 www.panpac.com/hotels Superior Rooms from CDN$299. Pre- & Post Alaska Cruise Packages from CDN$399.00 Cruise ships dock outside your window at this luxury hotel and you board your ship at the cruise terminal level, beneath the hotel. The Convention Centre and IMAX theatre are a part of the Canada Place complex, which offers several restaurants and a bar with a view of the harbor. It's connected underground to the Waterfront Centre, Seabus and Skytrain Station, and Sinclair Place shopping center shopping;.Alaska cruise package includes complimentary transportation to Ballantyne Pier, adjusted check in and check out times, breakfast for two, IMAX or Aquarium passes.

THE FAIRMONT WATERFRONT 900 Canada Place Way 1-800-257-7544 www.fairmont.com Summer room rates from around CDN$349.00 Connect With Your Cruise Ship Package from $299.00 Across the road from Canada Place, this deluxe property is operated by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts. Spectacular city and harbor views, connected underground to the SeaBus and SkyTrain station and Sinclair Place shopping center. There's a shopping and food court beneath the hotel. 15 minutes by taxi to Ballantyne Pier. Cruise package includes one night hotel, buffet breakfast, porterage to the cruise ship terminal across the street.

MARRIOTT VANCOUVER PINNACLE DOWNTOWN 1128 West Hastings Street 1-800-207-4150 www.marriott.com Summer suite rates from around CDN$259.00 Formerly the Delta Pinnacle, this luxury high-rise is three blocks from Canada Place in the heart of the business district. The 434 well appointed rooms feature a range of luxury items including duvet, bathrobe(s), complimentary in-room coffee/tea, private bar, umbrella, hair dryer, complimentary shoe shine, iron and ironing board. Junior and Presidential suites also available. A few minutes to Canada Place by taxi, 15 minutes to Ballantyne Pier.

RENAISSANCE VANCOUVER HOTEL HARBOURSIDE 1133 West Hastings 1-800-905-8582 www.marriott.com Summer room rates from around CDN$239. Across the street from the Pinnacle above, this is a beautiful property with great harbor views Located five blocks from Canada Place, a little west of downtown. Fine dining and a piano lounge and revolving restaurant with superb harbor views. A few minutes to Canada Place by taxi, 15 minutes to Ballantyne Pier.

DELTA VANCOUVER SUITE HOTEL 550 West Hastings Street 1-877-814-7706 www.deltahotels.com Summer suite rates from around CDN$229.00 This all-suite hotel is located three blocks from Canada Place, across the street from the Vancouver Lookout tower. 226 deluxe, full service, two room suites. A few minutes to Canada Place by taxi, 15 minutes to Ballantyne Pier.

DAYS INN 921 West Pender Street 1-800-329-7466 www.daysinn.com Summer room rates from CDN$139. A popular budget property just 3 short blocks from Canada Place; Restaurant and Bar, with discounts for seniors and auto club members. A few minutes to Canada Place by taxi, 15 minutes to Ballantyne Pier.

BED AND BREAKFASTS B&Bs are very popular and there are many in the downtown area. Visit the "B.C. Bed and Breakfasts only" site at www.pixsell.bc.ca/bcbbd.htm.

 

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