Sailing to Alaska from Vancouver? Three secrets you should know
1. Arrive in Vancouver at least one day before the cruise departs. Of course, I may be a bit biased, but Vancouver will be one of your main ports of call during this cruise. Very often I have seen cruise ships fly to Vancouver on the day their cruise departs and completely miss this wonderful city. Plus, the added stress level of getting your boat done on time isn’t a way to start your vacation if everything doesn’t go according to plan. All it takes is a lost plane connection, a mechanical difficulty, a problem at the border, or bad weather and your entire vacation could be ruined. Trust me, the ship will not wait for you in Vancouver if you are late and you are solely responsible for getting to the ship on time. Not only that, but the tides and currents leaving Vancouver mean that the Captain in many cases must leave on time or risk being held in port for hours until it is safe to depart again. There are amazing tours and sightseeing options in Vancouver and if you can make the most of the time, it’s definitely worth it. The same goes for the day of your departure – why end a perfectly good cruise vacation by stressing whether or not you’ll get off the ship in time for that ridiculously early flight home?
2. Get to the boat. There are several ways to do this depending on whether you are going to totally ignore tip number one and try to go directly to the ship, or if you are going directly to your hotel. 2015 marks the first season in a long time that only Canada Place will be used for cruise ship departures and thank goodness for that! Those of you who have sailed from “the other” pier known as Ballantyne Pier in the past will surely agree with me that it was a disappointing start to your cruise, to say the least. Ballantyne Pier is poorly located outside of the city center and away from most hotels in the city. Fortunately for you, Canada Place is almost certainly the departure destination for your ships this year. The cruise terminal is located at Canada Place, which is in close proximity to a multitude of hotels, taxis, and the Canada Line; Vancouver’s fully automated rapid transit train line. Some cruise lines offer shuttle bus transfers to the ship or hotel, however my recommendation is to do the math first. A taxi from Vancouver Airport to Canada Place with a 15% tip will cost you between C $ 35- $ 45 and take about 30 minutes. Most bus transfers purchased by boat will cost you roughly the same per person, so they may not be the best deal unless you are traveling alone. If you don’t mind dragging all your luggage and walking a few blocks, the Canada Line train costs just under $ 10 per person and is a 30 minute trip to the pier, not bad if you have a backpack, but with luggage I would recommend not do it. After getting off the train, you need to walk to the ship, which is about ten minutes from the train to the ship’s baggage drop-off point. My first choice would be to arrange a pickup from a pre-cruise tour company or perhaps a private sedan to take you to your hotel. There are many luxury tours and rides available online or at the airport and you should arrange them before you get on the plane. A private sedan or limo will generally cost you between $ 60 and $ 80 Canadian plus tip. If you are arriving early, please note that most hotels check in between 15:00 and 16:00, however any decent hotel will try to accommodate you early or at least offer to store your luggage on arrival until your room. Be prepared.
3. When is the best time to get to the ship? Well, if you like to sit, queue, or wait at immigration, go first thing in the morning. If you are like me and prefer to spend the day enjoying Vancouver or getting some sleep, you should think carefully about what time you arrive at the Canada Place cruise terminal to board your ship. The time it takes you to board the ship from when you drop it off at the dock can vary from 20 minutes to 4 hours, depending on when you arrive and how many ships are in port. Keep in mind that the ship will most likely drop off a few thousand guests who have just completed their cruise. It typically takes until at least 10 a.m. to clear the ship of departing guests, and another hour before they allow newly arrived guests to begin the check-in process. If your first port of call is a Canadian port like Victoria or Prince Rupert, you probably won’t have to go through United States Immigration at the Canada Place pier. However, if your cruise is like most Alaska cruises and your first port is in Alaska, you will most likely go through U.S. immigration inspection just prior to the ship’s check-in process at Canada Place, so you need to have your passport. practical. The procedure generally runs in this order; baggage drop-off, security check, US immigration processing, cruise line check-in, and then the moment you’ve been waiting all this time to board the ship! Even if you are the first person on board the ship at 11am. M., You won’t be able to access most of the ship, including your cabins, until around 1 p.m. M., When the ship’s staff has finished cleaning and preparing everything for you. What this means is that the first two to three hours of check-in you will be sitting or standing in a huge line, and then when you get on board, if it is before 1:00 p.m. M., You will be forced to wait in a public area of the ship with your carry-on luggage until they announce that your rooms are ready on the ship’s PA. My advice is to enjoy Vancouver and show up a little later in the early afternoon to check in rather than trying to get to Canada Place at 9am. M. To be able to queue with 2,000 other guests. That said, make sure of course to check your start time and don’t put it off until the last minute either. You must be at the pier at least 90 minutes before departure time at the latest, as the check-in process usually closes at least one hour before departure.
So there you have it, the first of many tips for this year’s Alaska cruise season. Don’t miss out next time I’ll tell you all about what to expect on your first day on board, from how to get room upgrades, to what needs to be done on the first day of the cruise, and what to expect until the second day. Until then, thanks for reading and have a good trip!