Vancouver, B.C., Canada

Name: Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal
Address: 999 Canada Place/Ballantyne Terminal
Phone: 1-888-PORTVAN (767-8826)
E-mail: customer_service@portvancouver.com
Website: www.portvancouver.com

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Location:

Vancouver, British Columbia, is Canada’s third largest city, and is located on the Pacific Ocean. Seattle, Washington, is a three-hour drive south. Calgary, Alberta, is 621 miles east of Vancouver.

Airport transportation:

The Vancouver International Airport is a 30-minute drive from the cruise ship ports and downtown Vancouver. Shuttle buses provide quick and easy access to many hotels downtown and to the cruise ship terminal.

Accommodation:

The Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal is located in downtown Vancouver in the Canada Place complex where you’ll also find the Pan Pacific Hotel. Other hotels within walking distance of the cruise port include the Renaissance Vancouver Hotel Harbourside, the Fairmont Waterfront, Shangri-la Hotel, Terminal City Club Hotel, and the Loden.

Vancouver offers a wide array of hotels in the downtown core and throughout the rest of the city and suburbs, fitting all budgets and tastes. Waterfront hotels, downtown hotels, and suburban hotels can be researched and booked through Tourism Vancouver, which acts as a clearing house for all Vancouver accommodations. Their office is across the street from the main cruise terminal and there’s a branch office in the Airport.

Overview: 

The glory and the curse of Vancouver is that it just happens to arguably be the most gorgeous city on the continent.  It is a physical city and that fact dictates virtually everything that’s done within and outside its borders. Endowed with spectacular natural surroundings, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. Only Rio de Janeiro and Hong Kong can compete with a spectacular setting that sees mountains, city and ocean merge in an integrated form.

Five minutes from downtown, to the north, are the Coastal Mountains where you can ski in the winter and hike the many trails that lace the North Shore in the summer. The well-sheltered harbor opens up into the Strait of Georgia and Howe Sound to the West, beckoning visitors to explore the beauty of the region.

The mountainous forests across Burrard Inlet dominate the communities of West Vancouver and North Vancouver whose residents regularly encounter black bears, deer, and the occasional mountain lion. Waterways still carry migrating salmon to their spawning areas.

Now and then an orca whale takes a wrong turn at the entrance to English Bay and sails into the harbor. Coyotes are seen throughout Vancouver’s city parks and they often make amused golfers wait until the wily critters have crossed golf course fairways. And bald eagles are so common a daily sight that when they hover overhead they’re virtually ignored.

Walk the streets and you find a city that’s a complex brew of oriental mystery, old England traditions, native mythology, European charm and iconoclastic Canadiana. Even with a Greater Vancouver population of 2.4 million, there’s a sense of community. It’s a quintessential West Coast City, having a relaxed lifestyle spiced by a rich and varied cultural scene that sees large ethnic communities — among them Japanese, Chinese, Italian, Greek, and South Asian neighborhoods — that augment native culture and tradition.

As you experience the city, there’ll be moments when you’re convinced that the stunning beauty, the live-and-let-live lifestyles, and the overwhelming civility can’t be real. Don’t concern yourself. It is.

Vancouver is downtown-oriented with the major hotels, nightclubs, restaurants and theaters mainly located within that core. Getting around is easy. The streets of downtown Vancouver are logical and grid-like, so it’s difficult to get lost even though neighborhoods change quickly. Look for a mountain. That’s north. The rest falls into place.

You learn quickly that Vancouver is a walker’s city — safe, colorful, vibrant — and that it’s a city of neighborhoods. The downtown area, for example, is split into several distinct zones, as important in their character differences as those in San Francisco. There’s Chinatown, of course – the third largest in North America behind the ones in San Francisco and New York – but there’s also Gastown, Yaletown, and the West End, all of which are in the downtown area.

Generally speaking, the West End is the downtown primary residential area, Gastown is the historical area, and Yaletown, adjacent to the old Expo ‘86 grounds, is the city’s latest rehabilitation project where old warehouses have been converted into high-end condos, restaurants, and small shops. Chinatown is such a distinct area that it stands alone, a little nation within the city. The area between Chinatown and the West End is where you’ll find the major theaters, public library, and sports facilities.

There are also 21 other “local areas” defined within the city limits. No, you likely won’t be able to experience them all, but you can make an entire visit of the city’s most colorful, historical, and lively areas.

Shopping:

Whatever your tastes, you’ll find something worthwhile to spend your holiday cash on in Vancouver. Start off downtown on Robson Street, a bustling strip of trendy shops and well-known brands like BCBG, The Gap and Banana Republic.

Downtown, as you’d expect, is the city’s primary shopping area with many stores and boutiques along Robson Street, Granville Street, Water Street in Gastown, on Granville Island and throughout the West End.

But what’s not so apparent is the fact that that the downtown core is laced with underground shopping, much as you’ll find in Montreal. You can wander for hours among the underground corridors that link department stores and office buildings. The busiest part is at Georgia and Granville where three department stores – The Bay, Sears, and Holt Renfrew – are connected by an underground shopping mall that has about 200 shops. Called Pacific Centre Mall, it is easily reached through the department stores or through the office towers situated on the street corners.

Further along Georgia Street, a long passageway of stores is found beneath the Royal Bank (The Royal Centre) on the corner of Burrard and W. Georgia. While not as large a complex as the Pacific Centre Mall, the Royal Centre is under the Royal Bank and the Hyatt Hotel; and the Bentall Centre office complex further north along Burrard St. While not as complex as Pacific Centre Mall, there are boutiques not found elsewhere.

Still, you don’t have to be a groundhog to enjoy Vancouver’s shopping thrills and chills. Above ground, Granville Street, Robson Street and the waterfront offer almost limitless opportunities for anyone wanting to be separated from their cash. On Burrard and Hornby Street between Georgia and Robson, for example, you’ll find international haute couture shops that cater to tourists and locals alike.

A couple of blocks north of Georgia and Granville are two upscale shopping areas – Sinclair Centre and The Landing – with boutiques, restaurants, and services for those who prefer a more personal relationship with their salespeople.

Granville Mall was once Vancouver’s major entertainment strip with bright neon signs beckoning people into theaters and nightclubs. Then, in the 1970s, it was turned into a pedestrian dominated mall, providing a fashionable place that would attract the well-to-do. Buses only are allowed between the wide sidewalks from W. Hastings to Nelson Street to give the area to pedestrians. The only vehicles allowed access to the Mall besides buses are taxis and limousines, emergency vehicles, custom transit vehicles, bicycles and commercial vehicles with a special Granville Mall permit. Park there illegally and you’ll be towed away.

Beneath the pavement people are shopping underground, and after dark it’s both exciting and a bit seedy, attracting young street people, panhandlers, and concert goers in a wild mix of lifestyles on the move. During the day, however, the mall is essentially a conduit for walkers and shoppers going into Sears, The Bay, the Granville Book Company near the Orpheum, and the Pacific Centre.

Things to do:

Take in some history. Gastown, the first commercial area of Vancouver, is just a short walk from the cruise ship terminal. You’ll find wonderful boutiques tucked into heritage warehouses with plenty of brands by local fashion designers. The steam-powered clock along Water Street will keep you on time. And don’t miss the statue of “Gassy” Jack, the area’s namesake, at the end of Water Street.

Stop and smell the trees. Just minutes from downtown Vancouver, you’ll find Stanley Park, an awe-inspiring natural oasis with plenty of trails and sites for visitors to explore. You’ll also find Vancouver’s Aquarium in the park. It is a must-see for the whole family. Don’t miss the beluga whale show.

Be a beach bum. Vancouver’s beaches are alive with life — rain or shine. Walk, bike or rollerblade along the seawall and stop at a hotdog stand for an impromptu picnic. Or make like a local and get a latte to go, then putter along the sandy shores of Jericho or Kitsilano Beach and just breath. You’ll fall in love with the rugged shoreline, clean air and noisy seagulls.

Special Places:

Head to Grouse Mountain for a dose of stunning scenery or for some seriously butt-burning cardio. Locals climb the 2.9-kilometer mountain in the summer months, an activity known as doing “the grind.” Take the gondola down the hill after dining on the mountain or relaxing in the sunshine.  If you’re not up for sweating, take the lift up and down. No one will blame you! The gondola leaves from 6400 Nancy Green Way in North Vancouver, a 20-minute drive from downtown Vancouver.

— Ray Chatelin

 

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