Dateline: 2015-05-21, Thursday
Location: Vancouver Harbour and city
Read the associated Blog entry of our adventure just getting to Vancouver:
If you’re coming in the day of your cruise (again, not recommended!), you probably will have a transfer arranged with your cruise line from the airport to the cruise terminal. If you’re coming in early, though, you’ll want to get a taxi to get to your hotel. The drive only takes about 30 minutes and should be $35 (zone-based).
There are a few hotels right across from the cruise terminal, and those would be super-convenient to just walk across the street with your bags the following morning to check in. However, those hotels aren’t necessarily the closest to happening areas for the evening. We stayed at the Westin Grand and were very happy with the hotel itself and its proximity to everything. (There are pictures of our room in the accompanying Flickr album; link is below.)
If you’re arriving a day early, you should determine what you’re interested in doing and what you’ll have time for (based on your arrival). We just wanted to spend some time actually walking around the downtown city area. There are a number of walking tours you can find by searching on-line, and we just meshed a few different ones together so we could see exactly what was of interest to us. If you have time, taking a walk down to the cruise terminal area (Canada Place) should be interesting and useful, especially if you plan to walk from your hotel to the terminal the next day. Canada Place is a beautiful piece of engineering, and it’s nice to walk all the way around it so you can see out into Vancouver Harbour.
There’s an almost constant stream of seaplanes landing and taking off in the harbour, as well, which is entertaining to watch. There’s a video of one taking off directly over a small boat in my accompanying YouTube playlist; (see below for link). The seaplane barely lifts off in time and flies about 20 feet (6 metres) over the top of the boat.
Going out to the end of Canada Place also affords you a fantastic view back to the Vancouver skyline across the water of Vancouver Harbour.
If you will be walking into the cruise terminal the following day, now is a good time to get your bearings and understand exactly where you’ll need to go so you’re not confused when there are mobs of people and you’re carrying bags. If you’re looking at Canada Place from across the street, you’ll see the “World Trade Centre” entrance to the far right of the building. There’s a Starbucks just to the left of the World Trade Centre doors. The signage for the cruise terminal isn’t particularly prominent, but do you see those pillars below with the blue sign wrappings on them? Those are indicating where you’ll go if you’re on foot. If you will be coming in a taxi, don’t worry too much about this; all the taxi drivers know exactly where to take you underneath the complex.
On your way to Canada Place on your walking tour, you might want to go down Granville Street one direction, and then back on Burrard Street the other. Granville has a, how shall we say?, “gritty” feel to it. (Don’t worry, there’s nothing dangerous about the area.) If you’re at all familiar with the Pike and Pine Streets in Seattle downtown, you might think you were walking in that area when on Granville. Whereas Burrard has a much cleaner, flashier look to it, with a number of impressive buildings and interesting architecture. If you’re walking back from Canada Place on Burrard Street, by the time you get to Robson Street you’ll begin to notice lots of high-end, boutique shops, as well. Taking a right on Robson Street at that point (i.e., heading northwest) will take you along the heart of Vancouver’s high-end shopping district.
For dinner or nightlife, being close to the Yaletown district is a plus. (This is one reason we were happier with the location of the Grand Westin rather than one of the hotels directly adjacent to the cruise terminal.) We were able to walk to the Yaletown district and eat at a restaurant ranked in the top 5 in Vancouver. Make sure you decide where you want to eat ahead of time, and make a booking. Even on a weeknight we found the area to be jammed with locals; it’s definitely a happening place.
There are a few more shots of the drinks and food we had at Blue Water Cafe in Vancouver’s Yaledown district on my Flickr page, but I’ll just share this specific one here. Below is a picture of a starter at Blue Water Cafe — white asparagus, poached prawns, beet balsamic glaze, with beet and strawberry crisps. Amazing. The entire menu was filled with really innovative dishes, and everything we had was completely delicious. If you’re showing up a day before your cruise, consider this the first day of your vacation and make it count! Treat yourself and your partner/family to a memorable meal.
Upcoming Blog posts will start to cover the daily details and activities of our entire Alaska cruise, as well as a post-cruise extension we did to go into Denali National Park. Stay tuned!…
Accompanying Pictures and Video