Vancouver is counted among the world’s most beautiful cities, circled by high mountains, vast forests, and pristine ocean beaches.
The city possesses a major commercial docks, which over the history of the city has acted as a driving force towards Vancouver’s growth and success.
In the early 20th century the port functioned as a base for small ships moving goods to settlements dotted northwards up the coast. The passengers on these boats brought back stories of stunning scenery. Shipping companies saw an opportunity and the Union Steamship, Canadian Pacific Steamers and Canadian National Steamers all started selling 7 day summer cruises along the coastline to Alaska.
However only two vessels operating summer cruises to Alaska were left by the 1950s. 1957 heralded the founding of Alaska Cruise Lines, which ran Yukon Star and the Glacier Queen. The company was sold to Holland America in 1971. In 1975 Holland America based the new ship Prinsendam at Vancouver to capitalize on the growing market. Two Princess ships, Island Princess and Princess Italia, arrived to join ms Prinsendam, and these were soon followed by further ships from other cruise lines. The number of cruise passengers continued steady growth from 20,000 in 1970 to 1 million in 2000.
But the arrival of Seattle into the cruise market in 2000 halted Vancouver’s growth. By the year 2010 Vancouver cruise passenger numbers fell to about 600,000, as the upstart’s cruise traffic continued growing at Vancouver’s expense.
The picturesque buildings and cobblestone streets of Gastown are the heart of historic Vancouver. Though the first timber houses were entirely burnt to the ground in the great fire of 1886. See the edifice of ‘Gassy Jack’ in Maple Square and the quirky steam clock whistle then have a quiet stop at a welcoming coffee bar.
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden
In the heart of the city’s booming Chinatown, sits the gorgeous Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden. The Garden is based on the combining of the four main elements: water, plants, architecture and rock, resulting in perfect balance.
The huge green space of Stanley Park sits on the end of the Burrard peninsula. It’s home to the Vancouver Aquarium and a wonderful assortment of Totem Poles. Enthusiastic hikers can contour the 6 mile seashore, along a path which offers magnificent views across the sea.
Take a trip to Vancouver Aquarium to experience a range of ‘animal encounters’, with dolphins, sea turtles, sea otters and sea lions. Children will adore Clownfish Cove, with its sea urchins, clownfish, sea cucumbers and corn snakes.
Vancouver’s famous winter ski hill is busy in summer as well. Summertime activities include lumberjack shows, ziplining, helicopter tours, paragliding, eco walk and falcon center. The Wildlife Refuge houses species like wolves and bears.
Winters in Alaska are cold and long, so Vancouver’s cruising season is strictly summer only. Nearly all the cruises which leave from Vancouver to Alaska sail by way of the spectacular Inside Passage route, arriving at Queen Charlotte Sound by the notorious Seymore Narrows. This famous sea passage was made safe by a project by military engineers to blast the top off an undersea mountain.
A very popular itinerary is the week long return trip with calls at Glacier Bay, Juneau, Tracy Arm Fjord, Skagway and Ketchikan. You’ll see characterful port-of-call towns, spectacular coast and mountain panoramas and mighty glaciers calving into the ocean.
When the Vancouver cruise season finishes a variety of memorable grand voyage cruise itineraries are on offer, to destinations like Asia, Florida and Hawaii.
See cruises from Vancouver for a full calendar of cruises.
Vancouver Cruise Terminals
There are 2 cruise terminals in Vancouver. Canada Place, by the city center close to Waterfron rail station, and Ballantyne, a mile eastwards from the city center. Before boarding, all passengers are obliged to go through US customs, streamlining procedures at Alaskan ports.
Canada Place has developed from its beginnings as Canadian Pacific Railway pier B-C, which enabled rapid transit of corn from railway wagons to docked cargo ships. The cruise terminal is part of the former Canada Pavilion from Expo 86, with its a distinctive five sail outline, which represents the region’s long maritime tradition. Facilities available include security, baggage trolleys, restrooms, a snack shop and customs. The terminal has 3 cruise ship berths.
Ballantyne terminal was expanded and renovated in 1995, and today provides efficient cruise ship embarking and disembarking. Facilities on offer include security, baggage trolleys, restrooms, taxi ranks, snack shops and customs. The cruise port has just one major berth.
See Port Metro Vancouver for the port website.
Traveling To The Cruise Terminals
By Car From the US
Drive across the Canadian Border via I-5. This turns into Rte 99. Continue northKeep on Route 99 crossing the Oak Street Bridge. Turn left on 70th Ave. Then make a right on Granville Street. Carry on northwards across Granville Street Bridge. Continue straight on by taking the Seymour St exit. Continue northwards along Seymour St until you reach West Cordova St. Turn left on West Cordova St. Next turn right on Howe Street, and after a block you’ll get to Canada Place. Parking are available at the Vinci car park.
Head across the US/Canadian Border on I-5. I-5 turns into Rte 99. Leave at turnoff 36 and turn right onto Route 1. After two-thirds of a mile make a left onto Knight Street. Knight Street will become Clark Drive. Continue north on Clark to the foot of Clark and make a right onto Stewart St. Continue around half a mile to arrive at Ballantyne.
No parking facilites are available at the cruise terminal, but an option is cruisepark, positioned on the waterfront between Ballantyne and Canada Place.
From Vancouver International Airport
The modern Canada Line Skytrain gives a rapid connection from the airport to Waterfront station with a journey time of half-an-hour. Trains are every 8 minutes. Canada Place cruise terminal is a quick walk from Waterfront station. Ballantyne is a taxi ride away.