**** Vancouver FAQ Thread **** A few updates in main post!
Okie dokie... here is some info I have compiled for now. I will keep adding and updating as time permits. I have tons of great ideas to put in this thread, but only so much time tonight, and will add a bit here and there. Any suggestions/questions would be great.
FULL SET OF ALASKA NAVIGATORSHERE
Update - famous Vancouver Aquarium Holding Hands Otters http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epUk3T2Kfno
There are 2 cruise piers in Vancouver, Canada Place and Ballantyne.
Disney will be using Canada Place (which is much better than the other one!).
Here is a map to show the distance you walk from the skytrain station to port.
ANOTHER THREAD WITH GOOD ALASKA INFO
*** UPDATED INFO 4/11*** DISNEY TRANSFERS
DCL offers transfers from hotels -they are even offering this from the Fairmont Waterfront - DO NOT BUY TRANSFERS FROM THERE! It is literally ACROSS the street from the port - whoever set this up had no idea how close it is! Also, in most cases, a cab is going to be MUCH cheaper than these transfers.
Luggage StorageThanks mmouse for this info!
Parking info can be found HERE. It is about 135.00/week for parking. I would recommend a reservation. ***UPDATE APRIL 18/11*** Thanks CatIslander for this info: Just wanted to let anyone know who has reserved parking with CruisePark that I just received a letter that they will not be operating this cruise season. VinciParking, which operates at CanadaPlace will be respecting their prices, but you need to make a reservation with them.
WHERE CAN I BUY ALCOHOL BEFORE THE CRUISE???
Thanks BlackFrank for posting this info...
There's a government liquor store in the lower level of Harbour Center mall (555 West Hastings Street), which is about 2 blocks from the Pan Pacific. The Harbour Center building is fairly unmistakable, as it has a revolving restaurant on top. It's essentially across the street from the Seabus terminal (the old, brick railway station). You essentially walk out of the Pan Pacific, hang and immediate left, take the first turn (on Howe street), take the next turn (on W Cordova Street), walk 2 1/2 blocks, and there you are.
(Do a search on google maps from Pan Pacific Hotel to Harbour Center).
Thank you Evette for posting www.specialneedsatsea.com
HOTWIRE/PRICELINE INFO FOR VANCOUVER:
I suggest going to www.betterbidding.com and www.biddingfortravel.com closer to your trip when you are ready to bid/buy to see what hotels are coming up and for what prices.
Downtown Vancouver West - this is a good area for those who are cruising. It is closer to Stanley Park and the Pier. Could be walking distance or a 5-10 min cab ride to pier.
Downtown Vancouver Entertainment District - still a good area, very central downtown, possibly near BC Place/GM Place and theater/shopping areas. Probably a 10 min cab ride to pier.
Downtown Vancouver South - This area is 'over the bridge' and more near city hall/hospital areas, which are not really in the main downtown/pier area. Maybe a 15-20 min cab ride to the pier.
North Vancouver - This area is over the North bridges and close to Grouse Mtn and Capilano Suspension Bridge areas. Not really handy to downtown and could be a 20 min cab ride to the pier, but if there is a problem on the bridge, it could be longer. Its 95% motel style places there, and many are clean and comfortable, although I would avoid the cheapie travelodge (stayed there once and it was icky).
Burnaby-Coquitlam - I wouldn't recommend staying in these areas, as they are quite far away from downtown and the pier. In Vancouver traffic it could be a 30-40 min ride into the city. The Holiday Inn Express metrotown is on the skytrain route which takes you to the pier, as is the New Westminster Quay hotel.
Richmond/Airport - this is the Vancouver airport area, but some of these hotels could end up being in the city of Richmond and a bit further out from the airport.
It is very similar to Hotwire with a couple of differences.
Downtown Vancouver - basically this is the same as Vancouver West and some of the Entertainment district from Hotwire.
Granville Entertainment District - basically the same as Hotwire's entertainment district
Also on priceline is Langley, and I don't recommend that (except that is where I live and you are welcome to come visit me!), because it is way too far out of the city unless you are doing a rental car. There is also Surrey, and its the same thing, quite far out, although the sky train does run there. I wouldn't really recommend it though.
If in doubt, I have a spare bedroom and am happy to have you couch surf for a night! lol
There are tons and tons of hotels in Vancouver. In Vancouver it is VERY true that you get what you pay for. If you have found a $69 bargain (not counting priceline/hotwire), you are probably not going to want to stay there. I can't stress enough to READ TRIPADVISOR and look at reviews. There are some seedy hotels in Vancouver.
I live about 30 mins from the city, but due to my line of work, I have been fortunate to have stayed in a few of the hotels in the city over the years, and can answer questions on specific hotels here and there. I am sure many others on the board can too.
Vancouver is an expensive city for hotel rooms, but also really known for great hotwire and priceline deals. I can often get a 4 star hotel for around 100-125 a night (which is a good deal). Most rack rates are going to be 200+ in Vancouver in the summer.
Go to www.betterbidding.com to figure out what is coming on hotwire/priceline for Vancouver.
These are WALKING DISTANCE/ONSITE HOTELS:
Pan Pacific – attached to cruise pier, they will send your luggage down to your ship for you (this often is seen as a 5* on hotwire). If money is no object this is where you want to stay!
Fairmont Waterfront Hotel – directly across the street from Canada Place. This is another gorgeous 5* hotel with a Sunday brunch to die for! Also they have a resident dog that lives outside in his own doghouse and wears his own bell captian outfit and greets guests as they enter. He was a stray that decided he wanted to be a bell captain a few years ago, and been there ever since. Even if you don't stay here, try and see him - its just adorable!
Pacific Rim - This is a brand new hotel opening in early 2010 for the Olympics. It is about a 5 min walk from the pier and I imagine will be very easy walk, even with luggage. Since it is not yet open, I don't know much other than it appears to be a 5* hotel and maybe it will offer a shuttle to Canada Place???
Hotels within a 5 min cab ride to Canada Place:
(these are just a few off the top of my head and will add more later)
Marriott Pinnacle – I have stayed here many times and love this hotel. They have underground parking and might offer longterm? I am sure once the cruises are closer, people will find out this info and we can update.
Marriott Renaissance - I have stayed here 2 times and while it is a nice hotel, its not 'family friendly' for food. Very pacific northwest type cuisine and not much within walking distance for easy 'kid' food (ie: no fast food places within walking distance that I can remember - this could have changed, as I haven't been near it in a year or so).
Westin Bayshore - I have stayed here and it was clean and comfortable. It is on the seawall, and if you like to walk, you can walk to Stanley Park along it. Maybe a 20 min walk?
Coast Coal Harbour - Another hotel I don't know anything about, as it is opening 2010 for the Olympics
Hotels within a 10-12 min cab ride to Canada Place:
(these are just a few off the top of my head and will add more later)
Sutton Place Vancouver - If you are into scoping out movie stars, this is the hotel for you. This is a 5* hotel that has both regular hotel rooms and also long stay type suites. It is often on hotwire for $100-$150 a night. 90% of the 'movie stars' that come to Vancouver stay here, as well as the directors/producers. It is in an excellent location. Across the street is a big movie theater and it is surrounded by stores and a short walk to Robson Street (Shopping!). This is where the Twlight cast stays while in town too! (although they seem to be sending them here and the Sheraton Wall Center these days because of papparazzi).
Sheraton Wall Center - gorgeous 4* hotel (maybe a 5*?) that is walking distance to Robson street for shopping. You might catch some movie star sightings here too!
Westin Grand - This is a gorgeous 4* hotel that is often on hotwire for $70-$150 a night. It is shaped like a Grand Piano! It is an all suite hotel with a mini kitchen similar to what you would find in a DVC resort. I have stayed here numerous times and its really nice. It is across the street from Vancouver's big gorgeous library and within walking distance of lots of restaurants and fast food. This is a great place to stay when there is a big concert in town, as it has a great proximity to GM Place, and many music artists and their entourage stay here.
There are usually really good priceline/hotwire deals on Vancouver Airport area hotels. This area is also know as Richmond (name of the suburb city the airport is actually in).
STAY AWAY from the Quality Inn (recently sold and may be known as the Airport Inn - address is 725 S.E. Marine Dr.) - it will be CHEAP and tempting, but trust me you don't want to go there!
Again, use trip advisor and BELIEVE the reviews if they are saying bad things over and over again.
Sandman Signature Hotel - this is a really fun resort style hotel because it has a HUGE 250' waterslide indoors! There is also a gorgeous outdoor pool with nice cushy loungers all around. This is a full service hotel. Don't get it mixed up with the regular Sandman Hotel (same company and only a couple blocks apart from each other). I just stayed here about a month ago and loved it. Watch their website for special rates.
River Rock Casino Resort - newer hotel/casino type Resort hotel. Can be quite pricey. There is a waterslide at the pool.
Fairmont Vancouver Airport Hotel - 5* hotel located in the airport. Very easy access to airport and very expensive. I believe it has won awards for being one of the top hotels in the world.
Other hotels I have stayed at or know someone who has and said they were fine are:
Delta Vancouver Airport (Often on hotwire for under $90 a night)
Sandman Vancouver Airport
Hampton Inn Vancouver Airport
Again, I will add to this list...just a few for now.
This is a very cool INTERACTIVE MAP of Vancouver. You have to be patient and let it load. I have a fast computer and it took about 4 minutes.
TOURISM VANCOUVER WEBSITE
Victoria, Vancouver Island:
By Ferry - driving: 3.5 hours each way
The Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal is located approximately one hour from Vancouver city center. The ferry crossing time to Swartz Bay is 90 minutes. Once you have disembarked the ferry, the traveling time to Victoria is 40 minutes. You are required to be at the ferry 30 minutes before departure.
By Ferry without a car: 3.5 hours each way
Pacific Coach Lines has a convenient shuttle service from downtown Vancouver to Victoria city centre. The bus departs from the bus depot located 10 minutes away from the port via taxi. The duration of the trip is 4 hours.
By Seaplane or Helicopter: 35 minutes each way
Seaplanes and helicopters have a daily flight schedule from downtown Vancouver to Victoria city center. The seaplane and helicopter terminals are located within 10-15 minutes walking distance from the port. Check in is 25 minutes prior to flight departure and photo identification is required. The cost for the seaplane is approximately $134.00 CAD plus 5% taxes each way per person. Luggage on seaplanes is restricted to 11kg per person. The cost for the helicopter varies from $124.00 CAD to $219.00 CAD plus 5% taxes each way per person. Luggage on Helijet is restricted to 22kg per person on.
By Tour: 12-13 hours round trip
Most tour companies offer hotel pick up. Depending on the company, departures are available from 7:10 am to 9:00 am. These tours are 13 hours in length. The cost is approximately $169.00 per person depending on the company and this includes the ferry cost as well as admission to the Butchart Gardens in Victoria.
The Quick Shuttle:
This is a coach service between Seattle and Vancouver with stops along the way. Be prepared for approximately a 4-hour journey and occasionally a long wait at customs, as each passenger must be processed individually. The website contains schedule and rate information. Hotel pick-ups are offered from most major downtown Hotels.
I have used quick shuttle many times and have to say this is the easiest way to get from Seatac airport or Bellingham airport to Vancouver without a car. The bus will pick you up right outside baggage claim and drop you at the cruise port. No cabs and fussing around at all.
Heading North to Vancouver...
When the bus reaches the border, the driver pulls up to the building and unloads everyone's luggage onto a conveyor belt. After he has done that, everyone must get off the bus and bring everything with them off the bus (you can't leave items on the bus). You go into the building, get your luggage and then walk through customs. You need to show your passport at this point. You will also give them a filled out customs card that they give you when you board the bus. There is a bathroom in the building you can use as well.
Everyone then gets back on the bus and off you go.
I find this whole process is about 20 mins-30 mins and a welcome time to stretch your legs.
Heading South to Bellingham/Seattle...
There are 2 ways this might be done - if you have just gotten off the cruise ship and the entire bus is ONLY cruise ship passengers, the bus will pull up and no one has to get off at customs. Since you have technically just gone through customs, they just let you stay on the bus and do a quick check.
Now if you are on the bus with non-cruise ship passengers, the driver will take all the luggage off the bus and place it outside the building. A dog sniffs it all and then you get off the bus, grab your own luggage and proceed inside. This is where you will have your passport out and customs card they give you on the bus to fill out. After you go through, you have to place your own luggage and all other items on the xray machine, and then once cleared, you can take it back out to the bus. There are washrooms in this building too that you can use.
It takes about 20-30 mins total.
AVOID USING QUICK SHUTTLE GOING SOUTH ON A SATURDAY MORNING IF POSSIBLE! You may have a much longer wait at the border!
HOW TO GET A 50% OFF COUPON FOR QUICK SHUTTLE...
I am posting this info in Sept/09, so I have NO idea if in 2011 the coupon will still be out there. I have a good feeling it will be, as I have used quick coach many times in the past since 2006 and always managed to have the coupon.
If you have an entertainment book and can log into the website, go to the Vancouver area on the site (I am not sure if you have to have the Vancouver book in order to get the coupon). There is a coupon you can print that gives you 50% off 2 people on the quick shuttle. Once printed, this coupon is ONLY good for 2 weeks (it is dated).
Go online and book your reservation and pay for it. Then in about 24 hours you will get a confirmation with a reservation code/number. Print your coupon and write your reservation code on the coupon, and mail it into quick shuttle. They will credit you the 50% off 7 days after you travel automatically back on your credit card.
Between Vancouver and Seattle, one scheduled departure per day. The train station is about a 10-15 min cab ride to the pier
Greyhound Bus service:
The Greyhound bus operates on a regular schedule from the downtown Vancouver bus depot to Whistler Village. The bus depot is about 10-15 mins from the pier.
VANCOUVER DINING THREAD
Veras Burgers - Veras Burgers is amazing. There are a few around are small little restaurants. These are NOT fast food. They cook to order, so don't expect to walk in, get a burger and leave right away. They take about 15-20 mins to cook your food and their fries are TO DIE FOR!
White Spot - This is a sit down casual restaurant. Kids get really neat meals here in Pirate Packs - they come in a cardboard pirate ship container with a gold chocolate coin. Food here is good with decent portion sizes.
Sushi restaurants litter downtown Vancouver. They are more common than Starbucks and McDonalds combined. Sushi is very popular fast food for locals. Vancouver sushi restaurants serve a variety of traditional Japanese-style sushi and sashimi (salmon, tuna, shrimp, etc.), as well as Western-style sushi (California rolls, dynamite rolls, avocado rolls, etc.). Most also serve hot food such as tempura (deep fried shrimp and/or veggies), terriaki (salmon, chicken and/or beef plus vegetables and rice), as well as soup. The restaurants range from counter service ($4-$7 per entre) to fine dining ($20-$40 per entre), and a few offer all-you-can-eat options ($10-$15 per person).
I could probably fill 5 pages with shopping info! I will try and highlight a few areas, and I am sure I am missing lots!
Downtown there are all the major labels, designers, stores (we have Coach, Louis Vuitton, St. Johns, etc...etc...), so if there is a particular retailer you are after, you are best to google them and get the address.
If you need to shop for PLUS SIZE ladies clothing, a really good store is called Penningtons (goes up to size 6X). It is similar to Lane Bryant. We also have Addition Elle and Cotton Ginny Plus, which both go up to about a 26W I think.
Metrotown - This is our largest shopping mall. It has everything you need, and then some. It is accessible easily by skytrain. It is located in Burnaby and is about a 20 min skytrain ride from waterfront station. There is a Disney Store there and every other possible store you can imagine, plus a movie theater, restaurants, etc....
Pacific Centre - This is a central downtown mall. Has all types of stores, including Holt Renfrew which is fun for looking at (and buying??? lol) high end designer clothing.
Granville Island & Lonsdale Quay are great for good food, souvenirs, handmade jewelry, kids clothes, etc...
A popular store for Kids Clothing is Please Mum - it is Canadian, super quality and usually has really fun stuff (and reasonably priced).
Robson Street is a fun street (watch for movie stars!) with lots of great stores. It is pretty accessible from most hotels by walking.
Our biggest chain drug stores are London Drugs and Shoppers Drug Mart. See the websites for location info. There are of course several other smaller ones.
Ok...that is all I have time for tonight - I will add TONS more here and there, but still plenty of time before 2011!!
Thanks so much, this is great info to have.
Thanks for posting all that info.
Hope you and your daughter are doing well.
Thanks for all the info. :thumbsup2 Looking forward to the updates as the cruises get nearer. :goodvibes
I have tons and tons of great stuff to add that I know of, and other disers have posted, but will take me a little while and will do a bit at a time. We are still about 18 months out from the cruises - so I think its all good :) lol
Thank You so much!! Great info!
:wizard:Thanks fro the info:goodvibes
Thanks for the FAQ; I hope the Mods give it sticky status!
Let me provide two suggested additions:
Driving Across the Border:
Wait until after the Olympics for updated information. Currently the I-5 / Peace Arch Park and nearby Truck Crossing are undergoing a lot of construction to enlarge the facilities for Olympic traffic; we won't be able to give firm advice on driving across until the construction is complete and Olympic traffic has passed.
Interim Border Crossing Information:
The Peace Arch / I-5 border crossing is at about mile marker 276; if driving from the Seattle airport you most likely will enter I-5 at mile marker 154; 122 miles south.
When driving into Bellingham, WA, at about mile marker 250 on I-5, there is a sign giving border wait times. Do not consider the SR-539 to Aldergrove unless there is more than a 75 minute time difference, as Aldergrove is a considerable distance from downtown Vancouver. The SR-9 crossing to Abbotsford is close to the same time from downtown Vancouver, but considerably farther from the freeway.
If the wait is long and food or a bathroom is needed, there is a Burger Kind 1/4 mile north of I-5 on the way to the SR-543 truck crossing. The only other fast food restaurant in Blaine, as of this writing, is a Subway just off the freeway at exit 276. Exit the freeway and turn left onto Peace Portal drive; the Subway is very close and on your left. The next nearest collection of fast food restaurants is in Ferndale, exit 262.
Awesome information! Thank you! DH and I are really looking forward to the new DCL itinerary to Alaska.
Thanks for sharing the info. It will be very helpful for those of us who are planning to do an Alaskan cruise!
Subscribing . . .:goodvibes
Thank you so much for this info.... Subscribing :goodvibes
Reminder - you don't have to post on the thread to subscribe. Just click on 'subscribe' from the drop-down menu.
Re-posted from another thread:
I grew up in Vancouver and return regularly.
These lists really sum up the highlights:
There are plenty of hotel rooms in Vancouver. That's why so many conventions are booked there. Vancouver is about natural beauty. Walks along the many scenic waterfronts and neat neighborhoods make Vancouver special.
The main area to avoid is the Hastings & Main Area, literally where the term "Skid Row" came from. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skid_row]. It's as scary as San Francisco's Tenderloin or Manhattan's Bowery.
I wouldn't miss going up to Grouse Mountain (weather permitting).
Go to the Capilano suspension bridge while you're there.
A nice driving day trip is up to Whistler along the Sea to Sky highway.
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