Gateways to Alaskan Cruises: Vancouver

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The great urban outdoors? It’s not an oxymoron in Vancouver. Tall fir trees stand practically downtown, the Coast Mountains tower close by, the ocean laps at the doorstep, and people from every corner of the earth create a youthful and vibrant atmosphere. Here’s a quick look at the best the city has to offer as well as tips for smooth sailing out of its port.

24 Hours in Vancouver

There is much to see and do in Vancouver—luckily there are a smattering of options within relative proximity to Canada Place, the major cruise ship terminal.

Hands down, no visit to Vancouver is complete without a walk (or ride) through Stanley Park, a 1,000-acre wilderness park that fills almost half of the downtown peninsula. One of the most popular ways is to walk along the park’s Seawall Walk, a 5 1/2 mile (9 kilometer) seaside pathway circling the park. A free shuttle within the park makes stop at the most popular spots, including the lookout at Prospect Point and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. 041206_vancouverseawall.jpg

Perk up with a stop at one of the three branches of Caffe Artigiano for the city’s best cup of joe.

A browser’s delight, Vancouver boasts several unique districts. A quick cab ride to Granville Island, south of downtown delivers craft aficionados to the city’s largest concentration of galleries and artists’ studios. The center’s bustling Public Market is the perfect place for nibbling waterside.

Trend-seekers should stick closer to downtown, namely Robson Street for a bevy of brand name clothing stores from Gap to Roots, a proud Canadian sportswear brand. For offbeat shops featuring vintage clothing and threads by local designers head to the 300 block of West Cordova Street in Gastown.

For a bird’s eye-view of the city and Vancouver Island, ride Vancouver Lookout’s glass elevator 50 stories up to the sight’s circular observation deck.

For dinner, pop into Cassis (photo,right) for French home-cooking without the high prices associated with Parisian fine dining.
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Looking to splurge? Partake of the Pacific Northwest’s best pinot blancs and pinot noirs over British Columbian fare at Raincity Grill, a lovely candlelit bistro overlooking English Bay.

Smart Travel Tips

Getting to the Port.
Arriving in Vancouver makes a scenic finish to an Alaskan cruise. Entering Burrard Inlet, ships pass the forested shores of Stanley Park and sail beneath the graceful sweep of the Lions Gate Bridge. Most ships calling at Vancouver dock at the Canada Place (www.portvancouver.com) cruise ship terminal on the downtown waterfront, a few minutes’ walk from the city center. Its rooftop of dramatic white sails makes it instantly recognizable.

A few vessels depart from the Ballantyne cruise ship terminal (www.portvancouver.com), which is a 10- to 15-minute, $10 cab ride from downtown. Your hotel or cruise line may provide shuttle service to Ballantyne.

Airport Transfers
Vancouver International Airport (www.yvr.ca) is 14 miles (22 kilometers) south of downtown off Highway 99. It takes 30-45 minutes to get downtown from the airport.

The Vancouver Airporter Service bus leaves the domestic and international terminals approximately every half hour between 6:10 a.m. and 11:30 p.m., stoppping at major downtown hotels and at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal. The ride costs C$12 one-way and C$18 round-trip. Taxi stands are in front of the terminal building; the fare downtown is about C$25. Limousine service from the LimoJet Gold costs about C$50 one-way.

To travel downtown by public transit, take a TransLink bus marked Airport Station from thes top on Level1 of the international terminal, then transfer at Airport Station to a Burrard Station Bus 98 which stops at Cordova and Granville streets, about a block from the Canada Place cruise ship terminal. To return to the airport, take a Richmond Centre Bus 98 and transfer at Airport Station.
Vancouver Airporter Service (604/946-8866, www.yvrairporter.com)
Black Top Cabs (604/681-2181)
Yellow Cabs (604/681-1111)
Limo-Jet Gold (604/273-1331, www.limojetgold.com)
TransLink (604/953-3333, www.translink.bc.ca)

Parking
Citipark (www.canadaplaceparking.ca) offers secure underground parking a two-level garage at Canada Place. Rates are C$12 per day for cruise ship passengers; reservations by phone or Web, are recommended. The entrance is at the foot of Howe Street.

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