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  #21  
Old June 11th, 2014, 11:33 PM
LoveDMB LoveDMB is offline
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Originally Posted by AryMay View Post
As we got close to Vancouver, we were given forms to fill out to go through customs.



Pulling into the city we went under a bridge. I got all excited thinking it was the Lion’s Gate Bridge…but then realized how stupid I was to think that! (Even redheads can have blonde moments.)



When we pulled into the Pacific Central Station in Vancouver we were dismissed one car at a time to line up to go through customs. By the time our car was called, the line had gotten very long. The line was much longer than the covered walkway so we stood in line…in the rain…for some time.



Oh…and they were also kind enough to immediately unload our luggage and set it on the sidewalk next to the train…also in the rain.



The customs agent we had was very thorough in his questioning. I felt a bit intimidated…but then I am a serious “rule follower” and wanted to make sure we didn't do or say anything wrong.

Outside the train station we waited in a short line for a cab to our hotel…the Best Western Plus Downtown Vancouver. The fare was $12.80 before tip. (I always like reviews that give prices…it helps me plan my budget.)
I like price quotes too! Even though we are a year out. Your review, thus far, has already helped us out a lot. Thanks for so much info!!

Last edited by LoveDMB; June 11th, 2014 at 11:34 PM.
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  #22  
Old June 12th, 2014, 07:32 AM
margob111 margob111 is offline
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I was also on the Coral (with a landtour) the week before you and am reliving my experience through you, so please continue. You are good - I just transferred the photos from my husband's camera to my computer last night so I could start looking at them again.
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  #23  
Old June 12th, 2014, 01:07 PM
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I am loving your review. Thank you for posting. We are sailing on the Coral next July. I also went back and forth about doing the cruise first then tour or touring first and then the cruise. I did decide I didn't want that long flight home from Alaska. it is funny you said you didn't like that at the end so I am glad I picked the tour first. I woudl love to have seen Vancouver some before but we are going to fly in a few days early to see more of Anchorage which will be nice. I can't wait for this trip. I know you said you liked your room as well and I think we are just a few down from where you stayed. I like being two floors down from the buffett. We sailed on the Coral in March and we looked around to see what would be a good room to have. Thanks again for taking the time to write this. Your pictures are wonderful !!!!
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  #24  
Old June 12th, 2014, 01:46 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Our hotel (Best Western Plus Downtown Vancouver) was located on the corner of Drake Street and Granville Street…not far from False Creek and Granville Island.

For those looking for prices...the hotel was booked through one of the large online travel sites for $130 per night before taxes. Originally I had booked at $135/night but when I saw the lower price I was able to cancel and re-book with no penalty.

Our room was located on the 7th floor and had a good view of the city. There was also a roof top deck with tables with an even better view.



Looking south at the bridge leading to Granville Island.



Looking north on Granville Street.



And a night view of the same...



My camera is just a point & shoot, but has an incredible zoom. They are a long ways away, but we could see the house boats anchored at the island.



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  #25  
Old June 12th, 2014, 02:09 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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I just thought of some info I wanted to add to a previous post…

The taxi we took from the train station to the hotel was a Black Top & Checker Cab and I was slightly off on the price…it was $12.20. I wanted to include that we paid by credit card. I was worried we would run into trouble by not having Canadian currency, but we were able to get by with US dollars and mainly our credit card. Prior to the cruise we had gotten a new credit card from Capitol One that does not charge any foreign transaction fees and were able to use it. A couple of times we made small purchases at places that did not accept credit cards, but they were more than happy to take our U.S. currency. I know we lost a little in those transactions, but it was far less than if I had paid the ATM fees to get Canadian money.

The train had gotten in a little late so by the time we got to the hotel it was 12:30 or a little later. Luck was with us and we were able to check in right away. We let the front desk know that our friends would be arriving the next night and they said they would do their best to put them into the room next to ours.

After dropping off our bags in the room, we started walking up Granville Street looking for a place to eat. There was no trouble finding a place…just the hard decision of which restaurant to pick…so many choices. (Lots of sushi place BTW...) We settled on “Donair Dude”…sort of like a Greek version of Subway. You had a choice of meats in a pita and then could pick any or all of the toppings to add. The pita was then grilled. It was a huge sandwich...very reasonably priced (I checked my credit card bill and the lunch special was $11.63 USD total for 2 sandwiches + 2 pops)...and so good.







We chose seats at the bar in the window and enjoyed people watching as we ate. We also happened to notice the clinic offering medicinal marijuana across the street. Over the next couple of days we realized that there were several of these clinics located in the area around our hotel…and they did seem to be quite busy!


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Last edited by AryMay; June 12th, 2014 at 02:29 PM.
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  #26  
Old June 12th, 2014, 04:28 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Originally Posted by 5soccer9 View Post
I am loving your review. Thank you for posting. We are sailing on the Coral next July. I also went back and forth about doing the cruise first then tour or touring first and then the cruise. I did decide I didn't want that long flight home from Alaska. it is funny you said you didn't like that at the end so I am glad I picked the tour first. I woudl love to have seen Vancouver some before but we are going to fly in a few days early to see more of Anchorage which will be nice. I can't wait for this trip. I know you said you liked your room as well and I think we are just a few down from where you stayed. I like being two floors down from the buffett. We sailed on the Coral in March and we looked around to see what would be a good room to have. Thanks again for taking the time to write this. Your pictures are wonderful !!!!
Thanks for reading! If I had an inside room, I think I would have picked a cabin near one of the aft viewing areas...it would almost be like having a very large balcony. We went back there a couple of times and it was always very peaceful, not crowded and not windy! The narration from the naturalist was also broadcast in that area.

However...with a balcony I did think our location was great. So close to the buffet and it was very easy to zip down on the elevator to the Princess Theater. One downside I didn't mention...the forward elevators near our cabin only went down to the 7th floor. That meant when we were going to dinner or someplace lower in the ship we had to walk to the mid-ship elevators instead. Not a big deal, but just something to keep in mind.
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  #27  
Old June 12th, 2014, 04:30 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Originally Posted by margob111 View Post
I was also on the Coral (with a landtour) the week before you and am reliving my experience through you, so please continue. You are good - I just transferred the photos from my husband's camera to my computer last night so I could start looking at them again.
Please feel free to chime in if you want. I know there are things I will forget to mention!
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Last edited by AryMay; June 12th, 2014 at 04:30 PM.
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  #28  
Old June 12th, 2014, 04:31 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Originally Posted by Eileen G View Post
There can never be enough Alaska cruise reviews. I was on the Coral the week before you and I would love to relive my cruise through you. So YES please continue.
Thanks for the comment...and thanks for YOUR review!
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  #29  
Old June 12th, 2014, 04:36 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Originally Posted by LoveDMB View Post
I'm interested in hearing how this works out. We are thinking of taking Southwest to Seattle & taking the train into Vancouver. I'm curious to hear if it's a good way to go...or if it's easier to just go into Vancouver.
I'm sure it would be easier to just fly into Vancouver, but we saved a LOT of money by taking the train from Seattle. Flights were cheaper, we had a credit, and NO bag fees!

I just had the attitude that the train ride was like an excursion...not transportation. It was very scenic and actually relaxing. My husband and I both commented on how peaceful it felt in the train...especially compared to flying.
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  #30  
Old June 12th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by CallieS View Post
My husband and I were on the same cruise! It was awesome! I'm looking forward to your review
Please add your own comments as I go along. It is always nice to get more than one opinion!
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  #31  
Old June 12th, 2014, 05:55 PM
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Great review and photos.
We try and fly into Seattle as well, way too expensive to Vancouver.
Lots of great Thai places to eat in Vancouver as well!!
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  #32  
Old June 12th, 2014, 06:10 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Originally Posted by Colo Cruiser View Post
Great review and photos.
We try and fly into Seattle as well, way too expensive to Vancouver.
Lots of great Thai places to eat in Vancouver as well!!
Actually we did contemplate eating at a Thai restaurant we walked by. My husband loves Thai food, but I'm not quite as much of a fan.

He did get his fix the next day...his lunch was from a Thai food stand at Granville Public Market!

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  #33  
Old June 12th, 2014, 07:17 PM
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AryMay,

Was there a lot of sea sickness onbard the Kenai Fjords Tour? We are concerned about booking this excursion because my wife suffers from motion sickness even with the patches. Great photos & great review. Thanks
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  #34  
Old June 12th, 2014, 10:02 PM
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Default AryMay-nice job! Keep it coming!

AryMay, thanks for taking the time to give us such a thorough review. As always, great storytelling with the photos and succinct commentary. I will be checking in everyday to see how this adventure unfolds. I love the Coral and Alaska is eye candy all the way!

Norris
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  #35  
Old June 12th, 2014, 10:09 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Back at the hotel an afternoon nap was in order after our early morning. When we got up it was nice to see that the rain had stopped. We had no specific plans (which is very uncommon for us) so we just started out walking.

We ended up wondering around by False Creek…a lovely area…





…watched a rowing team practicing on the river…



…and checked out the location of the ferry stops.



For dinner, we repeated what we did at lunch and just wandered down Granville Street looking for an interesting place to eat. “Smoke’s Poutinerie” caught our eye and we went in.



We had no clue what “poutine” was…and for those of you reading who also don’t know, here is the definition I found online:

Poutine is a common Canadian dish, originating in Quebec, made with french fries, topped with a light brown gravy-like sauce and cheese curds. This fast food dish can now be found across Canada, and is also found in some places in the northern United States, where it is sometimes required to be described due to its exotic nature. It is sold in small "greasy spoon" type diners and pubs, as well as by roadside fry wagons and hockey arenas.

Besides the gravy and cheese curds, the menu had different variations of poutine. I ordered mine with bacon and potato filled pierogies.



Bob took the somewhat more healthy route (LOL) and ordered his with vegetables. It was fun to discover a truly Canadian type restaurant (even if it is fast food!)…and now I am a poutine lover!
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  #36  
Old June 12th, 2014, 10:20 PM
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We also flew into Seattle first, hung out there for a few days, then took the train to Vancouver on Friday. I really liked the train. It was very comfortable and roomy. The views were great. Comparing it to an excursion is pretty accurate.

Just an FYI that you can get Canadian currency in the Amtrak station. We exchanged a small amount just in case, but once we blew through that, we used credit cards and US dollars. Very easy.

Lovin' your review
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  #37  
Old June 12th, 2014, 10:23 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Originally Posted by Bimmer09 View Post
AryMay, thanks for taking the time to give us such a thorough review. As always, great storytelling with the photos and succinct commentary. I will be checking in everyday to see how this adventure unfolds. I love the Coral and Alaska is eye candy all the way!

Norris
Thanks for the compliment, Norris. Coming from you that means a lot! I gained so much information from reading your reviews and just hope I can help a few people the same way. The friends that we traveled with actually booked a helicopter tour based on your review!
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  #38  
Old June 12th, 2014, 10:29 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Originally Posted by biojeep View Post
AryMay,

Was there a lot of sea sickness onbard the Kenai Fjords Tour? We are concerned about booking this excursion because my wife suffers from motion sickness even with the patches. Great photos & great review. Thanks
The weather was beautiful the day we took our cruise and I didn't notice anyone dealing with motion sickness. I am not usually bothered by sea sickness, but did take Bonine about an hour before we cruised. I think I would have been fine without it however.

The boat we were on would go very fast when crossing the bay so I'm sure motion sickness would be a definite possibility if the sea was rough. If your wife gets sick even WITH the patch then I'm not sure I would risk this tour. Eight hours is a long time to be trapped on a boat when you are not feeling well.

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  #39  
Old June 12th, 2014, 10:34 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Originally Posted by CallieS View Post
We also flew into Seattle first, hung out there for a few days, then took the train to Vancouver on Friday. I really liked the train. It was very comfortable and roomy. The views were great. Comparing it to an excursion is pretty accurate.

Just an FYI that you can get Canadian currency in the Amtrak station. We exchanged a small amount just in case, but once we blew through that, we used credit cards and US dollars. Very easy.

Lovin' your review
Thanks for the tip on getting cash, Callie. Someone mentioned the ATM to us as we were waiting in line for the taxi but we decided to just take our chances on using US cash and the credit card.

Since getting home I have been comparing my receipts from Vancouver to the charges on my credit card and in each case we were given the current conversion rate. That means the charges were always less than the posted prices that we paid. Since our card has no foreign transaction fees we came out ahead. If you have to pay a 3% fee on each charge then a credit card isn't such a great deal.
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  #40  
Old June 12th, 2014, 10:40 PM
AryMay AryMay is offline
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Oops...I promised I would include prices and I forgot to say what our poutine cost!

The receipt from the restaurant showed $16.25 Canadian, but the charge on our credit card was $15.02. No one ever accused us of being big spenders!!

Our statement shows the Candadian exchange rate was $1.081890812.
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