Posted June 19th, 2017, 09:07 PM
Oh, now that is something to consider! I will have to call Holland America tomorrow to ask if we can do this. That would be ideal if we could though. My only problem will be the car rental -- we're renting one in Seattle, driving it to Vancouver, then Olympic National Park, then returning to the airport in Seattle. I remember pricing a Vancouver-Seattle rental and it was significantly more expensive. I will still check it out. Thanks for the suggestion!
Unless you're planning to drive around outside the city a lot, a rental car in Vancouver may be more trouble (and expense) than it's worth - and NB: the car seat situation, both WA and BC have pretty stringent rules about minimum kid size & weight even in rear seats. Factoring in that plus parking fees may make one-way rentals seem a better deal!
There are plenty of cars that need moved back & forth between Seattle & Vancouver that makes one-way rentals very affordable - especially if you wait until close to your dates, when they know exactly how many cars are in the 'wrong' city. A one-way Victoria- Vancouver to get here ensures a) Canadian spec car seats; b) no border crossing so generally less chance of a drop fee (some of the franchise-holders in both cities are the same people and there's no legal issue about leaving a Victoria car in Vancouver or vice versa).
I haven't researched on things to do in Vancouver yet, only places to eat.
I'll read up on the gardens you suggested! We usually make it a point to visit botanical gardens and aquariums in most of the places we visit. I'm really excited to see Butchart though, I know it ranks highly in the top gardens in North America (though Missouri botanical gardens is spectacular as well!).
While there's no single equivalent to Butchart, we have individual gardens that are even better examples of their types as well as others of different kinds. In toto
there are more high quality gardens here - and their entrance fees are much less than Butcharts even in combination! We have literally the best Chinese garden
anywhere except Suzhou, one of the top-five Japanese gardens
in the world, a free park with gardens of similar style to Butchart's Quarry garden
(not as extensive, but infinitely better value, plus arboretum, ponds, tropical conservatory
), Stanley Park
is arguably the finest urban park in the world and also has many smaller garden areas (plus the aquarium).
Depending where your hotel is, you may find a car of a slight benefit to visit some of these gardens - most are outside the downtown core - but even then consider cutting your rental down to just one day in the city rather than all three. Since you seem to like plants, if you can swing a change to disembark in Victoria then I'd strongly suggest heading up the island to Nanaimo for your ferry to the mainland - and visiting Cathedral Grove in that neck of the woods. Some of the most accessible huge trees anywhere, and a genuinely moving 'nature' experience.
UBC campus might be well worth visiting especially if you have a car - they don't just have the Japanese garden above but also several excellent museums, another botanic garden (with treewalks) and a farm. The other 'must do' car attraction I'd suggest is Lynn Canyon - while not as developed as Capilano they have free parking on-site, a vastly-superior education program and a nice little cafe. The bridge is shorter but higher, and if it's been raining the water below craps all over the display at Capilano (pardon my French, but the very fact that Cap is a long bridge means it's over a wider river - and narrow rivers are where the exciting white-water happens). Plus, it'll save you $116!
Princess: Emerald, Golden x3, Island, Star x2
NCL: Gem, Pearl
Edumacational kiddie cruises: SS Uganda