Customs Wait times in Victoria and Tea at the Fairmont Empress.

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#1
Seattle
7 Posts
Joined Jun 2017
Hi Everyone,

My boyfriend and I are going on our first cruise to Alaska this September. On the way back to Seattle, we'll be stopping in Victoria. The ETA is 2:30pm on Friday 9-22. We are cruising on the NCL Jewel. I know we'll have to go through customs to get into Canada. I made a reservation for tea for 8 (others will be joining us) at the Empress at 5pm to allow time for customs and just in case we are late getting into port.

My questions are: How often are cruise ships late getting into Port at Victoria? On average, how late could they be? How long on average will it take to go through customs?

The reservation required a credit card that will be charged 50% if we can't make it. Should I just try to get a table when we get there instead?

Thanks in advance for your help!
Daisy
#2
Mid-South U.S.A.
287 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
It took 1-2 minutes to get through customs. We had cocktails at the Empress with no reservations. An alternative if you are worried about being late. Or maybe there will be a ship excursion for tea. Have fun.
#3
YVR & PDX
3,649 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
I'd chance it - Victoria does get missed on occasion, if it's too windy for ships to safely dock. Late September is definitely into storm season.

While I'm sure the ship's excursion version would be even more overpriced than paying the Fairmont directly, if you're dead set on tea at the Empress then it would guarantee you a seat if the ship does make it and a full refund if it doesn't. Late Sep I can't imagine there will be enough other tourists with big tea budgets to make getting a table hard though - especially as late as 5pm - so just walking-in should be minimal risk.
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#4
Canada
18,684 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Hmm. On our Alaskan cruise stop in Victoria, the ship and passengers were cleared beforehand and we just walked off. It took over an hour after we docked, but they have all the passport info they need and were able to pre-clear us, if you will. Not sure how NCL does it - this was with Celebrity.

I quickly searched and I don't see a ship's excursion for Tea at the Empress. It is up to you if you want to book this reservation; with 8 of you, it will be a hefty deposit so if you are willing to lose it, that is a personal decision. Having said that, I can't even imagine that you would miss the port. It is a rare occurrence but as mentioned, it can happen.

After you disembark you'll need to get to the Empress Hotel for this, and it is a 20 minute walk along flat streets, or a quickie cab ride for probably less than $10.00. I would NOT take the shuttle bus you'll see there; when we were there it was $11.00 per person return, but Victoria is an easy walk or cab ride (we don't have Uber yet) and I don't know if everyone realizes this.

Have fun.
.
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~Karen

*I have fallen ill, so sadly, no more cruises.*

Already Cruised - listed not to brag, but so you can ask me a question if you'd like:
RCI - Serenade Nov 2015 S. Caribbean
Celebrity - Solstice May 2015 Alaska
RCI - Explorer Nov 2014 Repo/S. Caribbean - 40 ft. rogue wave, lifeboat damage

Princess - Grand Princess May 2014 Pacific Coastal
RCI - Serenade March 2014 - B2B W. Caribbean

RCI - Serenade Feb 2014 - Bahamas - a celebration cruise indeed!
*RCI Scandinavia 2013 - nope - cancelled due to my illness. ~ Maybe next year, God willing.
RCI - Jewel Nov 2012 - B2B Mexico
RCI - Jewel Repo Oct/Nov 2012 Boston to Tampa - Hurricane Sandy
RCI - Brilliance June/July 2011 Mediterranean
RCI - Mariner Oct/Nov 2010 Mexico
RCI - Oasis May 2010 E. Caribbean - 4 adults in one cabin; we did it!
Princess - Emerald Princess April 2009 E. Caribbean
RCI - Explorer Sept/Oct 2008 - 25th anniversary! Canada - Hurricane Kyle
RCI - Liberty August 2007 E.Caribbean - Hurricane Dean - 4 adults in one cabin; we did it!
RCI - Explorer April 2006 E.Caribbean
RCI - Vision Aug 2003 Alaska
HAL - Rotterdam - last leg of her final world cruise ever April 1995 Pacific Northwest
RCI - Viking Serenade Aug 1993 Mexico
#5
24,817 Posts
Joined Jul 2001
We have missed Victoria 2x in September due to winds . I would be hesitant to pre-pay or ask if they would make an exception if the ship doesn't dock.

When I have docked, it only takes a few minutes to walk through Customs.
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#6
Oklahoma City
7,743 Posts
Joined Oct 2000
Weather can be an issue in late Sept, as others have stated.

As to the Empress Tea, can you just show up for it? Our friends did this a couple of years ago without a problem. Also, they said that while it was nice, it was really overpriced. I understand that there are some other nearby places that do a similar tea for alot less money (check the CC boards for recommendations).
#8
Seattle
7 Posts
Joined Jun 2017
Thanks everyone for your responses and recommendations. Since weather and customs times are the variables in this situation, I cancelled my reservation at the Empress and will just wing it. I love the suggestions you all have provided - get drinks at the Empress bar, check other places for tea, get tea at the gardens. I feel so much better after cancelling and am looking forward to seeing Victoria without a worry of losing $300.
Thanks again!
#9
10 Posts
Joined Jul 2017
Unless it is a Sunday or a holiday you will probably not need reservations at the Empress. We have always managed to get a table, although there is often a wait. Double check though, that reservations are not required for tables of 8 or more. I have been to high tea there a couple dozen times and it is wonderful. Do take the time to walk around and see the Empress and it's gardens. It's magnificent.
#10
seattle
509 Posts
Joined Aug 2009
Originally posted by Langley Cruisers
Hmm. On our Alaskan cruise stop in Victoria, the ship and passengers were cleared beforehand and we just walked off. It took over an hour after we docked, but they have all the passport info they need and were able to pre-clear us, if you will. Not sure how NCL does it - this was with Celebrity.

I quickly searched and I don't see a ship's excursion for Tea at the Empress. It is up to you if you want to book this reservation; with 8 of you, it will be a hefty deposit so if you are willing to lose it, that is a personal decision. Having said that, I can't even imagine that you would miss the port. It is a rare occurrence but as mentioned, it can happen.

After you disembark you'll need to get to the Empress Hotel for this, and it is a 20 minute walk along flat streets, or a quickie cab ride for probably less than $10.00. I would NOT take the shuttle bus you'll see there; when we were there it was $11.00 per person return, but Victoria is an easy walk or cab ride (we don't have Uber yet) and I don't know if everyone realizes this.

Have fun.
.
I am trying to find the current fare for shuttle bus at cruise terminal. It sounds like it is now $22.00 /pp RT for the shuttle bus? So, for a couple , a cab would be a much better arrangement. ??
Thank you for a reply
#11
YVR & PDX
3,649 Posts
Joined Jul 2010
Considering that even at CAD$10pp for a shuttle a cab provides equal value and greater flexibility for a couple, while I very much doubt the price has doubled to $22 since I last docked in Victoria 2 years ago there's no way it's actually gotten cheaper so a cab will be better for you regardless. Always nice to know the current price if there are any recent-cruisers reading though...
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#12
Canada
18,684 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by phissy
I am trying to find the current fare for shuttle bus at cruise terminal. It sounds like it is now $22.00 /pp RT for the shuttle bus?
That was me you quoted - where did you read/hear about a price increase? Was it on these boards somewhere? Please link to it if possible.
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~Karen

*I have fallen ill, so sadly, no more cruises.*

Already Cruised - listed not to brag, but so you can ask me a question if you'd like:
RCI - Serenade Nov 2015 S. Caribbean
Celebrity - Solstice May 2015 Alaska
RCI - Explorer Nov 2014 Repo/S. Caribbean - 40 ft. rogue wave, lifeboat damage

Princess - Grand Princess May 2014 Pacific Coastal
RCI - Serenade March 2014 - B2B W. Caribbean

RCI - Serenade Feb 2014 - Bahamas - a celebration cruise indeed!
*RCI Scandinavia 2013 - nope - cancelled due to my illness. ~ Maybe next year, God willing.
RCI - Jewel Nov 2012 - B2B Mexico
RCI - Jewel Repo Oct/Nov 2012 Boston to Tampa - Hurricane Sandy
RCI - Brilliance June/July 2011 Mediterranean
RCI - Mariner Oct/Nov 2010 Mexico
RCI - Oasis May 2010 E. Caribbean - 4 adults in one cabin; we did it!
Princess - Emerald Princess April 2009 E. Caribbean
RCI - Explorer Sept/Oct 2008 - 25th anniversary! Canada - Hurricane Kyle
RCI - Liberty August 2007 E.Caribbean - Hurricane Dean - 4 adults in one cabin; we did it!
RCI - Explorer April 2006 E.Caribbean
RCI - Vision Aug 2003 Alaska
HAL - Rotterdam - last leg of her final world cruise ever April 1995 Pacific Northwest
RCI - Viking Serenade Aug 1993 Mexico