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bagendek

Eclipse disembarkation and Vancouver airport

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I'm looking forward to scheduling flights for our cruise to Alaska out of Vancouver in September on the Eclipse. Disembarkation day flight selections from VYR to Arizona are not so great. The one non-stop flight leaves at 11:40am and gets us home around 3:00pm, which at least gives us a few hours to settle back in before heading to work the next day. All of the other options leave VYR from 2:00 - 6:00pm, have connections, and would get us home after 9:00pm. The ship is scheduled to arrive at 8:00am and we are planning on taking the SkyTrain to the airport. There is one other ship in Canada Place that day. We don't have global entry, but would get it if it made this flight more possible - first time cruising with an added layer of airport customs which I hear is done in VYR, not when we land in the US. Would we be crazy to schedule the 11:40am flight knowing there aren't many remaining options if we miss it, or is this doable? 

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The time from the Waterfront Station (the station near the port and the terminus of the train) is 25 minutes to the airport. Canadian customs is usually pretty quick. The walk from Canada Place( once you've cleared) to the train is about 10 minutes. The line through US immigration at YVR can be 10-30 minutes depending on the number of travellers. Add the airline check in and security which can be 10-20 minutes and you've got a total of 55 to 85 minutes once you clear Canada Customs at Canada Place. You should be fine if you're off the ship by 8:30. Global Entry takes a while to get so you not may get approved by September. 

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Doable?...yes.  The nearest Skytrain station from Canada Place cruise terminal is the Waterfront Station....about a 10 minute walk.  If I remember correctly, it took us about 35 minutes to get to YVR.   You should be able to make it to YVR by 9am.

 

Now, as you already know...things can go wrong. 

If it was us, we would prefer not to have the stress and book the later flight. 

Happy Sailing!

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You will also need to consider self-disembarkation.  And we have gone through US Customs twice at YVR in the last eight months, and never had the process take around ten minutes.  It has been longer.  

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You can do this no problem. I routinely leave my apt in Vancouver, walk 10-12 minutes to the skytrain, skytrain for 30 minutes to YVR, drop luggage, and clear security and US customs in under an hour. I generally leave my apt for a flight 2-2.5 hours before the scheduled boarding time and have never had less than an hour to chill in the lounge. 

 

If you are off the ship by 9am you will be fine for a 11:40am flight. 

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We did the self-disembarkation in April from the Solstice. Our friend had the 11:30 am flight but it was a domestic departure. We walked to the Skytrain station and we were at the airport by 9am. Plenty of time for domestic and US check in. 

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, vanman said:

The time from the Waterfront Station (the station near the port and the terminus of the train) is 25 minutes to the airport. Canadian customs is usually pretty quick. The walk from Canada Place( once you've cleared) to the train is about 10 minutes. The line through US immigration at YVR can be 10-30 minutes depending on the number of travellers. Add the airline check in and security which can be 10-20 minutes and you've got a total of 55 to 85 minutes once you clear Canada Customs at Canada Place. You should be fine if you're off the ship by 8:30. Global Entry takes a while to get so you not may get approved by September. 

 

I would say the chance of getting Global Entry approved by September is slim to none.  The application process is quick, but once conditional approval is granted, the applicant has to schedule an appointment at a Global Entry Enrollment Center (https://www.cbp.gov/travel/trusted-traveler-programs/global-entry/enrollment-centers/arizona).

 

From experience, I know appointments are hard to get.  It can take months before one is available.

 

PS I've been at YVR when cruise ships have arrived and passengers are returning to international destinations.  it's an absolute gong show.  Don't count on customs or security being quick, especially if you don't have Global Entry.

Edited by knittertwitter
Missed some information.

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If you can self-disembark I'd have zero hesitation in taking that flight (if you can't, then you're also probably hosed for taking SkyTrain as you need to be able to handle all your own bags from pier to train without a porter!). With 2 ships there's a small risk of the other clearing first, so all of their self-disembarking pax beating you to the cab queue, but since you're already planning SkyTrain that's not really a factor.

 

Important thing is to get to YVR by 9:30am - not so that you have two hours, which you absolutely won't need if you make it by then, but so that you beat all those annoying cruisers who will start arriving in big groups once the cruise shuttle buses start rolling in (and the first of them leaves about 9am from the pier). Beat the buses and an hour should be enough to get all the way to your gate from when you arrive at YVR - but get caught behind a clump of folks who have done zero research about anything (because if they have they would know just how godawful a deal the cruise transfers are and not taken them!) means not just a large number of people adding to the queues, but long processing time per person on average because these are also folks who are more likely to be clueless about how to use the kiosks, what to do at airport security etc.

 

Personally I'd recommend skipping brekky and lining up ASAP - usually the first folks start getting off well before any official time and also before any announcements get made. A theoretical 7am docking is usually more like 6:30-6:45am, with first folks off the ship by 7:15am - if you're one of those you could be at YVR before 8am and at your gate before 9am (so you'll have well over two hours to have a leisurely breakfast after you've dealt with all the queues).

 

Actually that's a lie - personally I'd really recommend extra time in Vancouver, then pick a flight as early in the morning as you like when you're leaving days later 😉

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Thanks to all for the insight. Leaning towards taking the 11:40 flight with the goal of bringing carry-on sized luggage and beating the majority of people to the airport. My boyfriend wanted to book it from the start, and I'm a bit more skeptical, so trying to do my due diligence before booking. Extra time in Vancouver is definitely being planned, with work schedules it just works out better to do it pre-cruise rather than post. We're big in to craft beer and local whiskey if anyone has any must hit stops.

 

Also realized I typed the airport code wrong - twice - whoops. YVR. Can you tell I've never been? Despite that I'm a fairly frequent flyer, and pretty good at navigating new cities and transit. I've mostly used TSA Pre Check and Mobile Passport in the past, but I'll spring for the Global Entry when my Pre Check expires since it doesn't seem like it'll get approved for this trip.

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Craft beer we have a metric buttload of - we went past Peak Beer about four years ago IMO, as that's when the demand for new breweries outstripped supply of experience brewmasters who can afford to live in Vancouver(!) For anyone who already knows the basics of the process I therefore recommend not bothering with brewery visits, unless you have a strong style preference and one of the locals plays right into your wheelhouse - then it's worthwhile hitting up the tasting rooms as you will be able to sample small batch brews that might never appear anywhere else.

 

In general though, it's always better to have access to a curated list of beers from lots of suppliers than it is to be sampling just the products of one brewer (as let's face it, even the best brewers excel at some beer types more than others, nobody makes the best IPA and Stout and Lager and Weiss etc., etc.) I still think that there's no bar in Western Canada that beats the Alibi Room for selection, but since it's a wee bit into the scary side of town folks who would rather have more salubrious surroundings could do a lot worse than hitting up Tap & Barrel who have several bars with huge patios.

 

On the actual brewery side of things, Steamworks and Yaletown Brewing are the two longest-standing independent breweries (Granville Island has been 100% owned by a Macro for decades now), with about 30 years apiece, and are both in easily-visited touristy downtown locations - but if you want to do more of a 'beer crawl' of tasting rooms then you need to get out of the main tourist zone and come to the dark side, in (Y)East Van, where most of the breweries are found. You can easily pick half a dozen breweries within walking distance of each other from a choice of a couple of dozen - but without knowing the type of beers you prefer to consume I'd be loathe to make specific suggestions!

 

Distilleries are also operating locally, but most are doing the same as 'craft' distilleries in the US - they don't make their own booze or even age much of it on-site, they buy it in bulk from some of the large distillers out there. I'd say that we have some decent actually-local Gins starting to appear, but on the whiskey front things are a lot ropier - it's only been legal for ~5 years and a good whiskey needs a long time in barrel to get complex! Whiskey's not my main bag personally (I'm a terrible Scotsman on that front) but given the cost of a bottle of spirits compared to beer, I'd suggest again hitting up a good bar - Shebeen (hidden in the back of the Irish Heather) has probably the biggest range of whiskies in the city, so grilling the bar staff there about what the best local brands are would be a good start (and if course sampling a few before you invest in a bottle). If you're into Gins as well, then Juniper (Chinatown) or Botanist (near the pier in the Pacific Rim hotel) both have a wide range including local products.

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23 hours ago, bonsai3s said:

Now, as you already know...things can go wrong. 

If it was us, we would prefer not to have the stress and book the later flight. 

Happy Sailing!

Agreed. We are all over your attitude, as well. I would MUCH rather kill time waiting at the airport, or arriving home later, than go through the stress of wondering 'what ifs'. Maybe one more vacation libation or a decent meal before returning to 'real life'.

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6 hours ago, bagendek said:

Thanks to all for the insight. Leaning towards taking the 11:40 flight with the goal of bringing carry-on sized luggage and beating the majority of people to the airport. My boyfriend wanted to book it from the start, and I'm a bit more s.keptical, so trying to do my due diligence before booking. Extra time in Vancouver is definitely being planned, with work schedules it just works out better to do it pre-cruise rather than post................

 

 

Just a thought -- since you will have extra time in Vancouver pre-cruise, I wonder if it would be possible to get a  Global Entry  "Enrollment on Arrival" interview when you land at YVR, (since that location offers them and they are walk-in interviews that are not scheduled in advance).

 

That is supposed to be the fastest way to get a Global Entry interview.

The "Enrollment on Arrival" interviews are actually intended to enroll passengers in Global Entry when they are entering the USA, but since you won't have time to do it on your way back home, I wonder if perhaps they would let you do it when you first arrive in Canada.

 

When we did our Global Entry interviews, they gave us our Global Entry numbers immediately and we were able to start using them right away, before we even received our cards.

    

 

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7 hours ago, martincath said:

If you can self-disembark I'd have zero hesitation in taking that flight (if you can't, then you're also probably hosed for taking SkyTrain as you need to be able to handle all your own bags from pier to train without a porter!). With 2 ships there's a small risk of the other clearing first, so all of their self-disembarking pax beating you to the cab queue, but since you're already planning SkyTrain that's not really a factor.

 

Important thing is to get to YVR by 9:30am - not so that you have two hours, which you absolutely won't need if you make it by then, but so that you beat all those annoying cruisers who will start arriving in big groups once the cruise shuttle buses start rolling in (and the first of them leaves about 9am from the pier). Beat the buses and an hour should be enough to get all the way to your gate from when you arrive at YVR - but get caught behind a clump of folks who have done zero research about anything (because if they have they would know just how godawful a deal the cruise transfers are and not taken them!) means not just a large number of people adding to the queues, but long processing time per person on average because these are also folks who are more likely to be clueless about how to use the kiosks, what to do at airport security etc.

 

Personally I'd recommend skipping brekky and lining up ASAP - usually the first folks start getting off well before any official time and also before any announcements get made. A theoretical 7am docking is usually more like 6:30-6:45am, with first folks off the ship by 7:15am - if you're one of those you could be at YVR before 8am and at your gate before 9am (so you'll have well over two hours to have a leisurely breakfast after you've dealt with all the queues).

 

Actually that's a lie - personally I'd really recommend extra time in Vancouver, then pick a flight as early in the morning as you like when you're leaving days later 😉

 

Definitely get off the ship asap, and don't bother taking a cab.  As others have noted, the SkyTrain is super quick.  If you're off the ship by 8:00 or 8:30 at the latest, you should beat the rush to YVR.

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13 hours ago, fleckle said:

 

Just a thought -- since you will have extra time in Vancouver pre-cruise, I wonder if it would be possible to get a  Global Entry  "Enrollment on Arrival" interview when you land at YVR, (since that location offers them and they are walk-in interviews that are not scheduled in advance).

 

That is supposed to be the fastest way to get a Global Entry interview.

The "Enrollment on Arrival" interviews are actually intended to enroll passengers in Global Entry when they are entering the USA, but since you won't have time to do it on your way back home, I wonder if perhaps they would let you do it when you first arrive in Canada.

 

When we did our Global Entry interviews, they gave us our Global Entry numbers immediately and we were able to start using them right away, before we even received our cards.

    

 

This is an interesting option, glad to know about it even if it doesn't happen this trip!

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We were originally due to fly back to Atlanta at 11:00 AM, which would have involved a self walk-off and quite a rush to make it safely.

 

Our flight got changed and it is now 1:10 PM, so we have plenty of time to have breakfast an not so much of a panic!

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Our family of 6 has an 11:00 AM flight out of YVR on Sunday, September 1. A few of our crew are elderly and don't get around as well as us younger folks. We're willing to do whatever is necessary to get to the airport in time. Given these factors, wouldn't the Vancouver locals recommend we get at the front of the line to get off the ship, then catch two cabs from Canada Place since that will eliminate the walk to the skytrain? Would that be quicker then renting a SUV or van to get us there? I am worried we may have trouble finding our chauffered ride among the throng of cabs at Canada Place. I'm thinking we should catch the cabs by 8:45, be at the airport by 9:15, and will beat the crowds to make it to our gate on time.

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Skytrain remains the fastest way to get from Canada Place to YVR. It requires walking about 200m from Canada place to the entrance to the station on Howe St and then navigating to the Canada Line Train. Under 10 minutes total walking, even walking slowly with kids and luggage, from Canada place to the train. Trains leave every 7 minutes, and it takes 26 minutes on the skytrain to YVR. The station is 150m from the terminal.

 

Driving from Canada Place to YVR, if you walked straight off the ship into a waiting car, theoretically takes 20 minutes. In reality it takes 40-55 minutes especially on a cruise day when the traffic downtown and around the port is just gross.

 

So I still personally come down on the side of Skytrain, even if speed is your only measure.

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Posted (edited)

I'd agree that SkyTrain is usually the fastest method to cover the distance and it's definitely the most consistent - no traffic at all and completely automated so the 26 min journey almost always takes exactly 26mins. But you may have to wait for the next train (frequency usually ~7mins in the mornings) on top of the short walk so there is some variability; since commuter traffic doesn't clash much with a ride to YVR as they're going the other way, if you see the wait for cabs is minimal it will be generally faster end-to-end to jump into two cabs. The biggest issue with cabs is the bottleneck getting into Canada Place - so the queues can easily exceed an hour once a lot of folks are off the ship - rather than the travel time (Edit - and since you actually gave your date, on a Sunday you have no commuters and minimal traffic so a cab will beat SkyTrain almost every time IF you don't have to wait in a long queue...)

 

Given you mention having fogeys though, your issue is going to be with self-disembarkation - but if you can spread bags around your group so that all your bags can be handled, then you can be among the first folks off, will avoid the hordes at baggage claim, and remove any risk of your bags being mislaid or taken by someone else in error. If you plan to use SkyTrain then you MUST be able to self-disembark (if you can't roll all your own bags from cabin to curb, you can't roll them from baggage claim to SkyTrain either and there aren't any porters to get you to the train from the pier...) so that should be your plan.

 

Regardless of cab or SkyTrain though, you want to be as early as possible getting off to give yourselves some padding just in case. Take the first available disembarkation slot - stack the odds in your favour on the off-chance that there is some uncontrollable annoyance on your date like someone in your party winning the 'random extra search' lottery at the airport 😉

Edited by martincath

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Great info, thanks martincath. We will definitely plan to be first off the boat. The cab may a game time decision. If the wait is 2 minutes or less I expect we will do that and reduce our walk, especially if there are tired legs in our group.

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17 hours ago, friendswithdave said:

Our family of 6 has an 11:00 AM flight out of YVR on Sunday, September 1. A few of our crew are elderly and don't get around as well as us younger folks. We're willing to do whatever is necessary to get to the airport in time. Given these factors, wouldn't the Vancouver locals recommend we get at the front of the line to get off the ship, then catch two cabs from Canada Place since that will eliminate the walk to the skytrain? Would that be quicker then renting a SUV or van to get us there? I am worried we may have trouble finding our chauffered ride among the throng of cabs at Canada Place. I'm thinking we should catch the cabs by 8:45, be at the airport by 9:15, and will beat the crowds to make it to our gate on time.

So close, I’m getting on September 1 and flying home the 8th. Sending good thoughts for a smooth disembarkation as our paths cross! 

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On 6/20/2019 at 7:14 AM, friendswithdave said:

Great info, thanks martincath. We will definitely plan to be first off the boat. The cab may a game time decision. If the wait is 2 minutes or less I expect we will do that and reduce our walk, especially if there are tired legs in our group.

Definitely get off on the early side... the first time we were in YVR we got off mid morning and the taxi line was like a Disneyland ride, looping around for what seemed like forever.  Now we do self disembark, but don't try to be the first in line, and generally just walk off and almost straight into a taxi.  It is definitely nice to get to the airport before the first busses arrive.

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Thought I would share my notes on our debarkation in Vancouver on Sept 1. Extended family of six with three elderly parents travelling with us.

 

 We were all up early this morning and we ran into each other for breakfast in the Oceanview Cafe. It was good and quick and we enjoyed a few minutes on deck as we cruised under the bridge heading into Vancouver. We planned to meet at 7:15 in Cafe al Bacio to get ready to debark but all were there early and we saw the line beginning to form so we got in it. We had all our luggage with us so it was quite a site. The line began moving around 7:30 and move quickly and continuously to customs. Customs saw mom in a walker so they opened a new line for us and we went through almost without stopping. We continued to the taxi line and walked right into two taxis. It took awhile to load us and our stuff, but we were on our way by 7:45.

 

We arrived at the airport by 8:10 and started moving there. There were few lines and despite having to go through ticketing, baggage, security, customs, we were through everything by around 8:45 - must sooner than we expected. Therefore we took our time getting through the airport for our 11:00 AM flight.

 

Our flight left about 30 minutes late and were very worried about making our connection in O'Hare which was only one hour. We arrived only 10 minutes late, got cart assistance for mom, and made our way to the next gate, grabbing a quick bite on the way. We made it on time and were seated on the flight. Another uneventful flight and we were back in Raleigh by 9:20 PM.

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So good of you to get back to us and tell us how you made out.  i hope your cruise was awesome.

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