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Canada Place Volendam boarding questions


mcgahrec
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Hi Everyone,

We are on the Volendam to the inside passage departing Vancouver on the 24th July. We are booked in a Neptune suite.

I had a HAL rep tell me that there is no priority boarding for Neptune suite passengers. 

Could anyone that has boarded at Canada Place previously give me some guidelines on what the actual process is ? We are first time cruisers so completely ignorant and don't know what to expect! Boarding time is stipulated as 12pm on our boarding passes. We have transfers included to the port from our hotel.

Any other tips for first things we should do once we board ? 

Thanks 😃 

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45 minutes ago, mcgahrec said:

Hi Everyone,

We are on the Volendam to the inside passage departing Vancouver on the 24th July. We are booked in a Neptune suite.

I had a HAL rep tell me that there is no priority boarding for Neptune suite passengers. 

Could anyone that has boarded at Canada Place previously give me some guidelines on what the actual process is ? We are first time cruisers so completely ignorant and don't know what to expect! Boarding time is stipulated as 12pm on our boarding passes. We have transfers included to the port from our hotel.

Any other tips for first things we should do once we board ? 

Thanks 😃 

That 12PM boarding time is a suggestion.   Actually, boarding will be determined when your transfers get you to the port.  You may encounter significant waits for security etc.  

Suggest, first take any carry on's to your room.  You should have at least one that includes any items you'll need prior to evening meal.  For example, I'm sure you'll have bags to check.  Put your IDs, any medicine, perhaps what you intend to wear that evening in your carry on, not in your checked bags.

Second, you can get something to eat in the Lido.  

Then I would take a walk around tour of the ship.  Find out where the MDR is.  You may want to check on your table assignment.  If you're not satisfied, talk to the Matred at the MDR.

There is a topic here for First Time Cruisers.  Check that out.

Also topics for Canada/Pacific Ports and West Coast Departures.

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41 minutes ago, sppunk said:

There is priority boarding but you get no priority going through customs and immigration - my guess is that’s what the HAL rep mentioned. 

 

 

Yes possibly although we were only talking about boarding and not immigration. Glad to hear there is but based on other threads it seems like there is still quite a queue

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56 minutes ago, RocketMan275 said:

That 12PM boarding time is a suggestion.   Actually, boarding will be determined when your transfers get you to the port.  You may encounter significant waits for security etc.  

Suggest, first take any carry on's to your room.  You should have at least one that includes any items you'll need prior to evening meal.  For example, I'm sure you'll have bags to check.  Put your IDs, any medicine, perhaps what you intend to wear that evening in your carry on, not in your checked bags.

Second, you can get something to eat in the Lido.  

Then I would take a walk around tour of the ship.  Find out where the MDR is.  You may want to check on your table assignment.  If you're not satisfied, talk to the Matred at the MDR.

There is a topic here for First Time Cruisers.  Check that out.

Also topics for Canada/Pacific Ports and West Coast Departures.

How much earlier do you think we should go then to Canada Place ?

Thank you for the tips about taking on our day 1 evening clothes as hand luggage.

We are open dining so may have to take what we get.

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1 hour ago, mcgahrec said:

How much earlier do you think we should go then to Canada Place ?

Thank you for the tips about taking on our day 1 evening clothes as hand luggage.

We are open dining so may have to take what we get.

I can't advise you on when to arrive at Canada Place.  I've never been there.  Please check out the threads in Canada/Pacific and West Coast Departures for better advice than I can give.  

 

I will tell you what I plan to do.  We have the cruise package at Pan Pacific.  It includes a bag transfer to the port and late check out at 2 PM.  We intend to have lunch and stay at the hotel until 1 or 2 PM.  In the past, we've always rushed to get to the port and board the ship.  From reading the threads I've recommended, you either want to get to the port before 10AM or after 1 PM.  I don't do well sitting and waiting.  If I have too, I'd rather do that in comfort.  Hence, we're going after lunch.  

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3 minutes ago, RocketMan275 said:

I can't advise you on when to arrive at Canada Place.  I've never been there.  Please check out the threads in Canada/Pacific and West Coast Departures for better advice than I can give.  

 

I will tell you what I plan to do.  We have the cruise package at Pan Pacific.  It includes a bag transfer to the port and late check out at 2 PM.  We intend to have lunch and stay at the hotel until 1 or 2 PM.  In the past, we've always rushed to get to the port and board the ship.  From reading the threads I've recommended, you either want to get to the port before 10AM or after 1 PM.  I don't do well sitting and waiting.  If I have too, I'd rather do that in comfort.  Hence, we're going after lunch.  

When is your cruise ?

We have a similar package in the Four seasons with a late check out of 2pm. I like the sound of that, leisurely lunch and then board after the crowd. 

I did try and search Canada place specifically in the threads before posting here 

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Just now, mcgahrec said:

When is your cruise ?

We have a similar package in the Four seasons with a late check out of 2pm. I like the sound of that, leisurely lunch and then board after the crowd. 

I did try and search Canada place specifically in the threads before posting here 

Our cruise is 14 September.  

Look at these threads:

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/315-west-coast-departures/

https://boards.cruisecritic.com/forum/23-canada-alaskapacific-coastal/

 

Look for posts by martincath

 

 

 

 

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My experience on June 12th. Had received email from HAL a week prior saying since 3ships in port to arrive between 10 and 12 or between 2 and 3. I was in Neptune Suite and stayed at Pan Pacific hotel. I left hotel room at 10:35, checked in a priority NS checkin, went downstairs and through security , no lines there, went thru US immigration , into waiting room and asked rep where NS people sit, and was told I could board now. It was 11am , cabins were ready and I was in mine by 11:10. 

 

This was the easiest and earliest embarkation I have ever experienced. I was told by crew member that the hotel director wants passengers to board as soon as possible.

 

Hope yours will be as easy.

 

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24 minutes ago, SJSULIBRARIAN said:

My experience on June 12th. Had received email from HAL a week prior saying since 3ships in port to arrive between 10 and 12 or between 2 and 3. I was in Neptune Suite and stayed at Pan Pacific hotel. I left hotel room at 10:35, checked in a priority NS checkin, went downstairs and through security , no lines there, went thru US immigration , into waiting room and asked rep where NS people sit, and was told I could board now. It was 11am , cabins were ready and I was in mine by 11:10. 

 

This was the easiest and earliest embarkation I have ever experienced. I was told by crew member that the hotel director wants passengers to board as soon as possible.

 

Hope yours will be as easy.

 

wow that does sound fab - lots of time then to check out the ship and get settled. 

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16 hours ago, mcgahrec said:

We have transfers included to the port from our hotel.

Since I was kindly name-checked above, but it looks like you've already received the sensible 'ignore official boarding time and go early if you want to be on board early' advice, I'll focus on this part of your post - which hotel are you staying in? I ask because even if it's an airport hotel you've probably been overcharged a fair bit by HAL compared to doing it independently, and if it's a downtown hotel you will have been overcharged to a degree with will seem impossible to believe...

 

Downtown Vancouver is extremely compact, and the pier is slap-bang in the heart of it. HALs preferred precruise hotel is the Pan Pacific - the one referenced a couple of posts above - and it's literally in the same building, so you only have to take the elevator or stairs to get down to your cruise! So if you're in the PP you will be paying literally infinitely more than the actual incurred cost of an independent transfer 😉

 

The typical transfer fee is US$29pp - and a cab from even the furthest downtown hotel in heavy traffic would not break CAD$20 for the entire vehicle. Airport hotels you're looking at a ~10 mile ride, so ballpark CAD$40. Even a solo traveler coming from the airport is paying basically the same amount as their very own cab, and for 2/3/4 people it just gets worse value. 3+ people, a LIMO becomes cheaper! Usually a hotel to pier transfer is packaged with an airport-to-hotel package, so you're being overcharged twice just to make things even more annoying!

 

Ah, but what about the extra convenience of a cruise transfer? Surely they handle my luggage? Yes - from the hotel lobby (saving you walking from lobby to curb - but bell staff would do that anyway...) and inside the pier (where taxis pull up is within a few yards of the bag drop, and if that's too much there are longshoremen walking around with luggage cages). As already mentioned, you also have the issue of timing - cruise transfers leave when THEY want you to, not when YOU want to - so all-in-all you pay more money for an inferior service. This is an aspect of cruising where Travel Agents suck - they often automatically add transfers, so the cruise price goes up and they get a tiny bit of extra commission.

 

In short - cancel the transfers! Spend that money instead on a lovely lunch downtown before boarding late (even if you get lucky like poster above and have minimal queues early on, there are still factors entirely out of the control of the cruiselines - specifically immigration - so it's actually very unusual for any ship to have boarding begin as early as that. Every single person getting off, and especially B2B people, have to be confirmed off the ship before any new folks are allowed to start the embarkation process - if a few numpties doing a B2B don't get off like they are supposed to and have to be hunted down and kicked off, you can actually be sitting around until noon before the queues start moving).

 

Board really late though, and you will always get that experience of walking straight through all the stages with minimal queues! Since we gave up on trying to board early enough to get our 'free' lunch life has been sooooo much more pleasant - curb to cabin as quick as 20mins. Just be sure to arrive not much less than 2 hours before the ship is meant to leave - if you arrive after the T-90 minute mark you may be denied boarding as passenger manifests have to go to US authorities by then. So leave the stuff right near the pier until last, whether that's lunch or a ride on FlyOverCanada or a walk around Gastown - remove the risk of being dependent on transportation and you can very safely cut the margins really tight.

 

Result: embarkation day suddenly offers up to 6 hours of extra bonus sightseeing time in one of the finest cities on the planet, which strikes me as a far better proposition than a little extra time on-board in port (where local tax - 15% - will be added to all booze purchases, even if you have a package!!!!)

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Like some of the other posts, we enjoy staying at the Pan Pacific when cruising out of Vancouver. Don't think you can beat the convenience factor. Also, I can confirm you'll get a much better price on your room with the same perks by booking direct with the hotel and not via HAL. Give the bellhop your checked luggage, (which will show up in your cabin).take your carry-on and enjoy.

We also like boarding after 1 p.m., usually closer to 2 p.m. A nice lunch ashore in a lovely area and then usually it's a quick embark as NS guests.

Last cruise from Vancouver was on Celebrity and we had no "status" so it was a slow slog through security , etc. But on HAL, as NS passengers it was much easier,

We'll find out in October if it still that smooth when boarding after the rush.

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Just off the June 19th sailing of the Volendam.  We arrived at the port about 11:50 AM and were in our stateroom, dropping off the carryon, by 12:20.  There were 3 couples in our group and we boarded together.  And this mornings disembarkation was even faster.  We were in one on the last groups to depart - called us at 5 to 9 and we were on the other side of customs by 9:10  - I can’t believe how fast it went!

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Is there a convenient place at the port to buy bottled water to take onboard for the cruise? We fly to Vancouver and arrive at 11:30am so we will not be at the port until 1pm or so.

 

Thanks

Terry

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6 hours ago, terrydtx said:

Is there a convenient place at the port to buy bottled water to take onboard for the cruise? We fly to Vancouver and arrive at 11:30am so we will not be at the port until 1pm or so.

 

Thanks

Terry

There's a food court and various stores in a mall under the pier, but if you're looking at buying a case of water rather than just a couple of bottles to refill you'll find MUCH keener pricing in supermarkets/large pharmacies. If price isn;t a factor keep it simple and jut buy at 7-11 at the airport before getting into your cab!

 

1pm is usually still pretty busy even on a 2-ship day (Amtrak arrivals tend to still be coming in until 1pm even if the train is on time, if it's ~20-30mins late as it commonly is their numbers will be peaking at 1pm), so I'd suggest just dropping bags with the longshoremen then heading into Gastown to see Steam Clock/gassy Jack statue. Buy a case of water at Nesters or London Drugs (both in the same building, <15mins walk back to the pier). This would be an ideal way to kill 30-40mins (up to 15mins more if you wait around for the Steam Clock to do it's thing) and then board when it should definitely be quieter. Map showing route/walk times here.

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On 6/25/2019 at 11:26 PM, martincath said:

Since I was kindly name-checked above, but it looks like you've already received the sensible 'ignore official boarding time and go early if you want to be on board early' advice, I'll focus on this part of your post - which hotel are you staying in? I ask because even if it's an airport hotel you've probably been overcharged a fair bit by HAL compared to doing it independently, and if it's a downtown hotel you will have been overcharged to a degree with will seem impossible to believe...

 

Downtown Vancouver is extremely compact, and the pier is slap-bang in the heart of it. HALs preferred precruise hotel is the Pan Pacific - the one referenced a couple of posts above - and it's literally in the same building, so you only have to take the elevator or stairs to get down to your cruise! So if you're in the PP you will be paying literally infinitely more than the actual incurred cost of an independent transfer 😉

 

The typical transfer fee is US$29pp - and a cab from even the furthest downtown hotel in heavy traffic would not break CAD$20 for the entire vehicle. Airport hotels you're looking at a ~10 mile ride, so ballpark CAD$40. Even a solo traveler coming from the airport is paying basically the same amount as their very own cab, and for 2/3/4 people it just gets worse value. 3+ people, a LIMO becomes cheaper! Usually a hotel to pier transfer is packaged with an airport-to-hotel package, so you're being overcharged twice just to make things even more annoying!

 

Ah, but what about the extra convenience of a cruise transfer? Surely they handle my luggage? Yes - from the hotel lobby (saving you walking from lobby to curb - but bell staff would do that anyway...) and inside the pier (where taxis pull up is within a few yards of the bag drop, and if that's too much there are longshoremen walking around with luggage cages). As already mentioned, you also have the issue of timing - cruise transfers leave when THEY want you to, not when YOU want to - so all-in-all you pay more money for an inferior service. This is an aspect of cruising where Travel Agents suck - they often automatically add transfers, so the cruise price goes up and they get a tiny bit of extra commission.

 

In short - cancel the transfers! Spend that money instead on a lovely lunch downtown before boarding late (even if you get lucky like poster above and have minimal queues early on, there are still factors entirely out of the control of the cruiselines - specifically immigration - so it's actually very unusual for any ship to have boarding begin as early as that. Every single person getting off, and especially B2B people, have to be confirmed off the ship before any new folks are allowed to start the embarkation process - if a few numpties doing a B2B don't get off like they are supposed to and have to be hunted down and kicked off, you can actually be sitting around until noon before the queues start moving).

 

Board really late though, and you will always get that experience of walking straight through all the stages with minimal queues! Since we gave up on trying to board early enough to get our 'free' lunch life has been sooooo much more pleasant - curb to cabin as quick as 20mins. Just be sure to arrive not much less than 2 hours before the ship is meant to leave - if you arrive after the T-90 minute mark you may be denied boarding as passenger manifests have to go to US authorities by then. So leave the stuff right near the pier until last, whether that's lunch or a ride on FlyOverCanada or a walk around Gastown - remove the risk of being dependent on transportation and you can very safely cut the margins really tight.

 

Result: embarkation day suddenly offers up to 6 hours of extra bonus sightseeing time in one of the finest cities on the planet, which strikes me as a far better proposition than a little extra time on-board in port (where local tax - 15% - will be added to all booze purchases, even if you have a package!!!!)

Thanks for all this Martin, I had no clue really that HAL controlled the transfer time from the hotel. I understand now why our documents say 12pm boarding time as that is the suggestion of the transfer time from the hotel.. we will have to see what time they suggest on the day and we may just make our own way there a bit later.

We are staying in the Four Seasons.

 

I notice a lot of people talking about bottled water on the posts. Is it necessary to bring your own when bottled water is available on board (included in signature/quench package) Just wondering whether to save us having to lug on bottled water in carry on. 

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On 6/27/2019 at 1:23 PM, MsYukon said:

Just off the June 19th sailing of the Volendam.  We arrived at the port about 11:50 AM and were in our stateroom, dropping off the carryon, by 12:20.  There were 3 couples in our group and we boarded together.  And this mornings disembarkation was even faster.  We were in one on the last groups to depart - called us at 5 to 9 and we were on the other side of customs by 9:10  - I can’t believe how fast it went!

Sounds like a dream experience. 

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7 hours ago, wyobean said:

We will be boarding the Westerdam on Sunday. I will come back and tell you how it goes. We have Global Entry(just got it). Will it be any benefit to us here?

It should - but signage is poor! Self-advocate - look carefully for signs and if there aren't any start asking all the staff you see where the NEXUS lane is (Canadians are more likely to know what that is than Global Entry - they're the same thing for getting into the US though) and you should find that the worst bottleneck, CBP, has a dedciated lane for you.

9 hours ago, mcgahrec said:

Thanks for all this Martin, I had no clue really that HAL controlled the transfer time from the hotel. I understand now why our documents say 12pm boarding time as that is the suggestion of the transfer time from the hotel.. we will have to see what time they suggest on the day and we may just make our own way there a bit later.

We are staying in the Four Seasons.

 

I notice a lot of people talking about bottled water on the posts. Is it necessary to bring your own when bottled water is available on board (included in signature/quench package) Just wondering whether to save us having to lug on bottled water in carry on. 

If you have a package that includes bottled water, I simply can't imagine why you'd want to go look for any to buy in port!!!


Four Seasons is close enough to the pier you could walk it with suitcases as long as you don't have any mobility issues, and it's also about as simple as a route gets to describe: less than 700 yards straight down Howe Street.

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