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Giantfan13

Help with Vancouver situation

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We are arriving Vancouver on Sep 9 (Monday) off a cruise and we have a very late flight out 11:30PM. Since we have never been to Vancouver and would like to see something, rather than sitting at the airport all day, what options do we have?

We were seriously considering renting a car for the day (about $30 US) and seeing what we can see, then returning to the airport, drop off the car and proceed to check in for our flight. Is that a reasonable plan? What might we want to see in our short time there? How is the driving in Vancouver and will our GPS device help us to get around?

I was reading about a HoHo bus and that is a decent option but what do we do with our luggage? From the cruise terminal, where would be the closest place to catch a HoHo and does it stop anywhere near the airport, or do we have to taxi around also?

 

Thanks for any and all info.

 

Cheers

Len

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There are several threads on this exact topic.  I was in the same situation this Spring.  I did a 5 hour through vancouvertours.com (LandSea Tours), had dinner downtown, did a little wandering around along the waterfront then picked up my bag and took the SkyTrain out to the airport.  The tour was $130 CAD (under $100 USD if I recall), the SkyTrain was under $3 USD from Waterfront Station.

 

What did I do with my bag?  The Pan Pacific Hotel attached to the cruise terminal stored it for $5 CAD even without a room reservation. However, there MAY be a service within the cruise terminal that will transport it to the airport and store it there for you for considerably more money (they weren't operating in May, I was very happy with the savings and wasn't concerned about getting my bag to the train).

 

There are other things you can do - Fly Over Vancouver (though not really an all-day thing), Calipano suspension bridge (my tour went to a different one via a gondola ride), wander Stanley Park.

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I think a car rental is debatable, depending on where you want to go, how much walking you're willing to do, and the weather.  The downtown peninsula is pretty walkable IMO, particularly along the seawalls, if you are up to it and the weather is ok.  And you can supplement it with public transportation and other options like the aquabus, free shuttles, etc.

One point to note about driving in Vancouver is there are a few one way streets and some quirky traffic flows due to bike lanes and counterflow lanes.  

A GPS/Google Maps should be fairly good but it's not perfect.  I just tested a route along Robson that I know is closed for pedestrian traffic only and Google Maps still routed me through the street via a car.  

 

If you do a HOHO, there should be a stop right by Canada Place where you ship should be docking but it does not go to the airport.  

 

In and around the downtown core, you should be able to visit:  FlyOver Canada (we did a team event there.  Enjoyed it but it was kind of pricey for what it is.), Jack Poole Plaza where the Olympic Torch (will be unlit) is, seawall along Coal Harbour, eastern part of Stanley Park (totem poles, aquarium, miniature train, 9 o'clock gun), English Bay, Inukshuk monument, Granville Island, Gastown, etc.  You can parse it down if you want to visit attractions outside the downtown core like Capilano Suspension Bridge, Grouse Mountain, QE Park, UBC, etc.  Lots of threads and websites with various ideas.  

 

Monday the 9th is the first full week after Labour Day, with a lot of people taking the short week off, so traffic southbound to the airport along the major routes like Granville and Oak may be pretty busy during rush hour, if you decide to head early to the airport.  The Canada Line metro line to the airport will likely be fairly busy too.  You should also be fine if you leave for the airport say at 8pm to get to YVR by 8:30pm'ish if you want to be 3hrs early for your flight.

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7 hours ago, Milhouse said:

Jack Poole Plaza where the Olympic Torch (will be unlit) is

I had totally forgotten this was there until I walked past the convention center and stumbled upon it.  I had time to kill between disembarking and the start time of my tour.  Unfortunately there was someone that had fallen on some hard times hanging around near the torch and water feature while I was taking pictures...

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I'd agree with both above posts - a car is handy for luggage storage and transportation to the sites in the 'burbs and surrounding towns, but is expensive to park downtown (and unless the trunk is big enough to hide your luggage from sight, there's also a risk of your car window being smashed and your stuff stolen at all tourist site car parks as well as downtown core parking garages and even quieter side street parking in daylight - while we are a very, very safe city in terms of 'crimes against persons' like muggings  property theft, especially from cars, is at least comparable to large US cities). GPS works - provided your maps are up to date - pretty well, though parts of downtown with many tall buildings can lose signal for short periods while you're moving which may mean missing a turn if you're unlucky.

 

So first decide what you want to see - and if it's around downtown, just walk (or do the HOHO if you want to have somne commentary). None of the bus tours are long enough to efficiently fill your day unless you drop a ton of cash on a custom tour and hire your own guide for 10 hours - even a trip up to Whistler and back will have you downtown again by dinner time. This is where HOHOs really win - you can take as little or long as you want at the various stops, then reboard the next bus, and fill most of your day from when they start running until when they stop (about 8am to 6pm) all for about half the cost of a typical '4 hour city tour then drop at airport' from the cruiseline.

 

A taxi to the airport should be CAD$35 or less by the time you need to get there (don't turn up too early - 2 hours preflight is more than enough for later flights, there's no Preclearance so you've got one less thing to do but will have to be processed by CBP as an international flight at your first US airport). SkyTrain though is dirt cheap and even faster than a cab, so if you can trundle your bags around it's a great way to save a few bucks. After your touring, do have dinner downtown - airport restos are much pricier - then head out to YVR at about 9pm regardless of whether you are cabbing or SkyTraining.

 

What to do? Not knowing you & yours, which of the many, many local sites is best to fill your day with is impossible to say with accuracy! I'd point you to TripAdvisor, where you'll find lots of suggested itineraries for 1 day that have worked for others as well as the usual ranking system that gives a pretty fair approximation of what Joe Q Public likes best - compare those lists with your own preferences for e.g. more cultural/historic  things, more outdoorsy things, more foodie things etc. and tweak the rankings/itineraries to better reflect the stuff you like best. There's not much we don't have, so it's all about prioritizing the bajillions of possiblities!

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, martincath said:

About Eclipse Sept 22 roll call

 

I want to thank you for your message in the Eclipse Roll Call, I appreciate your interest in helping,  can you guide me with my concerns?:

Assuming that my problem has no solution, Plan B is launched, I will disembark in Vancouver with  my luggage, I will take the Coach Transfer from Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal to Downtown Victoria with BC Ferries Connector 9:15AM.  guide me and give me advice how is the disembarking process at Canada Place?, at what time do you recommend I have to request it?, etc., where the bus will be waiting for the passengers?

 

Gerardo

Edited by gerelmx

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5 minutes ago, gerelmx said:

I want to thank you for your message in the Eclipse Roll Call, I appreciate your interest in helping,  can you guide me with my concerns?:

Assuming that my problem has no solution, Plan B is launched, I will disembark in Vancouver with  my luggage, I will take the Coach Transfer from Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal to Downtown Victoria with BC Ferries Connector 9:15AM. can guide me and give advice how is the disembarking process at Canada Place?, at what time do you recommend I have to request it?, etc., where the bus will be waiting for the passengers?

 

Gerardo

Happy to help Gerardo, though obviously I hope you get this nonsense sorted out on the Celebrity end so you don't need to bother!!!

 

If I'm recalling your situation correctly, you start in Vancouver which means disembarking here should be minimal hassle - you'll already have qualified for entry to Canada when you arrived to board the ship, you'll only have visited the US since then on the first two cruises, and you're not a Canadian resident therefore you won't have to pay duty on any purchases made. This means that both Immigration and Customs will be a relatively token check - odds are that you'll fill out your Canadian declaration form onboard and hand it in to the front desk of the ship, then not even need to speak to a CBSA officer.

 

You will have plenty of time to to find the BCFConnector coach - but I would suggest you ask for a relatively early disembarkation slot just in case. Most ships arrive before 7am, are tied up and cleared to start disembarking pax within a half hour, so the first folks start leaving (walk off groups with all their own bags) by 7:30am. The first groups who need help with bags are usually 8am, as it takes a while to get the bags all laid out inside the terminal. Either way, you'll have about an hour of padding if you take the first 'with help' group and even longer if you walk off with your bags.

 

I've never taken the BCFConnector bus but I have seen them around town - usually they are clearly marked by their decor, but it's always possible that they are contracting any given service to a plain-looking coach rather than one with the livery on it, so do pay attention. Definitely check directly with BCFC whether you will find the coach inside the pier, or outside - if it's inside you'll have many coaches, for private transfers (QuickShuttle runs a 9am service from the pier) and cruiseline shuttles, as well as tour buses, all in the same area which should have signs pointing you to coaches - there are also lots of staff guiding folks to the street, taxis, or buses so if in doubt, just ask. If it's outside you should follow signs to the street then simply look to your right as you hit the sidewalk - all the buses line up right outside the Pan Pacific hotel entrance between the pier and the Convention Centre but again there could be several buses all waiting, so make sure you find the right one!

 

On the other end in Victoria is where you'll have more risk of going astray - you cannot get dropped at the pier, and again if I understand the potential timeline you will actually have an overnight in Victoria before you reembark anyway. BCFC offers several different stops around downtown Victoria so you may find one very close to your hotel - if not, all taxis charge the same price and any downtown hotel should be under $10 on the meter. Likewise, any downtown Victoria hotel to Ogden Point (the only cruise terminal) shouldn't be much more by cab, maybe $12 at most.

 

If you do end up stuck with this illogical and pointless workaround, I'd actually suggest that you book the BCFC service from the bus station rather than the pier - this is cheaper (about $15pp last time I checked, and a cab to the bus station is less than this so even a solo traveler saves money) and more importantly both easier (no confusion about where the bus will be - the bus station is much more clearly laid out than Canada Place and much less busy) and more flexible, as you can book any of several services instead of being stuck with just the one bus a day that goes from the pier. So if you wanted to spend more time in Vancouver before heading to Victoria, you could book a bus much later in the day and still be heading over the day before you need to be there. There are also other options - rental car and self drive onto the ferry, floatplane or chopper, a whale-watching cruise that goes from downtown to downtown, or the V2V Catamaran which does likewise. The BCFC coach is probably overall the simplest and best value for 1 or 2 people though.

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Just an quick add on to Martincath's post - there are three ship in port on Sept 22 so if you are boarding any tour or charter buses outside the terminal- you will likely board them one block south of the port on Cordova rather than on Canada Place Way. There will be plenty of signs and staff/volunteers directing you to the buses.

Thanks

Dennis

 

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I receive this email

Hello Gerardo

 

Thank you for your email.  We will waiting for you the departure time is 09:15 from the Canada Place.

 

As the passenger disembarks off their cruise ship, pass through customs and look for our agent holding a sign that says 'BC Ferries Connector - Bus Service to Victoria BC" and check with that agent. DO NOT attempt to walk out onto the bus loading area without checking in with the agent! Passengers must bring any luggage with them as they disembark the cruise ship, and bring the luggage to our bus so we can check it in.)

 

Regards

 

Sigrid Lehmann
Reservations Agent
For BC Ferries Connector

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On 8/3/2019 at 5:39 PM, martincath said:

I'd agree with both above posts - a car is handy for luggage storage and transportation to the sites in the 'burbs and surrounding towns, but is expensive to park downtown (and unless the trunk is big enough to hide your luggage from sight, there's also a risk of your car window being smashed and your stuff stolen at all tourist site car parks as well as downtown core parking garages and even quieter side street parking in daylight - while we are a very, very safe city in terms of 'crimes against persons' like muggings  property theft, especially from cars, is at least comparable to large US cities). GPS works - provided your maps are up to date - pretty well, though parts of downtown with many tall buildings can lose signal for short periods while you're moving which may mean missing a turn if you're unlucky.

 

So first decide what you want to see - and if it's around downtown, just walk (or do the HOHO if you want to have somne commentary). None of the bus tours are long enough to efficiently fill your day unless you drop a ton of cash on a custom tour and hire your own guide for 10 hours - even a trip up to Whistler and back will have you downtown again by dinner time. This is where HOHOs really win - you can take as little or long as you want at the various stops, then reboard the next bus, and fill most of your day from when they start running until when they stop (about 8am to 6pm) all for about half the cost of a typical '4 hour city tour then drop at airport' from the cruiseline.

 

A taxi to the airport should be CAD$35 or less by the time you need to get there (don't turn up too early - 2 hours preflight is more than enough for later flights, there's no Preclearance so you've got one less thing to do but will have to be processed by CBP as an international flight at your first US airport). SkyTrain though is dirt cheap and even faster than a cab, so if you can trundle your bags around it's a great way to save a few bucks. After your touring, do have dinner downtown - airport restos are much pricier - then head out to YVR at about 9pm regardless of whether you are cabbing or SkyTraining.

 

What to do? Not knowing you & yours, which of the many, many local sites is best to fill your day with is impossible to say with accuracy! I'd point you to TripAdvisor, where you'll find lots of suggested itineraries for 1 day that have worked for others as well as the usual ranking system that gives a pretty fair approximation of what Joe Q Public likes best - compare those lists with your own preferences for e.g. more cultural/historic  things, more outdoorsy things, more foodie things etc. and tweak the rankings/itineraries to better reflect the stuff you like best. There's not much we don't have, so it's all about prioritizing the bajillions of possiblities!

Thank you so much for all this valuable info,

 

If I may add on, if we look to do the rental, and want to avoid a lot of the city stuff, what might you recommend for a day out? We really aren't museum type people and love scenery and I am an amateur photographer so I love taking pix. I don't mind driving either. 

 

One other point, on looking at 'other' airlines, I see I may be able to get a flight out of Vancouver at 12:30PM. Would we be able to make that flight from the cruise? We are seniors and carrying our luggage off is really not a very good thing for us. We could ask for an earlier dismemberment though. I would assume taxi's are readily available at the airport.

 I am not one to 'want to cut it close'. If this might, in any way, be 'cutting it close' then I would rather avoid it and enjoy our vacation and not have to worry if we might miss our flight. If you think this is 'plenty of time' we might go for it.

 

And again, thanks for all your suggestions and help.

 

Cheers

Len

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1 hour ago, Giantfan13 said:

Thank you so much for all this valuable info,

No worries

 

If I may add on, if we look to do the rental, and want to avoid a lot of the city stuff, what might you recommend for a day out? We really aren't museum type people and love scenery and I am an amateur photographer so I love taking pix. I don't mind driving either. 

Definitely look into Lynn Canyon - it's the much-less-famous-but-better-IMO cousin of Capilano bridge, with way fewer tourists due to the lack of shuttles and development. Lots of hiking trails, and a far more attractive canyon (narrower, so unlike Cap where you look down at a ribbon of fairly calm water surrounded by gravel, at Lynn it's frothing white water directly beneath) and you can't beat the price - free!

 

From Lynn you're already on the North Shore so it's easy to get onto the highway, and driving even an hour up the Sea to Sky brings you to at least Squamish (a good spot for lunch), many scenic viewpoints and at least one impressive waterfall (there are others not much further up the road). There's also a gondola that takes you up a mountain to another suspension bridge and a higher viewpoint of the ocean and mountains. I'm also a big fan of Britannia Mine Museum which you'll drive past - despite the name it's nothing like a regular museum, very hands-on, you get to explore the old buildings and go into the mine (and even pan for gold if you like). If you just stop briefly for photos rather than exploring the mine/gondola, you could easily drive all the way up to Whistler and back (~2 hours each way without traffic) - the scenery is pretty sweet up there, and the peak to peak gondola, while pricey, is the longest in the world.

 

One other point, on looking at 'other' airlines, I see I may be able to get a flight out of Vancouver at 12:30PM. Would we be able to make that flight from the cruise? We are seniors and carrying our luggage off is really not a very good thing for us. We could ask for an earlier dismemberment though. I would assume taxi's are readily available at the airport.

 I am not one to 'want to cut it close'. If this might, in any way, be 'cutting it close' then I would rather avoid it and enjoy our vacation and not have to worry if we might miss our flight. If you think this is 'plenty of time' we might go for it.

Even without self-disembarking, a flight at 12:30pm is low risk - depends how many oither cruisers you're fighting with for cabs... with 2 sensible-size ships, Jewel and Wonder, on your date the risk is truly minimal - you would be able to book a 12:30 flight through a cruiseline which means the odds of missing it are almost zero.

 

You'd want to be in the earliest possible disembarkation group to play safe...and you definitely want to avoid signing up for any 'dismemberment' groups 😉 Realistically you can expect to be off the ship by 8am, maybe 8:15am if you need your bags taken off for you. That puts you on the street or in the cab queue by 8:30am or earlier (if the cab queue is short, join it - if not, head up to street level and try to flag a cab at the Pan Pacific hotel or Fairmont Waterfront the other side of the street). 30-35min drive time to YVR means arrival by ~9:30am even if you wait a while for a cab... which meets YVRs extremely conservative recommendation of 3 hours preflight as 2 hours is usually more than adequate even for US flights.

 

Responses within your text above. If you don't mind a red-eye, then the late flight gives you sightseeing time in one of the most beautiful parts of the planet so I'd stick to it.

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Thanks for the wonderful suggestions.

We did decide to book the late flight and will rent a car. We will take the advice offered by some here and see what we can see in Vancouver, return the car and fly home. Hopefully we will have a wonderful day in this lovely city.

 

Cheers

Len

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Reading some of the info, seems parking is a major headache. Say we just want to drive around Stanley park, stopping as we go, is there parking available all over, only in certain areas> I also have a handicapped plaquard, would that help me be able to park in places.

I know, when we were in Quebec, displaying that plaquard, allowed me to park on the street, at meters without having to pay. Is this the same in and around Vancouver?

 

Cheers

Len

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Posted (edited)

There are multiple car parking areas inside Stanley Park (also in Queen Elizabeth Park, which is another popular spot but mostly visited by locals as many tourists don't get outside the downtown core). The maps you can find on the official park sites are very useful - Stanley is here, and just click the links to other parks on the left of the page if you're interested in visiting others.

 

In the parks with multiple parking areas you pay just once for either as many hours as you want or all-day, then park wherever you like for the duration - it's linked to license plate so you can move the car and should to maximise efficiency if you are mobility-challenged. Yes, handicap placards from other regimes are accepted locally, just hang it on the mirror and you can park in the designated disabled spots - and there are usually at least a couple of spots nearest the door/path to the attraction.

 

Edit - you asked about payment too. You have to pay like everyone else if there's a meter - but you can park for a short time in places where it would be illegal for anyone else to park, like loading zones. Full info can be found on this site.

 

Google Maps also has pretty much all the pedestrian routes within Stanley fully-mapped, including with 'streetcam' footage thanks to folks wearing backpack cameras walking around the city. So if you want to figure out exactly how far you need to walk from the various car parking areas to the bits you want to see, you can get it down to a very accurate distance and also see up or downhill and by how much, plus even virtually walk the route to check what the surface looks like (the seawall is all flat like regular sidewalks, but some internal trails are steeper and have unsealed surfaces).

Edited by martincath

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