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Leaving From Vancouver

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Cruiseship in Vancouver Port Vancouver, Canada, features on many cruise itineraries – usually as the start or end location of a voyage. From Vancouver, cruise lines usually sail north up the Canadian coast to Alaska.

But the city is far, far more than simply somewhere to pick up a ship. It’s a great destination in its own right. If you can, make a little time to explore this city and its surroundings before or after your cruise. Some cruisers choose to spend a week in the city and a week at sea for a fourteen day break.

You couldn’t wish for a city in a better location. Vancouver is situated in the province of British Columbia. Greater Vancouver, of which the city is a part, sits on the delta of the Fraser River as it pours out into the Pacific Ocean. Yet the city isn’t pounded by mighty Pacific breakers. It’s protected by Vancouver Island – between the city center and the island lies the saltwater Strait of Georgia. Because of this unique geography, virtually everything anyone could want from a vacation is within a few miles of downtown Vancouver – with the possible exception of tropical beaches. But don’t underestimate how warm western Canada can become in summer!

City of Vancouver If you like urban living, the city is a model of what cities should be: a giant community hosting all kinds of events and festivals, with a distinguished history and some interesting museums, buildings and other sights. If you prefer the great outdoors, it’s only a stone’s throw away – literally! There are great opportunities for sailing, kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking and all kinds of other adventurous activities.

If you like fishing, for example, you’ve come to one of the best places in the world to enjoy your hobby. Vancouver has miles of coastline, and boats are easily hired. If you’re not an experienced sailor than there are several companies who organize day trips out to practice your boating and rod skills. A firm like STS Guiding Services offer guided fishing trips for those who wish to fish for trout, salmon, steelhead and sturgeon. If you’re a novice – or just traveling light – all gear is provided. As STS are based a little way out of Vancouver, you can stay at their dedicated lodge and bed and breakfast accommodation.

Mountains in British Columbia If you enjoy a more sedate day out, and prefer to observe wildlife rather than catch it, you’ll be pleased to know that Vancouver is a world-recognized center for bird watching. If you like your birds big and dramatic it’s well worth making the journey to the Squamish, Cheakamus and Mamquam Rivers. During the winter thousands of bald eagles can be found here. The rivers are breeding grounds for sea salmon. Every year the salmon swim upstream from the sea to spawn and then die. Watching the eagles make a feast of the dead salmon is a great sight for all ornithologists.

If you like the town more than the country, then there’s plenty of things that will interest you. If your dad has dragged you to Stanley Park to watch birds, you can leave him and his binoculars and find other things to do right nearby. The Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre is inside the park. This palace of underwater varieties contains over 60,000 live species, including beluga whales, sea lions, dolphins and seals. If you prefer fur to scales, you can watch the Aquarium’s river otters being fed. There’s also a newly-opened Tropical section, so you can admire brightly-colored fish from the coral reefs of the south seas in the depths of a Canadian winter!

If you feel the need of a little fresh-air after you’ve left the Aquarium, you might like to take a horse-drawn tour around the park. Natives of Vancouver are justly proud of Stanley Park, which has been part of the city for many years. The tours are inexpensive, last one hour, and include full narration and explanation of the various different sights within the park.

Vancouver Lighthouse After a busy day sailing on the Straits of Georgia or shopping in the city you will probably feel like a pleasant meal. If you have to board a cruise ship, now is probably the time you will have to do so. If you have more time in the city, however, try out some of the excellent local fare. Vancouver has made a name for itself in recent years for excellent cooking. But the city’s chefs still do best the thing they’ve always done best: freshly-caught, beautifully-cooked seafood. There are a huge number of restaurants to choose from, and you’re very unlikely to be served a bad meal.

As you board your cruise ship, you might like to consider the possibilities Vancouver presents for a vacation all by itself. As your vessel slips quietly down the Strait of Georgia, you’ll look back on the lights of this most varied of cities and look forward to the day when you can come back to it.

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