Frequently voted among the world’s most pleasant and liveable cities, Vancouver stands out as a jewel in the North American landscape for many reasons. Contemporary in its cultural outlook, youthful in its approach to new technologies yet also deeply reverent and respectful toward its heritage and First Nations ancestry, plus boasting relatively mild weather year-round (even in winter). You’ll be hard pressed to find fault with Canada’s west coast capital.
In summer, you’ll find locals soaking up the rays by surprisingly spacious and comfortable beaches just a few minutes from the CBD, while both autumn and spring entices crowds into seaside activity. For those with the means, winter draws large crowds into the Rocky Mountains a few hours drive away for some of the world’s best ski action. The city prides itself also on one of the most packed event and festival calendars covering topics from music and film, sports events and all in between.
How can I get to Vancouver?
From Australia, by far the easiest way is on a direct flight from both Sydney and Brisbane. Air Canada links both cities with Vancouver and Toronto every day. If you’re coming from another part of Australia, a domestic connection to either of the two state capital cities will link you with these services. Both are extremely reliable, frequently on time and have in recent times seen upgrades to the aircraft used on these services, meaning you’ll be enjoying the latest and newest Air Canada service all the way to Vancouver.
Another perk of the Air Canada routes is that you won’t need to worry about changing planes or clearing customs in the USA. Customs in Canada is a straightforward process, Vancouver Airport being extremely organised in how it moves passengers to their final destinations or onward to their hotel or cruise ship. However, if passing through the USA is no concern, you can reach Vancouver with one stop in either Los Angeles or San Francisco, but this means you will need to pass through two different sets of customs officers.
The Alaska cruise season, at least when it comes to the bigger ships and the major cruise lines, usually kicks off in late April or early May as the final throes of winter are shaken off. But when the starter’s gun is fired, stand back and watch as a flotilla of ships carrying the flags of all of the world’s biggest cruise brands sail into town to load up with guests. When it comes to Vancouver, as many as four ships per day can squeeze into the port.
While the occasional ship might make its first stop on Vancouver Island and the towns of Nanaimo or Victoria, most ships begin by cruising the Inside Passage and Tracy Arm Inlet, or stopping in ports such as Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, Seward (Anchorage) and the Glacier Bay National Park. Notable highlights include the Hubbard Glacier and College Fjord.
Alaska is not the be-all and end-all when it comes to cruising from Vancouver. If you’re paying close attention, you might find the occasional voyage heading south along the US West Coast or even to the Hawaiian Islands. These are not frequent, but they do exist.