A cruise ship at the terminal in Vancouver BC
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Cruise Ship Terminal of Vancouver BC – Visitor Guide

The Cruise Ship Terminal of Vancouver is a bustling port in the summertime, especially for Alaskan Cruises. It is located right downtown at Canada Place.

Cruise ship terminal of Vancouver BC map
Port of Vancouver

Cruises to and From The Port of Vancouver

Cruise ship season in the port of Vancouver starts from Mid April to the end of September. Almost every major Cruise line offers itineraries to or from Vancouver. The main cruise itineraries departing and arriving in Vancouver are:

  • Beginning of Alaska Season (end of April) repositioning from L.A. to Vancouver
    • Inside passage 7 nights return
    • Northbound 7 nights from Vancouver to Anchorage (Seward or Wittier)
    • Southbound 7 nights from Anchorage arriving at Vancouver
    • Luxury Cruises 7 to 15 Nights either return or roundtrip
  • Hawaii Cruises 15 nights roundtrip
  • End of Alaska Season (End of September) repositioning from Vancouver to L.A.

Tip: Occasionally, you can take a one night cruise from Vancouver to Seattle or vice versa, for an incredible price!

Most Common Cruise Lines

At the peak of the Alaska season, almost every cruise line has one or more cruises from Vancouver. The most popular cruise lines that sail out of Vancouver are:

  • Princess Cruises
  • Holland America
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • NCL
  • Disney
  • Oceania
The Norwegian Jewel in the Cruise Ship Terminal of Vancouver

How to get to the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal

If you’re starting from the airport (also known as YVR), you can easily reach the cruise ship terminal by Skytrain (Canada Line). Indeed, the Skytrain runs every 5-10 minutes and will take you from YVR to Vancouver Waterfront station in under 30 minutes.  Conversely, you can take a taxi from the airport at the cost of about CAD 35.00.  Furthermore, it takes about 30-60 minutes to get to the terminal in rush-hour.

Skytrain in Vancouver BC heading to the Airport (YVR) from Waterfront Station

All 3 Skytrain lines end at the waterfront station where the Cruise Ship terminal is located, making it extremely convenient to reach.  Also, North Vancouver is conveniently reached by sea bus in about 15 minutes.  Also, the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal is conveniently located just two blocks away from the seaplane airport. The seaplane airport is a great way to reach Victoria, Nanaimo, and other towns on Vancouver Island.

Avoid driving to the cruise port, as parking is costly.  Instead, consider there are car rentals around the port, mostly located in the hotels nearby.

Embarkation Procedure in the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal

The port can be incredibly busy in the summertime with 2-3 ships per day, and the embarkation process can take up to 2 hours. Once you enter the port, you will see the area where you can drop your bags off. Then, someone will direct you to the first floor, where you will be able to check in with the cruise line and get your cruise card.

You will be assigned a number, and you will sit in a waiting room until your number gets called.  When your number gets called, someone will direct you downstairs, where you will pass security and U.S. Customs & Immigration. This procedure is to avoid long lines at security and immigration. Once you passed immigration you are clear to board your ship. The bottom line, arrive early, especially when more than one ship is in port. You can check the cruise ship schedule from the Port Authority Website at this link.

Sail Away Party

Sailing away from Vancouver it is quite spectacular, especially on a sunny afternoon. You will have a beautiful view of downtown on the south side and the North Shore mountains on the north. You will then pass under the Lions Gate bridge, with only a few meters of clearance.

Disembarkation Procedure

Disembarking in Vancouver is incredibly easy. For example, you will have to fill up your Custom Declaration Form on board and present it at the Officer in port.  Most of the time it takes 5 minutes from the time you (sadly) swipe your cruise card for the last time to the time you are outside the port.  Additionally, Taxi lines can be quite long at the port.  A secret to avoid long wait times for a cab is to walk outside the port to one of the 3 hotels outside and ask the bellman to call you a taxi…. don’t tell anybody!

Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal as Viewed from North Vancouver

Hotels in the Port of Vancouver Area

There are several high-end hotels within 5 minutes walking radius of the hotel. Indeed, the Pan Pacific Hotel is right in the terminal. Across the street, you’ll find the Fairmont Waterfront.  One block west, you’ll find the Fairmont Pacific Rim.  Lastly, four blocks south, you’ll reach the Four Seasons.  Downtown hotels are all pretty expensive, ranging from CAD 200.00 and up at the peak of the cruise season.  By contrast, if you’re on a budget, consider a hotel at Metrotown in Burnaby and take the Skytrain (Expo Line) to the waterfront station. The Skytrain ride takes less than 30 minutes and costs less than CAD 5.00.

If you book a hotel downtown, the best way to reach the terminal is by Taxi.  It takes 5-10 minutes to arrive, and it costs CAD $10-15.00.

What Currency Should You Use in Vancouver

Like most Canadian metropolitan cities, many vendors will accept USD; however, the conversion rate is likely to range from unfavorable to predatory.  Of course, if you’re buying a coffee, it may not make any difference.

It’s important to know that Vancouver uses Canadian dollars.  We recommend that you get about 100 Canadian dollars from your local country before visiting.  By having 100 Canadian dollars, you will be able to cover pretty much any small incidental purchase.

A taxi, for example, from YVR to the Vancouver Cruise Terminal, will cost about $35.  Of course, Taxi’s also accept credit cards as well.

Additionally, you might consider withdrawing more from the ATM, if needed.  Incidentally, ATM’s around the world are known for usually providing the very best currency conversion rates possible.  To be sure, this goes for practically any international travel.

Furthermore, most Canadian vendors happily accept Visa and Mastercard credit cards, and larger vendors and stores will accept American Express.

WiFi in the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal

In Vancouver, there are two main free WiFi networks available around the city, including the port. Namely, the two most popular networks are Shaw Open and Telus. You might need to register with them to be able to use the WiFi. Alternatively, you can use the WiFi at Starbucks right in front of the port entrance.

Activities in the Area

The Vancouver cruise ship terminal is located in Downtown Vancouver.  Indeed, it’s location makes it incredibly convenient to explore all the major attractions in Vancouver.  For example, you might visit Gastown, Pacific Centre Mall, Robson Street, Chinatown, and the seawall.  All of these are between a 5-20 minute walk from the Vancouver Cruise ship terminal exit. (Here is a list of the main attractions in Vancouver).

Starting from or ending at the Vancouver Cruise Ship terminal is ideal for shopping, as all the major shopping areas are less than a 10 minutes walk away from the port. The area is also perfect for finding a great spot to eat, from high-end restaurants to food trucks that are all within walking distance.

Pro Tips for Navigating the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal

Always fly the day before your cruise, this is not only for Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal, but it is good advice for any cruise port.  Additionally, check the port website for your embarkation day and see how many ships are in port.  If your ship is the only one, allow at least one hour for embarkation. If there is more than one ship allow at least 2.5-3 hours for boarding.  Of course, it’s always best to arrive at the port as early as you can to avoid stress.

Be prepared to walk a little for embarkation.  Then, when your cruise arrives in Vancouver, you can have your Customs Declaration Form and Passport handy. If you are flying our of Vancouver, there is no need to book the expensive cruise line transfer to the airport.  Walk outside the port and take the Skytrain in less than 30 minutes, you will be at the airport for about CAD 5.00.

-Happy Cruising

P.S.> If you’re familiar with a cruise port and wish to write about it, please contact us here.

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