Our ship docks there & we can't find much info on it. Is there enough to see to just wander on our own for 8 hrs? Anyone recommend an excursion to take? This is our first cruise so we are wondering if it's allowed to go back to the ship early even while it's docked if we are through sightseeing...
We really enjoyed Prince Rupert. It's not commercial at all. I would definitely recommend an excursion. We booked the marine life discovery excursion. We spent the morning walking around the Cow Bay area (Cowpaccino's has good coffee!) and saw two bald eagles right across the street from the coffee shop. We had lunch at Smiley's (very good) and then we went back to the boat for our excursion. What I really liked the most about it is that it was run by the Metakatla First Nations people and they were very knowledgeable about the area. They took us out to see the orcas, and it was amazing when the first one surfaced by the boat! This was our favorite excursion of the cruise. We followed a pod of orcas for about an hour and I was able to get some amazing pictures. I also enjoyed talking to Monica and Maxine, our guides, about life in Prince Rupert. I did hear people complain back on the ship about the lack of shopping in this port, but I found it very refreshing not to see a Diamonds International, Tanzanite, Del Sol, etc. there. All the stores were local stores with local items! I loved it!
I also recommend any excursion that takes you out on the water. Prince Rupert is surrounded by beautiful, snow-capped mountains, and there are an abundance of bald eagles there. To fully appreciate the beauty of the area, it needs to be seen from the water. There is a grizzly excursion that sounded pretty cool, but it was a little out of our price range.
I cannot recommend the Lighthouse & Marine Wildlife tour. Ours was 4 hours of riding around in an enclosed boat with very few minutes allowed on the observation platform. We had 5-7 foot seas at one point and it was not fun in that 30 passenger boat. We finally saw a humpback whale for a little while - mostly blowing and just skimming the water for more air and then gone.
For perspective, my flight home today is only an hour or so longer than that boat ride was. We heard the grizzly bear tour was better and they saw lots of stuff.
The town is neat, clean, and easy to access. Be aware that some of the citizens would prefer that cruise ships didn't stop in Prince Rupert. These people are also opposed to the large container ship port that has been built. It isn't a pervasive opinion though. Most locals are very friendly and helpful.
We wanted to do the lighthouse tour, but it was sold out! Now, I'm glad it was!! Most of the locals that we encountered were more than friendly. One local couple engaged our group (four of us) in conversation the whole time we were eating lunch at the local fish place. It was fun talking to them. Our guide did say she wasn't thrilled about the new container port in town, because she lived by the container port in Vancouver when she was in college there, and she was worried about the crime that it might bring in. She said that as of now, Prince Rupert has very little crime.
The lighthouse part of the tour is really weak. There are four possible lighthouses to see but it depends on the seas. We saw two - a small automated one (big deal) and a larger manned one that looks relatively modern. In both cases we just cruised by them. The impression given by the tour package is that you actually "tour" the lighthouses and that isn't the case.
yes- very true! it was nice noone was on bored when we got back on! It was like that in Skagway too... went to town really early, did what we wanted, and got back on board just as everyone was getting off! it was truly relaxing & quiet!