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LisaP 06-14-2012 10:55 AM

Ideas for short call in Victoria, BC?
I know this isn't in Alaska, but I've put this question into this forum as it's often a port of call on Alaska cruises.

Our upcoming cruise on Westerdam makes a brief call on Victoria, and at an awkward time. We arrive at 6:00 pm and depart at midnight on the final night of a seven-night cruise, which is a Friday. I expect to be fully packed by then, and we have the flexible dining time option. This will be our first time there, and I'd like to get some thoughts on our plans.

I found a self-guided walking tour of the old town and Chinatown. It starts and ends at the Fairmont Empress and includes Trouce Alley, Bastion Square, Market Square, Fan Tan Alley, and Silk Road Tea (have to have my tea!). It's estimated at 2 hours. I'm wondering if the shops will be open late given that there will be a large ship in port. I know we also have to factor in the timing for the shuttle to and from the ship, and we will plan to leave the ship at least a half hour after the first shuttle to let the lines dissipate.

Walking is not a problem for us. We live in a city and walk just about everywhere, including up and down steep hills. We enjoy history and architecture and are not really into nightlife. (Our teenaged son will be with us.)

Thank you for any perspective!

Cruise Fanatic 06-14-2012 02:01 PM

Our stop with Celebrity was also late at night. I remember some of the shops being open. We took a taxi rather than wait for the shuttle. It wasn't expensive. The walking tour sounds nice.

f-mattox 06-15-2012 10:37 AM

The walking tour is definitely a good idea; it's a great way to get up-close and personal with a city.

You may also want to consider a ride to Butchart Gardens if it is offered. The Gardens are open until 10:00 p.m. through September 3; I've only been there during the day but I think it would be absolutely stunning at dusk with the lights on.

vacationbound 06-15-2012 06:14 PM

On our cruise to Alaska our last stop was to Victoria and we did the Butchart Gardens. Our tour guide took us around the city and showed us the sights and told us stories about the city also. The gardens were beautiful that time of night. I just wish we could have spent more time there.

LisaP 06-15-2012 07:23 PM

I was seriously considering Butchart Gardens until I saw the cost...multiplied by three pax. I wish we had more time there. The cruise we originally booked, but had to cancel, called on Victoria from noon to 11 pm. This would have been ideal, yet a few hours are better than none. Thanks for the input. I agree that the best way to see a place is on foot.

MCPayne 06-23-2012 12:46 PM

Hi Lisa.

Victoria, BC is a common port for Alaskan cruises, primarily because of the Jones Act. It's a shame that ships don't have more time there. Unless people have the late seating, or my time dining (or whatever cruise lines call it), passengers may miss this port, me included, if and when I decide to do an Alaskan cruise.

LisaP 06-23-2012 05:48 PM

That's right, MCPayne. Victoria is a common stop on RT cruises from Seattle due to the Passenger Services Act, part of which states that a cruise that starts and ends in the same U.S. port must include a stop in a "nearby foreign port." Canadian ports are in this category. (There also can't be a permanent disembarkation of passengers in another U.S. port -- so someone can't get off the ship in, say, Ketchikan and stay there.) THIS is a great article on the PSA.

It's not an issue for cruises sailing out of Vancouver. Then again, those cruises may miss Victoria entirely.

We have flexible dining on this cruise. If you have a set dining time, first seating would be preferable to second seating when the call is from 6 pm to midnight, as ours is. Anyway, we'll probably go ashore when we dock and then have a late dinner.

Flkipper 06-26-2012 06:41 AM

I just came back from RC's Rhapsody of the Seas cruise to Alaska and Victoria. We had a whole day to play in BC and it was great. We took the bus tour where you can get off and on all day and it was nice. Chinatown was a bit of a disappointment, very small. Great stores there and beautiful homes and flowers everywhere. We ate down at the wharf at Barb's for fish and chips and it was fabulous!

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