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Cruise Port — Vancouver, Pretty As The Pictures

This week, we're featuring ports you may find on your cruise itinerary, to give you a snapshot of what it's like, what ships usually go there and what some of the options are once you get off the ship. Today it's Vancouver, British Columbia.

Lions GateIt's unlikely you'll find a prettier port in which to arrive than Vancouver…okay, maybe Venice. It's like a grand entrance under San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge into the waiting harbor, only more compact. 

The bridge is closer (some ships have to wait for low tide to clear the bridge deck), the mountains are closer, the city is closer. In no major city have we arrived on a cruise are you more in the heart of downtown…okay, maybe Venice. You arrive at one of two piers — Canada Place or Ballantyne's (like the whiskey) — and Canada Place is the one with five white sails on top. Also, the pier of preference, simply because it's closer to downtown and that much easier for walking the streets.

Given some time, visitors can stroll massive Stanley Park to see a famous woman in a wetsuit, take a sea bus across Burrard Inlet to the North Shore for a quick trip Stanley Park-PD copyup the mountain (Grouse) or catch a bus for the two-hour ride to Whistler, where much of the 2010 Olympics was held and now a big-time resort, summer or winter.

Or you can just hang around downtown or funky Gastown, which in other cities would be called Oldtown. That's just one of the tourist attractions available at the port, naturally, and for the physically challenged there are wheelchairs and scooters available at Canada Place. We found that exiting the terminal can be a challenge in itself if you just want to go walking, especially with luggage, but once you get street-side it's an easy and inexpensive trip to the airport if that's your next transportation destination.

Vancouver's rapid transit is called Skytrain and, while it stretches far into the suburbs, its Canada Line goes directly from the Waterfront Station to YVR, otherwise known as Vancouver International Airport.

As long as you don't mind leaving that magnificent scenery behind, that is.

VancouverToday at portsandbows.com: A photo trip through Porto, Portugal 

Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas
7 nights
June 1, 2014
Barcelona (return): MarseilleNiceFlorenceRomeNaples
Inside: $839
Cost per day: $119
www.royalcaribbean.com

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