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FlyOver Canada At Cruise Terminal

FlyOver Canada-Alexis

To experience FlyOver Canada, as many cruisers are during stopovers in Vancouver, we decided to take an expert. Her name is Alexis, she is our 10-year-old granddaughter and she has done this — to quote her — “a million times.”

If you’ve never heard of FlyOver Canada, you should. When your ship is docked in Vancouver, half the passengers will be able to see it from their balconies. It’s at the north FlyOver Canadaend of Canada Place, Vancouver’s main cruise terminal, and the ticket booth is right where the hop-on, hop-off bus stops…talk about ideal!

You can walk to it easily during a stopover or, if your cruise originates there, complete your check-in and then walk off with plenty of time to return before departure. 

It’s a short trip, as is the “flight.”

Once you’ve watched the pre-flight movie and completed security checks, you’ll be strapped down for an Imax-type experience that will show you as much about this country of 30 million people as you can see in eight minutes. The Ultimate Flying Ride, as it’s FlyOver Canadacalled, is phenomenal. You actually feel like you’re hovering over a herd of horses on the plains…flying through snow-covered mountaintops in the Rockies…watching the spectacular Northern Lights from close range…passing through the jet stream of the famous Snowbirds.

The sensation is that you’re suspended from a helicopter as Canada goes by below. That sensation includes feeling the wind and the mist when applicable, such as over Niagara Falls…but no harsh Canadian winters!

The eight-minute trip is as much about this incredible technology (and the people who master it) as it is about the sights and sounds of Canada, taking you to places you would never go: deep into the forest as the colors are changing, over the CN Tower in Toronto, hovering above remote rivers and streams.

It costs $20 (adults) because that’s what Imax-type experiences go for these days. If we have a criticism, it’s that the flight is too short, not because you don’t get your money’s worth but because you don’t get to see enough of Canada, none of which is identified as you sweep over it. Another minor complaint is that one of the guides was hard to understand, given that her native tongue was not "Canadian," but that’s always a can of worms, isn’t it?

Our 10-year-old Alexis was excited about seeing it again and wearing a huge smile at show time. Even though we couldn’t take pictures (that’s taboo), she was still beaming happily eight minutes later, when she’d finished watching FlyOver Canada for the millionth and first time.

In the news…

• Costa to build two more 5,000-passenger-plus ships by 2020
• Windstar waives or reduces rates for solos on select cruises
Mexico Riviera deals on Princess for West Coast residents

Today at portsandbows.com: All the latest cruise news

Star Princess
7 nights
September 12, 2015
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $569
Cost per day: $81
www.princess.com

The Vancouver Cruise Experience

If there’s a more beautiful arrival port than Vancouver — this side of Venice — we haven’t seen it. The one time we arrived at the Port of Vancouver, on the Coral Princess, it was breathtaking. Considering that we once lived there, that says something.

Breathtaking, until we disembarked. Then, we were out of breath for a different reason. Trying to negotiate our way through the terminal, past the buses, carrying and wheeling four or five pieces of luggage was, in a word, exhausting.

Good news is on the horizon.

Next year, when the Alaska season brings cruise ships to the West Coast, the Port of Vancouver terminal will be only the one at Canada Place (an older one, called Ballantyne VancouverPier, is being retired). What’s more, changes to Canada Place will mean, in the words of Port authorities: “cruise terminal passenger flows to improve efficiency and optimize the passenger experience.”

About time!

The improvements come in the form of two new escalators, plus additional check-in and marshaling space, which hopefully also includes additional check-out space.And there’s more good news…

Royal Caribbean ships were able to use shore power for the first time, joining ships from Disney, Holland America and Princess. That has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 11,000 tonnes. While we are unable to put that into global context, we know this: It’s good.

Vancouver is closing in on a million visitors a year from cruise ships, resulting in near half a million hotel stays in British Columbia and an estimated $2 million in economic activity each time a cruise ships arrives. But the best part for us is still that getting off the ship — hopefully — will be easier.

We’re happy to have our breath taken away once, not twice.

Today at portsandbows.com: On board the new Quantum of the Seas

Carnival Freedom
6 nights
December 21, 2014
Fort Lauderdale (return): Key West, Grand Cayman, Cozumel
Inside: $379
Cost per day: $63
www.carnival.com

Grand Turk Terminal Trouble

We had an email last week from a sommelier we met on a cruise ship. He is from the Philippines and, in our exchanges over a few days, five words from his email were perhaps most meaningful.

"Without you is without us."

He wasn't referring to "us" in particular, but to all cruise passengers. He was recognizing how dependent people working cruise ships are on people who become passengers. No passengers, no job. Fewer passengers, fewer jobs.

The same applies on shore.

In Grand Turk, the capital island of Turks and Caicos, they discovered what a fine line that can be. More than a month ago, there was an outbreak of "something" — illness which included some cases of norovirus. Health officials are still doing some epidemiological profiling, whatever that is.

The cruise terminal was closed for three weeks.

It opened this week, but three weeks of the prime tourist season provided by cruise ships was gone. Besides the economic impact of $75,000 a day for head tax, there's the incalculatable loss of income to vendors and cab drivers and restaurant workers.

In this week's edition of the Turks & Caicos Weekly News, there is also a story about a Canadian family of six, beaten and robbed at their rental villa, just hours after arriving in the islands. 

At the risk of sounding philosophical, when economically deprived people lose their paychecks, this can be one of the by-products.


Celebrity Summit
7 nights
May 5, 2013
Bayonne (return): King's Wharf
Inside: $559
Cost per day: $79
www.celebritycruises.com

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