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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

Picking A Cruise By Shore Savings

Vancouver

Two years ago, the U.S. and Canadian dollars were at par. According to yesterday’s exchange rates, $1.00 U.S. was worth $1.22 Canadian. That kind of gap usually means an exodus of tourists in the direction of better deals, and apparently that’s what is happening in conjunction with Alaska cruises originating in Vancouver.

According to a report by Canada’s national broadcaster, CBC, the falling Canadian dollar is encouraging more Americans to cruise out of Vancouver this summer…perhaps combining a cruise with a Canadian vacation. The report estimates that 70 per cent of passengers boarding ships bound for Alaska in the Port of Vancouver are Americans.

It’s not so much that cruises are better deals — Americans booking cruises from Vancouver pay in U.S. dollars — as it is that everything else around the departure and return is a deal. Hotels, restaurants, tours, taxis…the whole enchilada.

The number of cruise visitors this year is expected to be about 800,000, on par with last year. That’s from 227 visits on 32 cruise ships. However, tourism analysts say Americans are likely to stay longer before or after the cruise, and spend more because of the currency bargains.

This foreign currency concept is foreign to us. Everybody likes a deal but our choices in picking a cruise would be more inclined to focus on whether the cruise is a deal, not whether the hotel before leaving was.

What about you?

In the news…

• Costa Deliziosa to sail from Fort Lauderdale starting in December
• Norwegian Dawn passengers anticipating compensation for delay
• Luxury cruise market expecting 53 per cent jump by 2018
• Azamara launches ‘Cruise Global, Eat Local’ dining program

Today at portsandbows.comA $90-million terminal upgrade for Quebec

Royal Caribbean Adventure of the Seas
7 nights
September 20, 2015
San Juan (return): St. Croix, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia
Inside: $489
Cost per day: $69
www.royalcaribbean.com

Vancouver Reducing Boarding Time

 

Since 9-11, “clearing customs” has run the gamut of being everything from a nightmare to a piece of cake for international travelers…more often a bad dream than a sweet treat.

Among other things, and in the interests of making it easier for the masses to navigate their way in and out of the U.S., the complications have spawned trusted traveler programs and, more recently, automated terminals for airline passengers in many airports.

Port of VancouverVancouver’s cruise terminal has 10 machines. It’s the first time U.S.-bound cruise passengers have been able to utilize automated passport technology.

Translation: quicker embarkation.

It’s called BorderXpress, and if you’re taking an Alaska cruise from Vancouver this year, you should make note of it so that you’re prepared. If you’re new to Automated Passport Control (as it’s called), you simply scan your passport, answer questions on the screen, pick up your receipt and then meet a customs officer.

It’s supposed to allow customs officer to process four times as many passengersm — or the same number of passengers four times faster. In theory, if it has taken you an hour to board a ship in Vancouver, you should now be able to embark in 15 minutes…or so.

In a statement, U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deputy Director Kurry Pastilong said this:

“The recent evolution of APC for cruise ship passengers is just one more way that the agency is striving to ease the flow of passengers without sacrificing core mission requirements.”

From our experience, it works well in airports. There is every reason to think it will at the Port of Vancouver…and hopefully many other cruise terminals.

In the news…

• Celebrity's Bistro On Five to cost $10, increase of 42%
• Carnival's 'big' news conference set for June 4 in New York 

Today at portsandbows.com: Carnival Corp. may add 10th cruise line

Holland America Maasdam
7 nights
June 20, 2015
Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Sydney, Charlottetown, Quebec City, Montreal
Inside: $699
Cost per day: $99
www.hollandamerica.com

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