City of Five Sails Tops at Cruise Critic

Best North American homeport for cruise ships? Miami? New York? New Orleans? Fort Lauderdale? Galveston? Los Angeles? All wrong, so guess again.


That's the gospel according to the editors of Cruise Critic, lost there in the midst of a bunch of annual cruise awards, version 2013. For those of us who know the city (we used to live there), this is not shocking…in fact, anybody Vancouverwho has will surely have a soft spot upon hearing this news. For those of us who have cruised into Vancouver (and we've done that, too), it's an unforgettable experience.

In a different way, it ranks up there in the "awe" department with Venice, a very different city.

In the cruise industry, Vancouver is regarded as the gateway to Alaska, but it's much more than a stopping off point to give cruise ships that "other country visit" as decreed by the Jones Act. From the deck of a ship, the five sails that mark the Vancouver waterfront and cruise terminal is more unique and recognizable than any port in North America…and as much so as any port in the world.

Off the ship, Vancouver offers cruise passengers — whether embarking or on a five-hour stopover — a variety of experiences. There's funky Gastown just footsteps away, two major sports arenas not much further, majestic Stanley Park within walking distance, Whistler two hours north and waterfronts everywhere.

Business was up in Vancouver last year for cruise passengers, by 22 per cent, and the city is closing in on a million per year. One minor cautionary note: Getting from your ship with luggage can be challenging, especially if you're headed for a nearby hotel. It can be crowded and the exits can be tight for getting on the street…at least they were when we cruised into the "five sails."

Even winners of Cruise Critic's Editors Picks' Awards are allowed to have the odd blemish.

Carnival Ecstasy
4 nights
May 5, 2014
Miami (return): Key WestCozumel
Inside: $309
Cost per day: $77

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One Response
  1. Archie says:

    Totally agree. Have sailed out of and into Vancouver – inside passage to Alaska, and repositioning cruise through the Panama Canal. Views are terrific. Getting out can be slow if more than a couple of ships are in port, however, all was well organized – just go with the flow!

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