Visitor Guide: Cruise Ship Terminal of Vancouver BC

The Cruise Ship Terminal of Vancouver is a bustling port in the summertime, especially for Alaskan Cruises. It is located right downtown at Canada Place.

Port of Vancouver

Cruises from and To Vancouver

Cruise ship season in the port of Vancouver starting from Mid April to the end of September. Almost every major Cruise line has cruises from or to Vancouver. The main cruise itineraries departing and/or arriving in Vancouver are:

  • Beginning of Alaska Season (end of April) repositioning from LA to Vancouver
    • Inside passage 7 nights return
    • Northbound 7 nights from Vancouver to Anchorage (Seward or Wittier)
    • Southbound 7 nights from Anchorage arriving at Vancouver
    • Luxury Cruises 7 to 15 Nights either return or roundtrip
  • Hawaii Cruises 15 nights roundtrip
  • End of Alaska Season (End of September) repositioning from Vancouver to LA

Tip: Occasionally you can take a one night cruise from Vancouver to Seattle or vice versa, for an incredible price!

Most Common Cruise Lines

At the peak of Alaska season, almost every cruise line has one or more cruises from Vancouver. The most common cruise lines that sail out of Vancouver are:

  • Princess Cruises
  • Holland America
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • NCL
  • Disney
  • Oceania

The Norwegian Jewel in the Cruise Ship Terminal of Vancouver

How to get to the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal

If you are starting from the Airport, the cruise ship terminal is easily reached by Skytrain (Canada Line). As an example, runs every 5-10 minutes and can have you at the waterfront station in under 30 minutes.  Conversely, you can take a taxi from the Airport at a cost of about CAD $35.00.  Furthermore, it takes about 30-60 minutes to get to the terminal in rush-hour.

All 3 Skytrain lines end at the waterfront station where the Cruise Ship terminal is located, making it extremely convenient to reach.  For example, North Vancouver is conveniently reached by sea bus in about 15 minutes.  In addition, the port is also conveniently located 2 blocks away from the seaplane airport. This is a great way to reach Victoria, Nanaimo and other towns on Vancouver Island.

Avoid driving to the cruise port, as parking is really expensive.  Instead, consider there are car rentals around the port, mostly located in the hotels nearby.

Embarkation Procedure in the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal

The port can be incredibly busy in the summertime with 2-3 ships per day and the embarkation process can take up to 2 hours. Once you enter the port, you will see the area where you can drop your bags off. After that, you will be directed to the first floor where you will be able to check in with the cruise line and get your cruise card.

You will be assigned a number and you will sit in a waiting room till your number is called.  When your number is called you will be directed downstairs where you will pass security and US Immigration and Custom. This procedure is to avoid long lines at security and Immigration. Once you passed immigration you are clear to board your ship. Bottom line, arrive early, especially when more than one ship is in Port. You can check the cruise ship schedule from the Port Authority Website at this link.

Sail Away Party

Sailing away from Vancouver it is quite spectacular, especially on a sunny afternoon. You will have a beautiful view of downtown on the south side and the North Shore mountains on the north. You will then pass under the Lions Gate bridge, with only a few meters of clearance.

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Disembarkation Procedure

Disembarking in Vancouver is incredibly easy. For example, you will have to fill up your Custom Declaration Form on board and present it at the Officer in port.  Most of the time it takes 5 minutes from the time you (sadly) swipe your cruise card for the last time to the time you are outside the port.  Additionally, Taxi lines can be quite long at the port.  A secret to avoid long wait times for a cab is to walk outside the port to one of the 3 hotels outside and ask the bellman to call you a taxi…. don’t tell anybody!

Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal as Viewed from North Vancouver

Hotels in the Port of Vancouver Area

There are several high-end hotels within 5 minutes walking radius of the hotel. In fact, the Pan Pacific Hotel is right in the terminal. Across the street, you’ll find the Fairmont Waterfront.  One block west you’ll find the Fairmont Pacific Rim.  Lastly, 4 blocks south you’ll reach the Four Seasons.  Downtown hotels are all pretty expensive, ranging from CAD $200.00 and up at the peak of the cruise season.  By contrast, if you’re on a budget, consider a hotel at Metrotown in Burnaby and take the Skytrain (Expo Line) to the waterfront station. The Skytrain ride takes less than 30 minutes and costs less than CAD $5.00.

If you book a hotel downtown the best way to reach the terminal is by taxi.  It takes 5-10 minutes to arrive and it costs CAD $10-15.00.

WiFi in the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal

In Vancouver, there are two main free WiFi networks available around the city, including the port. Namely, the two most common networks are Shaw Open and Telus. You might need to register with them to be able to use the WiFi. Alternatively, you can use the WiFi at Starbucks right in front of the port entrance.

Activities in the Area

The cruise ship terminal location, right in downtown Vancouver, makes it incredibly convenient to explore all the major attractions in Vancouver.  As an example, Gastown, Pacific Centre Mall, Robson Street, Chinatown, and the seawall are about 5-20 minutes walking from the exit. (Here is a list of the main attractions in Vancouver). It’s perfect for shopping, as all the major shopping areas are less than a 10 minutes walk away from the port. The area is also perfect to find a great spot to eat, from high-end restaurants to food trucks are all within walking distance.

Pro Tips for Navigating the Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal

Always fly the day before your cruise, this is not only for Vancouver Cruise Ship Terminal, but it is good advice for any cruise port.  Additionally, check the port website for your embarkation day and see how many ships are in port.  If your ship is the only one, allow at least one hour for embarkation. If there is more than one ship allow at least 2.5-3 hours for embarkation.  Of course, it’s always best to arrive at the port as early as you can to avoid stress.

Be prepared to walk a little for embarkation.  Then, when your cruise arrives in Vancouver, you can have your Custom Declaration Form and Passport handy. If you are flying our of Vancouver, there is no need to book the expansive cruise line transfer to the airport.  Simply walk outside the port and take the Skytrain in less than 30 minutes, you will be at the airport for about CAD $5.00.

-Happy Cruising

P.S.> If you’re familiar with a cruise port and wish to write about it, please contact us here.