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martincath

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About martincath

  • Rank
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About Me

  • Location
    YVR & PDX
  • Interests
    Travel, eating, eating while traveling;-)
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Alaska

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  1. The race was canceled already, and with OPs line now extending their cruising moratorium for Alaska routes to July 1st there's no probably involved in either aspect.
  2. Since Scott hasn't been posting for a few days - and who can blame him under the current circumstances - my two cents: if you're mobile and a solo/couple, SkyTrain from YVR is worth the savings. 3 or 4 of you though and cab fare becomes only fractionally more expensive (fixed rate of CAD$32) - indeed, potentially cheaper if you arrive on a weekday before 6:30pm as the fare per person will be $9.25 for Adults, possibly a little more if the fares go up again July 1st. So unless you're shaving your budget to the bone the convenience of door-to-door service, a cab may be well worth the spend to skip the walk from the nearest station (Vancouver City Centre - about 500 metres straight along Granville Street to this hotel, so call it a half-mile total extra walking by the time you get to and from the platforms). Either way there's certainly no need to book anything, cabs operate on a walk-up basis and SkyTrain is public transit so no resos required, so you can leave it to arrival day and see how energetic you're feeling after your flight.
  3. That's an incorrect quote that keeps being mentioned, which literally seconds of Googling refutes. Original press release clearly stated 500 people on board, and the official documentation found here even has '500 persons' in the title - while the speil about the reasons for implementing it contain multiple mentions of the phrase 'passengers and crew.' Further, simple common sense dictates that since crew are not magically immune to anything and a limit that just mentioned passengers would obviously have a big variable in the number of crew to support those passengers depending how luxurious accommodations were onboard, ANY limit that refers to a number of people must logically include all souls on board. Given the amount of nonsense being posted around COVID, please don't continue to promulgate incorrect information even when speculating about future cruising...
  4. Yes, odds are very good - while Orcas are still the bread & butter 'whale' from Victoria and the main season is April-October, you may actually have slightly better chances to see other species too as some of the earlier-leaving Greys & Humpbacks that spend summers in Alaska may be passing on their way back south. I've only ever done Prince of Whales out of Victoria (on their zodiacs) and am happy with them - but I believe that there's an even better guarantee available with another company these days (everyone locally including PoW offer 'unlimited trips for life until you see a whale' and seasonal odds run 90-95% - but BC Whale Tours also offers a 20% refund on top of that guarantee). If you'll never return to the area then 'free trips for life' is meaningless - but aside from boat types I don't believe there's any real difference in % viewing with any Victoria company, as they all share info on whale locations so it's entirely down to whether your boat is fast enough to get to them and return in the tour's duration. This is why the zodiac style are better than the slower boats - all local companies have them these days, some also offer more traditional hulls for folks who can't handle the bouncing around (bad backs, pregnant etc.) - but other than vessel type, your odds of spotting a whale on any given ride are basically identical regardless of who you go with. Of course this assumes that your cruise actually happens... so I would not be inclined to book any excursion at this point, there are plenty of Victoria whale-watching firms so even walk-up availability is very likely. If/when cruises are confirmed to be happening again, you can worry about locking down a particular company/timeslot that fits around your port times.
  5. Yup - although USD is commonly accepted in Victoria (some stores in Inner Harbour area even have 2 cash drawers, so can give change in USD) it's way less hassle to get local currency when it's in bulk. Definitely use a proper Bank ATM though, not the 'for your convenience' private one that's usually installed right at the pier in cruiser season, as a) fees will generally be lower, b) exchange rate almost certainly better as actual Inter-bank rates will apply, c) you may have a reciprocal deal available between your bank and a Canadian one that means no ATM fees or a refund on them. All major Canadian banks have branches in downtown core Victoria, so if you have any agreements your guide will be able to take you to the right one if you don't have time to find it before the tour.
  6. What everyone else said, plus a query - how are you paying the guide? If it's a pre-negotiated US $ amount or by credit card, no worries - but if they expect payment in CAD $ cash you will want to hit an ATM, since I can't imagine a private guide running less than triple-digits of dollars. Since ATMS give the best exchange rate by far for cash, you should just add a bit extra if you want to minimise wasted cash on poorer exchange rates in stores.
  7. Haven't ridden the new LandSea so cannot compare fairly if there's a qualitative difference in the commentary, but the route on WestCoast is much more extensive, and the fleet larger too. Older buses and trolleys, a mix of format, whereas LandSea uses just one shiny new double-decker type of bus. Given that pricing and frequency seems to be consistently similar, the extra stops on WestCoast make it the more logical choice if you have a whole day - for folks with just a few hours though, i.e. not enough time to get off at a lot of places, LandSea still hits most of the 'big' downtown core sites and would not involve having to transfer vehicles (WestCoast has 2 loops, so you must transfer at least once to do both).
  8. Kirin (2 Vancouver branches, including downtown core so near almost all the hotels) or Dynasty (Broadway, so a cab/bus/SkyTrain ride or loooooong walk from core hotels)- there are also other high-end options out in Richmond, which are quite accessible from Vancouver by SkyTrain but probably not enough better to be worth a special trip. I don't think anyone does trolley service any more - which is fun, but once you've done it you realise the best food comes from ordering specific dishes as you want them rather than random things arriving that might have been getting pushed around for a long time if they are not popular, or are snapped up by the first few tables near the kitchen door if they are popular dishes! Floata in Chinatown looks the part more than just about anywhere else - it's the biggest Chinese resto in North America, the kind of place you can imagine Indiana Jones running through chased by gansters - but the food is bought in from other Chinatown suppliers so it's nothing special. OTOH the places that make it and supply Floata are grungy, holes in the wall and most dumplings do just fine when frozen and cooked, so it's probably the most sensible not-super-fancy dim sum spot.
  9. You're completely correct that Howe remains open, as does Granville Bridge, but according to the map of road closures and list of times the official detour is then "follow 6th Ave to Main Street to access airport" - as closures right across the city down at 49th near the start of the marathon course impact Granville and Oak until 10am. Given this is folks leaving a ship on a quiet day with 1 vessel, unless they hang around the pier well after they get booted off the ship this means no-go for the usual airport route - though as I noted above Cambie becomes available after 9am, which will help. Some cabbies will take Howe to Granville Bridge to 6th as that adds quite a bit of distance, in traffic, to the meter - whereas heading along Hastings or over the Georegia viaduct to Main would be faster & cheaper way to get to Main & 2nd where the detour then merges onto Main (for non-locals, the same street is named both 6th and 2nd Ave depending where along the length of it you are as it wiggles around a bit but without tracking the waterline of south False Creek consistently, meaning sometimes it has several other avenues between it and the water - so at that point it changes name to keep the number system flowing correctly north to south!) If you're biking with the runners on the Half you may be guiding my missus Dennis, and I'll try to wave at you both out the window as you loop past National twice!
  10. No 'luggage direct' service in Vancouver (or any other Canadian ports), thanks to US government running Preclearance in our airports. While it's legal to ship your bags as freight separately, so some private 'mail my bags home' services can operate, the cruise services which check your bags onto your flight for you would be illegal - anything that accompanies you on your flight must be brought to the bag drop by you personally. Luggage is photographed, the digital pic is linked to your boarding pass, so when you go through Customs if you have to make a verbal declaration or answer any follow-up questions you'll see a pic of your bag on a screen and agent will ask you to confirm it's yours (using the kiosks streamlines this process, most folks literally just hand over their declaration printout and walk on, but they do randomly sample some kiosk users for extra questions of course). The only folks allowed to place your bag other than you are the licensed and background-checked SkyCaps, and even they can only do it in front of you. This impacts services like the packaged 'HOHO, SkyTrain ticket, bag delivery' that cruiselines offer - as your bags get delivered to the airport, but NOT onto your flight - they are stored at YVR for you to collect before you do anything else. If you're looking to get rid of your bags while doing some touring around before a red-eye for example, then the cheap option is to store them with the Pan Pacific hotel bell desk (it's literally right above the pier, bell desk is on street level) for $5 each - go do whatever, return to the pier, then cab or SkyTrain to YVR. If you are touring around places that would make it inefficient to return to the pier to collect bags, then PorterGenie is the only game in town these days - they'll come meet you at the pier, take your bags away, then deliver them to anywhere you want later in the day at a specific time. Very pricey for the first bag, as the pickup & dropoff are fixed fees - but if you are a group with several bags those fixed costs can be cut significantly on a 'per bag' costing. Ballpark though would be $40 for the first bag delivered to YVR, then add $10 per bag as you're just paying the daily storage fee after that. Even for one person, using PG and buying your own HOHO and SkyTrain tickets will be cheaper than cruiselines charge - total ~CAD$90-120 depending which HOHO ticket, whereas I've seen the package sold for as much as US$129pp!
  11. I'm surprised that Googling didn't confirm this is a known scam/spam/robocall number - came up in the first handful of hits when I tried, e.g. here on 'rang twice' As mentioned above, texts or emails from an airline usually fall over themselves to identify who they are from and also identify which flight number they're in reference to. No harm checking your flights haven't changed again, but the text itself definitely seems to be a random phishing attempt you can safely ignore or add to your blocked number list.
  12. Since you can print a boarding pass 24 hours in advance on any airline I can think of, you could certainly try - but there's way less to do inside the E Gates than anywhere else in the airport. If for some reason you can't avoid being at the airport way too early for your flight, I'd stay outside the Secure area until the 2 or 3 hour mark - there are more options for sitting, eating, and killing time. YVR's blog actually ran an article about stuff to do there, to entice folks who aren't even flying to come hang out!
  13. I'd recommend moving your post - this board is for Canadian ports-of-call on the Pacific side of the country, and there are several regular posters on West Coast Departures who don't respond here because they're not Canadian. Any time you're talking about Pre-cruise time, posting on one of the Departures boards is the most relevant - and you will get more eyes on your request. FWIW, I'd stay either downtown core or in Seattle Center - if budget is a concern the latter will save money, but it's also a better location for visiting some popular sites (Space Needle, Chihuly, Science Center, MoPop museum, even the Zoo). The zoo is the thing we have repeated most often; next would be MoPop; and last the Seattle Art Museum (which is a pretty easy walk from most Seattle Center hotels).
  14. Yes, it's still enforced - primarily when flying to the US, and it's 3 hours preflight now from the reports I've seen. Domestically and International (non-US) the 4 hour limit was always simply down to storage space, varied by airline, just like many busy airports - but thanks to US Preclearance methods there's the additional issue that bags heading to the US are held separately just like people are 'fenced off' in the E gates area. The new (well, it's been a few years now...) system that CBP use take a photo of your bag and links it to your boarding pass, the holding area for checked bags is even less infinite than the domestic and other int'l areas, but your bag cannot be released for stowage on the plane until you have passed through Preclearance. I know that it's still 4 hours for int'l as my relatives are all very occasional travelers and insist on being at the airport waaaaaaay too early 'just in case' - we've always been able to check bags 4 hrs before for UK flights. A lot of folks have been saying that a 3 hour limit is being enforced at YVR for US flights though, even when the airline still says 4 hours (e.g. Air Canada).
  15. Thanks for clarifying. Terrible wording on my part - should have been more explicit that in reference to Status impacting disembarkation time I didn't mean for Self-Disembarking folks, but only if help was needed with bags being taken off. In my experience if you don't book air through the cruiseline (i.e. they know your flight timing) you seem to be randomly allocated a timeslot - if you then try to change it, preference might be given to higher Status folks if there's more demand than supply for the first 'collect my bags in the pier rather than carry them off myself' slot...
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