Our cruise tour was departing Vancouver, a city we reallly love - but we had heard and read such accolades about Victoria.....what were the logistics of getting there - especially after a long day of travel from NY?? My research encouraged me to plan four nights there pre-cruise.
We arrived in Vancouver at 10:30AM - went through immigration and customs, collected our luggage and as soon as we exited there was a Pacific Coach Desk with a big red sign for Victoria. A representative directed us to the bus depot area so that we could purchase our tickets for an 11:40AM departure.....Perfect !!
Pacific Coach has large buses that leave from the airport, cruise port and also picks up from hotels in downtown Vancouver. The $43 per person fee from the airport to downtown Victoria includes transport for two pieces of luggage. Your luggage is checked and once on board it is a 20 mile or so ride to Tswassar, the ferry port.
Lots of trucks, buses, cars and many walk-ons are boarding the six deck ferry. The bus with passengers aboard drives on to the ferry - you can leave personal belongings on your seat since the bus is locked during the voyage. During the cruise you spend your time on Decks 5 and 6 - It is a lovely, large ferry.
There is indoor seating - theatre style to watch large screen TV, work stations with power for computers, a buffet, restaurant, vending machines with sodas and pre-made salads and sandwiches, and a cafeteria style restaurant serving sandwiches, grilled foods and simple meals. The gift shop sells jewelry, clothing, books and small gifts. A game room appeals to teens or dads with younger kids. Want a quiet trip - a private lounge charges $10 per person - sort of comparable to an airline lounge - seating areas with sofas and tables, coffee, tea, juices and light snacks are included.
The outdoor aft deck is popular - great for viewing and picture taking with seating provided at tables and on benches. On select cruises during the summer, a naturalist is on board to give a 40 minute presentation. We found it interesting.
The ferry arrives in Swartz Bay about 20 miles north of downtown Victoria. You reboard the bus - It makes a few stops along the way to drop off passengers and one half hour later the trip ends at the Inner Harbor bus station behind the Fairmont Empress Hotel. An easy pleasant trip.
Once daily there is a direct bus to Canada Place in Vancouver for cruise ship passengers. With a reservation, Pacific Coach Lines will pick you up at a designated Vancouver hotel. The cost is $43 per person each way from the airport or cruise pier or $37 from downtown hotels. This is their website for additional info.
Best of all - your luggage, once on the bus, is delivered directly to your stateroom and the drivers and pleasant and helpful