21 Slices
Medium 9781588438188

Options in Port

Norton, Clark Hunter Publishing ePub

You have three major options for spending your time in port: taking a cruise ship organized shore excursion, taking an independent organized shore excursion or going off to explore completely on your own. (Of course, if the port doesn't interest you, you can always stay on the ship if you choose - and some passengers do take advantage of that opportunity to schedule leisurely spa appointments or simply relax on deck.) We'll take a look at the pluses and minuses of each option. Keep in mind that whichever option you choose for one port, you can always choose a different option for the next port; for instance, you might choose a cruise line organized flightseeing trip in Ketchikan, book an independent whale-watching tour in Juneau and then explore Skagway by yourself. Finally, you may well have time to take a shore excursion (or even two) and still have time to explore the port on your own a bit, if your excursion isn't of the all-day variety. 

Shore excursions purchased through your cruise line can be enormously convenient. You sign up a few days (or weeks, if you go online before your cruise) in advance, you pay through your shipboard account, you board your transportation soon after leaving the ship, and you are guided or escorted to - and usually during - your destination or activity. 

See All Chapters
Medium 9781588438188

British Columbia (Canada) Ports

Norton, Clark Hunter Publishing ePub

 

Parliament Buildings

 

Also in the Inner Harbor area is the Royal British Columbia Museum, whose permanent galleries showcase the province's human and natural history, from native cultures to modern times and regional wildlife. Inside the museum is an IMAX theater, and you can buy combination tickets to both, or just to one or the other. To get your money's worth, plan to spend at least two hours in the museum alone. 675 Belleville St., tel. 250-356-7226; open daily 9 am to 5 pm; $$$$. IMAX open daily 10 am to 8 pm, $$$. 

 

Thunderbird Park , near the museum, is the place to see totem poles in Victoria. You'll also find a number of other beautiful parks wandering around the area. 

 

Touristic attractions include the Undersea Gardens (off Belleville St., tel. 250-382-5717; open daily year-round 10 am to 5 pm and 9 am to 8 pm July-September; $$), where you can view local marine life such as salmon, anemones, octopi and eels, and watch as the marine life are fed by divers. It's located in a floating vessel moored in the Inner Harbor across from the Parliament Buildings. Miniature World (649 Humboldt St., tel. 250-385-9731; open May to early September daily 9 am to 9 pm, hours vary rest of the year; $$$) presents different "worlds" - such as the circus, the frontier, the Canadian railway and doll houses - in miniature. And the Royal London Wax Museum (470 Belleville St., tel. 250-388-4461; open daily 9 am to 9 pm, $$$) depicts everyone from Queen Elizabeth to Gordie Howe in wax. 

See All Chapters
Medium 9781588438188

Less-Visited Inside Passage Ports

Norton, Clark Hunter Publishing ePub
Medium 9781588438188

Alaskan Wildlife

Norton, Clark Hunter Publishing ePub

One of the most exciting features of an Alaska cruise is the chance to view wildlife from the deck of your ship - or, if you take an expedition-style cruise or an adventurous shore excursion, from your own kayak or skiff. You might also spot a variety of animals on a land tour before or after your cruise. You'll be aided considerably in this if you carry a good pair of binoculars. Binoculars allow you not only to magnify your vision, but to keep a safe distance, which is good both for you and the animals. 

On water, whales top most passengers' wish lists. And it's a rare cruise that doesn't come across a sizeable number of them. Humpbacks are the most common, but you might also spot migrating gray whales in late spring and white Beluga whales if you venture into the more northerly waters lining the Kenai Peninsula and Anchorage. Alaska is the primary feeding ground for humpbacks, which can weigh 30 to 40 tons, grow to 40 feet in length, and migrate to Hawaii or Mexico in the colder months. They often travel in groups of six or eight, which makes it easier to see them, and they're quite acrobatic and playful, making them the whale-watchers' favorite. The best way to spot whales is to watch for their spouts, which resemble little puffs of smoke or mist rising from the sea as they surface. Keep your eyes or binoculars trained on that same general area, because they'll likely surface again near there within a few minutes. Seeing a whale breach - surging to the surface and then diving back headlong into the water, with their tails flipping high in the air before going under again - is one of the great thrills of any Alaskan cruise. Watching for spouts is also a good way to spot porpoises, also high on most passenger checklists. The most common varieties in Alaska are harbor porpoises and super-speedy Dall's porpoises. 

See All Chapters
Medium 9781588438188

Bus Tours

Norton, Clark Hunter Publishing ePub

See All Slices