Holland America Pacific Coast Cruise

| Friday, 15 Feb. 2013

The Amsterdam is one of Holland America's Vista-class ships

A special cruise from San Diego to Vancouver, with stops in Catalina, Victoria, Britith Columbia and Vancouver will sail May 16. For people on the east coat, those who have never been to Canada's British Columbia, or people who want to try a cruise for the first time should take advantage of this unusual and convenient West Coast itinerary starting in San Diego.

But first, be sure to take some time in San Diego where the near-perfect weather, beautiful beaches and multitude of outdoor events make it a popular destination for tourists. Its world renowned museums nurture your cultural side and theme parks bring out the kid in you.

San Diego vacations often begin at a bayside hotel close to the Port of San Diego's B Street Cruise Ship Terminal. Several offer spectacular views including the Holiday Inn on the Bay, the Manchester Grand Hyatt, the Marriott Marquis & Marina or the Hilton San Diego Bayfront. You could also check the San Diego Tourism Authority's website, www.sandiego.org, for more hotel choices and tips on what to do in San Diego.

The Port's cruise ship terminal is conveniently close to San Diego International Airport, downtown San Diego's historical Gaslamp District and shopping. Holland America Line, one of the Port of San Diego's seasonally homeported cruise lines, is offering a Pacific Coast voyage on the Holland America Amsterdam that begins in San Diego on Thursday, May 16 and ends in the exciting metropolis of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Check in for the Amsterdam begins at 9 a.m. and boarding begins at 11:30 a.m. The ship will depart at 11 p.m. It arrives the next morning in Avalon on Catalina Island. Catalina Island is part of Los Angeles County, and is located about 22 miles southwest of the city of Los Angeles. While in Avalon, visit the historic Casino building, which is a working theater, concert hall and ballroom.

The next two days will be spent at sea. Use this time to explore the Amsterdam and to enjoy its many amenities. Book a massage at the Greenhouse Spa and Salon, participate in a program at the Culinary Arts Center, which is sponsored by Food & Wine Magazine, work out in the gym, or just lounge by the pool.

The Holland America Line also presents digital workshops on all 15 ships in its fleet. Led by Microsoft-trained "Techsperts," they introduce guests with varying levels of computer and camera experience to photo editing, movie and slideshow creation and other computer skills. The digital workshops are offered at various times and days throughout each cruise and multiple workshops are held every day. Guests who would like more in-depth assistance can schedule one-on-one coaching, which is available for more than 20 hours each week.

At 2 p.m. on May 20, the ship pulls into Victoria, British Columbia, where it will dock until 11:59 p.m. Stroll through the charming city of Victoria, and you can walk from the pier to Beacon Hill Park. Be sure to see the most famous botanical display in North America, the Butchart and Butterfly Gardens, or take the Victoria Ale and Brewery tour, where you'll visit three pubs and sample domestic beers.

The final cruise day will find you in Vancouver, British Columbia. Vancouver has a bustling urban center that is surrounded by natural beauty. Interesting sights include its Chinatown, which is the second largest in North America, historic Gastown, which was founded in 1867 and the Northwest Exploration Suspension Bridge. Stanley Park, which is one of Vancouver's largest and most popular attractions, is a five minute drive from the terminal, as is the Vancouver Aquarium.

Many of these excursions come with transportation back to the ship, or hotel and airport vouchers. Additionally, Holland America offers a convenient flight program that allows you to enjoy more options with your cruise vacation and provides competitive costs on airfare. To find out more, go to HollandAmerica.com

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