Hi, We're sailing on Celebrity Infinity from SF next month with stops in Vancouver & Victoria--one at the beginning and one at the end.
I'm looking at the shore excursions for these places and it seems like we could do most of these tours independently of the ship's tours. We want to see Butchart Gardens but not for 4 hours (my husband would be crazy after 2 hours). And I'm not even sure what we want to do in Vancouver, maybe ride bikes?
Victoria...We just did Buchart Gardens in May. I thought the same with my DH but he was so amazed at the beauty and the gardens are so huge it's hard to see it all in the tour time. Part of our tour included the Butterfly exhibit which was very nice too. I think we our tour was 4 hours too but we felt rushed and some of the time is for travel. Others on our cruise went whale watching or had tea at the Empress Hotel. It's a beautful place whatever you choose.
We debarked in Vancouver and stayed 2 days. We bought a 2 day pass at our hotel for the Double Decker and went around the whole city. You can get off and on as you please. We got off in Stanley Park, went to the Aquarium, got back on, got of at the Pointe for pictures, got back on, off at Granville Island for a nice walk in an artsy kinda place, lots of shops, got back on and it dropped us off back at our hotel. We had so much fun. We look forward to seeing the city again in 18 day!!
Teresa and Larry
#36-Carnival Splendor 9/16/12
7 night Mexican Riviera
#37-Allure of the Seas 11/11/12
7 night Eastern Caribbean
In Vancouver: Definitely Stanley Park! You can rent bikes or take the trolley and tour around. Lots to see and do there (maps/bikes are avail. at the entrance). If you’re short on time, downtown Vancouver is right there (where you happen to be docking as well), and you can take the sky train to see more of Vancouver, or go shopping!!
In Victoria: If you would like to go whale watching, be sure to get on a zodiac—an absolute blast. There is also an amazing park in Victoria, just off the downtown area (again close to where you'll be docking). If you are into scuba diving, I’ve been told that the sights are really spectacular—and this from people who’ve been diving all over the globe. You could also do High Tea at the prestigious Fairmont, which is also right downtown and a sight all in itself… You can then grab a horse carriage right there or have one of the ‘bikes’ take you to your next destination. Victoria is beautiful, and on my first trip there I was content to just sit there and take it all in.
Both cities also have all the tourist-y museums, galleries, science centers and such, which I’m sure you can find online.
When in Victoria, a visit to the Empress Hotel for tea is recommended if you like to re-create the English atmosphere. Victoria is known to be more English than England. The Provincial Museum has a great showcase of First Nations, nature and history displays. There is even a bug zoo right downtown if you are traveling with kids, this is a must! You can go into the parliament buildings or walk through Chinatown. There is alot of shopping here too.
For something unique, take in a cemetery walk hosted by the old cemetery society www.oldcem.bc.ca to learn about early and later residents of the city such as Emily Carr, Robert Dunsmuir, early architects, Hudson Bay Company staff, etc. Or if you are staying overnight, take guided ghost walk downtown. John Adams, a local historian, published author, is a great storyteller!
There are several whale watching companies www.5starwhales.com that will take you out for a 3 hour tour (I have trained several of their staff) and nature companies who will share nature with you.