Located on Vancouver Island in southwest Canada, Victoria is another popular cruise ship port of call on many Alaska itineraries. It is a beautiful town with a number of things to see and do and is only a short ferry ride or plane trip away from the city of Vancouver.
Where You Dock
Most cruise ships now dock at the cities port facilities within walking distance of downtown. The ferry terminals serving Vancouver and other areas are located almost an hour out of town.
Taxis are readily available and local bus service is provided by the Victoria Regional Transit System. A fleet of modern single and double-decker buses that offer frequent service to Victoria BC’s attractions. . Typical fares for the buses include:
Cash Fare C$2.50 Single boarding only – No Transfers. Drivers do not carry change.
10 Tickets C$22.50
DayPass C$5.00 and are only available on bus. Drivers do not carry change.
There are also water taxis and float planes available on the cities waterfront.
The local currency is the Canadian Dollar and unlike the cities in the east of Canada US Dollars are not generally accepted. If they do take the US Dollar expect them to charge an additional amount.
The Butchart Gardens – Located in Brentwood Bay, near Victoria. The gardens receive over a million visitors each year. The gardens have been designated a National Historic Site of Canada.
Chinatown – It is the oldest Chinatown in Canada and the second oldest in North America after San Francisco’s. Victoria’s Chinatown had its beginnings in the mid-nineteenth century in the mass influx of miners from California to what is now British Columbia in 1858. It remains an active place and continues to be popular with residents and visitors.
BC Museum – Founded in 1886, the Royal British Columbia Museum consists of The Province of British Columbia’s natural and human history museum as well as the British Columbia Provincial Archives.
The Victoria Bug Zoo – This unique facility is a two-room minizoo that is located in downtown Victoria, just one block north of the Fairmont Empress Hotel.
Victoria is also home to several architectural landmarks and parks of note and offers a number of great pubs and cafes.
Vancouver Island is now home to a very good and growing number of vineyards with one day wine country tours available.
Learn how we disembarked in Victoria and took the ferry over to Vancouver to beat the Jones Act HERE.
Auckland is a popular port for cruises around Australia and New Zealand as well as southbound Pacific repositioning cruises. Most itineraries also include a stop at The Bay of Islands due north from Auckland.
Where You Dock
The Port of Auckland has a number of piers east from the ferry terminal at Princess Wharf. All of the docking spaces are right in downtown Auckland so it is only a short walk from the dock into the CBD. There are also a number of public facilities not far from the port.
With only a few hours on average for exploring while in this port there are a number of places within walking distance and the downtown area is very pedestrian friendly with lots to see. Taxis are readily available but Auckland is the center of a large metropolitan area so it is best to have a destination in mind and agree on a fare before heading out. There is also an extensive bus and ferry system around the area with a good web site that shows your options HERE . The city also has a visitors one and two day pass that includes admission to a number of attractions HERE.
The New Zealand currency is the NZ$ currently worth about 65¢ US. Foreign currency is not readily accepted but credit cards usually work fine.
Within walking distance are a number of good sights including:
Albert Park – Historical, park with trees andflowerbeds, a Victorian fountain & statues.
Auckland Art Gallery – A collection of national & international art, with Maori works, in a château-style historic building.
New Zealand Maritime Museum – exploring the country’s seafaring history through exhibits & sailing trips on replica ships.
The Skywalk Visitors Center
Auckland Bridge Climb (Bungee jumping available)
Also about twenty miles west of Auckland is a very nice wilderness area called Waitākere Ranges Regional Park that if you have a few days this area should be considered.
The Port of Bay of Islands
Located about 175 miles north of Auckland is the Bay of Islands. The area is somewhat rural and one of the big attractions is the various vineyards nearby. While the production is on a much smaller scale than the southern island the quality is very good. A local industry has developed offering tours to the cruise passengers and probably the best way to see some of the region is booking one of these tours. Many of these excursions are focused on the waters around this port.
Skagwayis a very popular port of call for Alaska cruises. With a population that fluctuates between 700 and 2,000 from winter to summer it is easy to see what the economy is based on. While Skagway is small and isolated that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. Historically Skagway has its beginnings in the Yukon gold rush established as the port of entry for the Chilkoot trail leading up to the gold fields. Today it is a tourist destination with a lot of options for just spending a day off a cruise ship to even longer wilderness adventures.
Where You Dock
There are a set of modern docks right near town with specific docks designated for different cruise lines. While there are no facilities right on the docks it is a short walk right to the foot of State Street that runs up thru town.
Taxis are available but the town itself can be walked in a short period. There are locations to visit on the outskirts of town like the gold mine where a taxi would be your best option. There are also Pedi cabs and a number of tour operators that offer short ecursions.
Alaska is a U.S. state and the U.S. Dollar is the preferred currency with most major credit cards accepted.
If you are looking for a scenic ride The White Pass and Yukon Railroad offers excursion trains up thru the mountains and back. The station is right in town. There is also a gold mining attraction near town and whale watching tours normally available. One of our favorites was the helicopter tour up to a glacier.
State Street also has the usual lineup of tourist retail stores with an emphasis on jewelry. Look for local crafters and gift items.
If you are looking to book a tour our suggestion is to book on your own instead of thru the ship. You will have a whole day in Skagway with plenty of time to set something up. We called the helicopter tour service the day before we docked in Skagway and save almost fifty percent on the booking.
The National Park Service also has a Skagway facility with good information and exhibits about the Yukon gold rush.
Tip: Most U.S. and Canadian cell services do not have any surcharge for using you phones in Alaska. Just make sure you have a land based signal and are not on Cellular At Sea.
A favorite port for three and four day cruises out of Florida and returning longer cruises, Nassau has a lot to offer.
Where You’re Docked
Cruise ships dock at Prince George Wharf, sometimes as many as five are there at once. The wharf is located right in downtown Nassau with a large number of good restaurants and plenty of “duty free” shopping. The island is also famous for it numerous great beaches as well as coral reefs, sport fishing and boating.
Crossing a bridge in downtown Nassau gets you to Paradise Island, home of the resort Atlantis and others resorts. It is a two mile walk over the Paradise Island you can walk across the bridge.
If you just want to walk around and see the town it is only a short stroll to downtown. You can rent cars and scooters right at the wharf as well as book land and water tours. Taxis are readily available but you should negotiate price before heading out.
The countries currency is the Bahamas Dollar which is on par with the U.S. Dollar. U.S. Dollars are readily accepted.
Three miles east along the north shore out of Nassau is the exclusive Cable Beach area, a resort beach with great beaches and a number of good restaurants and hotels. Again near town there is also Paradise Island and the Atlantis resort (often cruise ships offer day tours over to Atlantis).
Atlantis on Paradise Island A destination all on its own. FeaturesWater park, aquariums, beaches. Requires admission (day pass) unless you are a resort guest.
Fort Fincastle 1793 stone fort & former lighthouse
Ardastra Gardens Zoo, gardens & conservation center
Prince George Wharf Cruise-ship dock with tour vendors
Clifton Heritage Park . Nature trails, historic ruins & beaches
Dolphin Cay Atlantis &
Bahamas Dolphins Adventure . Marine habitat with dolphin interaction
Marine Habitat at Atlantis . Large aquarium at an upscale resort
Fort Charlotte . 1788 stone fort with moats & dungeons
Queen’s Staircase . Stone staircase, circa 1793
Pirates of Nassau . Pirate museum with replica ship
National Art Museum . Local history & art in a historic villa
Many western Caribbean cruises include Key West, Florida as one of their port visits. This city has much to offer a one-day visitor from history to shopping to just soaking up the atmosphere of Americas most southern place.
Where You Dock – Cruise ships dock along the waterfront right at Mallory Square in the heart of town. While there is no cruise terminal there are plenty of facilities with a short walk.
A five block walk to the left down Front Street takes you past Duval Street, home to a number of shops, bars and restaurants to A&B Docks with its array of restaurants and shops next to Key West Bight. Walking down Front Street in the opposite direction takes you past the Truman Winter White House and Whitehead Street the address of the Audubon House and the Hemingway House.
Transportation – Key West is not a very large city with the center of town just steps away. Getting to the other side of the island is a few miles but without a specific interest in mind probably not worth the walk. Sightseeing is easy with the Conch Train and the Trolley one to three block from the ship. There are also a few less conventional modes of transportation available like street legal golf carts and miniature two-seaters you can rent.
Money – The US Dollar
Attractions – If you are interested in history there are a number of attractions for you. From the Ship Wreck Museums to the homes of famous Americans like President Truman, Hemingway and Audubon. There are also an assortment of water activities like snorkeling and diving trips along with sailing excursions available. Key West is also popular for shopping, seafood and bars. Be sure and visit Sloppy Joe’s Bar, Ernest Hemingway’s favorite. There is little in the way of attractive beaches nearby but there are excursions down to the Dry Tortugas and the National Park and historic fort.
Key West is also famous for its sunset celebration at Mallory Square but unfortunately because of local regulations cruise ships must depart before sunset so as not to block the views.
General Information – Ho Chi Minh City, as it is officially called, is a sprawling city located on the delta of the Dong Nai River but even locals still call it by its original name, Saigon. With the rapid industrialization recently of Vietnam a number of port facilities have been built along the channels of the Dong Nai River and usually they are referred to by the name the name of the nearest town Phu My. Currently there are a number of locations where cruise ships can dock. These are all working industrial ports where cruise terminals are generally not available but Vietnam is planning expansion to meet this demand.
The SPCT Port is one of the locations where cruise ships have docked and is about fifteen to twenty miles from Saigon. More recently ships are using the SP-PSA Saigon International Terminal which, by road, is over thirty miles from Saigon.
In either case there is virtually little within five miles of the dock area to accommodate visitors and getting into Saigon will require either a tour or a taxi. Most cruise ships offer tours into Saigon as well as down to the Mekong River and more.
Transportation – Most cruise passengers take advantage of buses arranged by their ships. Usually taxis are available and a one-way trip into Ho Chi Minh will cost about 700,000 Dong or about US$30 (be sure and confirm the price before starting out). Additionally Uber is becoming popular in Vietnam so if you are inclined refer to your app. We have heard that Uber drivers are somewhat scarce near the port though but common in town.
Currency – Currently the US Dollar is worth about 23,000 Vietnamese Dong but the good news is the Vietnamese gladly accept American Dollars.
Attractions – The primary destination is Saigon where you will find the Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the War Remnants Museum, Independence Palace and many cultural centers. Saigon is a shopper’s paradise with bargains at every turn. The city has a number of major markets with An Đông Market being the most popular for general merchandise. There is also Đồng Khởi Street and surrounds for upscale shopping and restaurants.
Often novice cruisers never give much thought to the details of ports they will be visiting. Even experienced cruisers are often so involved with the overall planning of a trip they overlook those important port details.
On our next cruise are there any tender ports? Are there ports that don’t allow walking out? Are there facilities on the pier? Is a port wheelchair accessible? Often cruise ships are not that free with information on upcoming ports of call and it would be helpful if you knew ahead of time if there are going to be challenges.
We’ve begun going thru our trip notes to build a section devoted just to port information and highlights. We hope you find it useful.
Also, If you would like to contribute please email us at TheIntentionalTraveler@gmx.com