Ships that cruise round trip from Seattle to Alaska all make a brief evening stop in Victoria on the way back. Victoria sits on the south end of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. While it is a touristy town with lots to see and do, the cruise ships generally don’t come early enough or stay long enough to take advantage of all Victoria has to offer. Why bother to stop there at all since the stops are so brief?
Ships stop in Victoria because Canada is not the USA. Unless the ship is registered in the USA which they normally are not, it can’t do a completely domestic cruise in the USA. It has to stop in at least one foreign port. Ships that cruise to Alaska from Vancouver B.C. do not have this problem since Vancouver is in Canada. It is not however on Vancouver Island, but on the mainland nearby. There is also a city called Vancouver in Washington State, but it does not have a cruise ship port. There was once an early explorer named Captain Vancouver sailing around the area and all these places are named after him.
Ruby Princess arrived in Victoria around dinner time. Dinner on a cruise ship can be a lengthy affair and some people’s scheduled meal time would have meant choosing between dinner and the port. To counteract this they started dinner a bit early that day and made all dining rooms Anytime Dining for that evening. Which meant a lot of people lining up at the door before it opened. Our original plan had been to go to afternoon tea and skip the dinner, but the head waiter who did a wonderful job of looking after my gluten-free sisters did not seem to want us to do that. He said that night’s meal was too good to pass up and that he would let us in a bit early before the official earlier dinner time of the day. Things did not go quite as planned when the mob rushed the dining room as soon as they cracked a door open to let the special needs diners in before the scheduled opening time. They looked at us apologetically and said to run to the table. We did manage to get to our usual table before anyone else took it and had a fine meal with time to go explore the port.
We had booked an excursion, but before the cruise started we were notified that it had been canceled and did not book anything else in its place. I had seen the tally-ho horse carriages in the port area on a previous cruise and we thought it might be fun to take one into town, but it turned out they were all there to take passengers booked on an excursion. None were available just as transportation to town.
On my last visit taking a taxi cost less with several people than the shuttle, but this time the shuttle was fairly cheap and the ticket was good for round trip so we went with that. I’ve heard it’s not a bad walk, but we would have needed to skip dinner to have time to walk to town and have hopes that anything might still be open. That is one advantage of a booked excursion, some things that close earlier to the general public do allow them in.
The shuttle let us out not quite in the area with the Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings, which are something most tourists like to see. It was not too far to walk there from the shuttle stop. The late hour saved one of my sisters some money because she would have gotten something at her favorite chocolate shop when we walked past it if it had been open. A lot of the souvenir shops stayed open, but the little specialty shops were more likely to be closed.
We pretty much just wandered around town for a bit, and through the Empress and its rose garden.
The Empress has gone through some recent renovations and for a time I was wondering when they would get around to replacing the threadbare carpet running through the hallways until I realized what looked like a severely worn-out carpet was actually just a printed pattern. Sometimes you have to wonder what people were thinking when they choose their decor.
We had not seen another ship at any of our ports through this entire cruise up until Victoria. It was our last port and by then more ships had started to arrive for the season. Some stopped there. We had one of Holland America’s ships on one side of us, and the Norwegian Pearl on the other. I always like spotting the Pearl since it is the ship on the banner of my blog due to a random photo and the fact that I like its paint job.
Arriving in Victoria by Princess ship revived an old song from a commercial that tends to rattle around in my head when Victoria and princesses combine. Before the Victoria Clippers of today there was a ship called the Princess Marguerite that made daily sailings from Seattle to Victoria. Their commercial played frequently on TV with a song that went: Take a Princess to sea, take a princess to sea, have a crumpet and tea, have a crumpet and tea. She’s fun aboard – all the way, sail away for the day, hey,hey, hey – let’s go to Victoria on the Princess Marguerite. I don’t think they had anything to do with Princess cruise line, but it’s still a ship called princess going to Victoria. I never sailed on that one or the Victoria Clipper for that matter. The only ship I’ve sailed on that served crumpets was a British ship, the P&O Arcadia, where you could get crumpets at afternoon tea in the dining room. P&O is tied into Princess closely enough that if you sail on P&O the cruise counts toward your loyalty points on Princess.
I didn’t have anything much to say about Victoria from this particular trip since we didn’t do much, but there’s more about that charming city in these other blogs from Victoria: