Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Canada Line - Cheapest transfer from Vancouver airport for a cruise from Canada Place

Canada Place, viewed from Zuiderdam balcony!

     The 2011 Alaska cruising season is now well underway, and Vancouver's Canada Place is one of the main ports from which Alaskan Inside Passage cruises depart. We were there recently for the July 16th sailing on Holland America Line's Zuiderdam, and tried out a couple of options for getting from the Vancouver airport to the port: the traditional taxicab, and the Canada Line light railway, built just before the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

     For those with manageable luggage, the Canada Line is an inexpensive and relatively quick option to get from the Vancouver airport to the Canada Place port.  One ticket purchased at the airport station costs $8.75 per adult and the train runs frequently (every 8-12 minutes during the day), directly to the Waterfront station in approximately 25 minutes. There is no need to change trains, although it does stop along the way. If you arrive after 6:30pm or on a weekend or holiday, it is a little cheaper at $7.50. Note that the cost of the ticket  includes a $5.00 add-on fare that is charged for every ticket purchased at the airport - if you take the Canada Line from the Waterfront station back to the airport following your cruise, the cost is only $3.75 (or $2.50 after 6:30pm and weekends). This makes a round-trip fare for one adult between $10-$12.50, which pretty much beats all other options.

Canada Line Vancouver Airport Station

     The Canada Line station at the Vancouver airport is accessible right from the departures level (between the domestic and international terminals), and hauling luggage is easy with elevator and escalator access. Your ticket is purchased from a vending machine, and there is no need to validate it - you just get on the train with ticket in hand. There is no gate or guard at the entrance to the train - this is an honor system, but if you are caught riding without a valid ticket, you will be fined $173.

Waterfront Station - Cordova Exit : Turn right at the exit, walk 1 1/2 blocks, turn right on Howe, then one more block to Canada Place

     The train itself is clean, with wide seats, but I didn't notice any luggage storage areas - I had to block the seat next to me to keep my carry-on sized roller bag out of the aisle. Luckily, there weren't too many people riding the train when I was there on a weekday evening, but I imagine that rush hour could get crowded and problematic for transporting suitcases. In any case, the Waterfront station, where you get out, is a 2.5 block walk from Canada Place, so this method of transportation is only recommended for people with not too much luggage to carry.

     For comparison's sake, my husband took a taxi from the airport to Canada Place. He took a Delta Surrey Green Cab, which was waiting curbside at the airport, all the way to the port. There was quite a bit of traffic and lots of construction downtown, so the ride took about one hour (as compared to the 25 minutes by Canada Line), and cost $50. However, the trunk was plenty wide enough for all the suitcases two people could carry, and the driver helped to unload them too. If you have not planned your transfers through your cruise company and you have more than a medium-sized suitcase per person, this might be the better way to get to Canada Place. If you travel light, though, I recommend the Canada Line. It is quick and easy to use and maneuver, and costs a whole lot less!

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