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martincath

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About martincath

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About Me

  • Location
    YVR & PDX
  • Interests
    Travel, eating, eating while traveling;-)
  • Favorite Cruise Line(s)
    NCL
  • Favorite Cruise Destination Or Port of Call
    Alaska

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  1. That tracks - but it could also be driving an RV to Alaska, flying etc. to Vancouver to board a northbound cruise, then picking up the same RV in Anchorage... and whether the RV is owned or being rented would also be a factor in the options of course (one way rentals are really popular, I've been tempted to do some RV relocation drives as a dirt-cheap vacation but the timing has just never worked around when the missus can get off work). I think OP needs to give more detailed info if they want their research done for them!
  2. Cobbles are a right b*gger with some wheely suitcases - especially the 4-way spinners with small rollerskate wheels - and depending where you're walking from there may be some or many cobbles! If you're there pre-cruise, just take a walk down from your accommodation without bags and pay attention to the streets you're using - and there are some slopes around not much over a half-mile from the pier which are steep enough to cause thoroughly-entertaining multiple vehicle low-velocity crashes when it's icy (video here - when salt trucks are sliding around you know it's a bad street!) so I'd check the Google walking route from each potential place to see how flat the route is before booking (tail end of cruise season could see below-freezing temps overnight - we actually had some below freezing temps here in Vancouver last week, and Montreal gets a lot colder than here...)
  3. There's a lot of very good Canadian whiskey - personally I'm more into Rye than Corn whiskeys though. Since tastings are few and far between in liquor stores, tastes are subjective, and a bottle of liquor is relatively pricey here (high Sin Taxes!) I'd suggest hitting a good whiskey bar to sample a few and chat to bartenders so DH can find one he definitely likes before buying a bottle. Shebeen in Gastown probably still has the widest range (it's hidden in the back of the Irish Heather).
  4. I'm assuming you mean in Vancouver... but since e.g. the Gaslamp district of San Diego is also frequently misnamed there's a lot of scope for error in that assumption, so do please clarify which city! I'm also assuming that when you say family/family friendly you do mean under-drinking-age kids. Age can be quite relevant in Vancouver, as a) older 'kids' by US standards might have no problem boozing here (19 vs 21), b) transit has age brackets for cheaper fares, so <14yr olds benefit from the same discounted rates as Seniors and <5s ride free. First - there's nowhere in Gastown I'd recommend a family with kids stay as it lacks hotels entirely (there are a handful of VERY low quality hostel type accommodations that masquerade as hotels) and AirBnB etc. are far more often than not also illegal under the current licensing requirements of the city - and anyone willing to lie about the legality of their home is also pretty unlikely to be doing things like have their smoke detectors, escape routes etc. verified as being up to code. Very brief summary - any Host with 2 or more homes listed, any whole home rented for 6 months or more each year, these are 100% illegal rentals. Folks have been getting around the requirement to get a license by simply lying and inputting a fake number to fool AirBnBs crappy automated system, or getting one license and reusing it across multiple homes. Enforcement is now funded, so while the primary reporting method is still p*ssed-off neighbors calling the City about illegal rentals, the multiple-units and too-long-each-year places are also being weeded out by city staff - even a Superhost with 5* reviews can have their units all suddenly disappear as the city catches up to them... and AirBnB insurance coverage does not apply when the host lies, so you're on the hook to find a hotel at potentially very short notice. Much of Gastown is also in the Downtown EastSide, so there are some pretty gnarly sights happening in broad daylight, let alone after dark, so even if you are happy to take the risk of an AirBnB or are happy to stay in a very basic hostel, unless everyone in your family is very experienced with the grittier side of urban life I would also strongly suggest looking for accommodation elsewhere instead (unless you want to explain the sex and drug trades to your kids of course...) Pretty much every Chinese resto in Chinatown handles big family tables, it's the normal expectation (very few have a separate bar at all, so kids can usually sit everywhere during all service hours). The others, even our pubs, also tend to be fine for kids. Typical local model is to run two separate operations - so kids may be unwelcome in the Bar area, but are fine on the Restaurant side. Some licenses instead allow kids until Xpm (9pm is relatively common, so unless you're late diners there are very few 'no Minors' restos). Budget and types of food you love/hate are far, far bigger factors in resto choice unless you have an enormous family and want to make resos (few Vancouver restos take groups bigger than a dozen, especially on weekends, without prepayment/private room bookings). TL;DR - we need much more info to give you any relevant suggestions!
  5. Since you have access to an RV, it could be a pretty epic drive - 40+ hours driving and over 2,000 miles through the Yukon and BC...
  6. Downtown Vancouver has no discounted booze stores (minimum pricing means some bars actually put their prices UP during Happy Hour!) and none in grocery stores (in theory it's now legal, but there are so many restrictions on how far they have to be from other liquor stores, schools etc. that IIRC there are just three sites in the entire city that could potentially sell liquor and they're all in the 'burbs) so you're looking at Provincial or Private liquor stores (which must buy all their booze through the provincial liquor distribution network so always end up being more expensive). Unless you need some before you actually board, the simplest thing is to just get it near the pier - the BC Liquor Store at the Harbour Centre is very close by, so even if you take a cab to the pier and drop your bags you can walk over to buy wine and be back again in <30 minutes including buying time. The website linked shows products in-stock, accurate to within a few hours, and pricing (NB: 15% tax and a bottle deposit of 10cents on regular wine is added at the checkout). In case you come back in the future - we operate booze on a provincial basis, same as how different US states have different booze laws, so what occurs here in BC can be quite different than in e.g. Quebec, where you can totes buy beer & wine in supermarkets and even corner stores before boarding a 'leaf peeping' cruise.
  7. You'd have to try extremely hard to miss it - every cruiseline will book you on that, even on 3 ship days. You could literally WALK to the airport in time! On a 1 ship day I'd have zero hesitation saying 'go for it' even if it got bumped forward by an hour - and if you can handle self-disembarking and using transit, you could go for a 10:30am flight with virtually no risk...
  8. First up, rooms - YWCA Hotel remains the best deal in the region, and they have rooms with up to 5 beds which would be ideal for your own family. They also have double & twin 'regular hotel rooms' with private baths, as well as 2 rooms which share a single bathroom 'Jack & Jill' style, and they deal with infants superbly - not only do they have cots, but the shared kitchens are perfect for cooking full family meals let alone simpler tasks like warming a bottle, and the & laundry facilities will help handle with washing the mountain of cloths and clothing that baby is likely to throw up on etc. 😉 Otherwise I'd suggest one of the Condo Hotels, which are basically apartments with their own kitchens etc. too - Rosedale on Robson, Times Square Suites spring to mind downtown. Airport hotel the night before might be worth the extra hassle if you actually save money - but remember two things: first, your time is worth something so waiting around for a hotel shuttle at night while you may have a screaming baby and stroppy older kids to handle is no fun at all (and you have to do it all over again next day if you want to get the fixed rate cab fares from the airport, as they don't apply from the hotels just YVR itself, so it's cheaper to cab from YVR and the price is firm, not metered...); second, late at night and straight into a cab will mean no traffic to delay you heading downtown, so frankly you could be in your downtown hotel even faster than an airport hotel unless the shuttle is already on it's way to YVR when you call. No shuttles to the pier, except for a very small number of downtown hotels (and cabs to the pier would only be ~$10 each from those). Taxis and limos can legally carry kids without a seat in BC - personally that's not something I'd recommend though, and you also need to know that Alaska has no such exemption (in fact, even buses must have kids in car seats by law if seatbelts are present, so there is no guarantee even a cruiseline excursion by bus will let you bring unsecured kids). Basically, if you want to do anything in any port except walk around or ride transit buses, you have to suck it up and bring the car seats! The big kid may be OK depending how tall/heavy they are, but the others you really, really need to plan to bring seats for. Making your own brekkie and even packing a lunch for sightseeing days saves a fortune, and ensures picky kids get the same cereal as at home. Do that for some of the days, and put the savings toward one super-fancy waffle breakfast! I'd normally recommend Medina, but they don't generally take resos and the wait can be huge because they are still the best breakfast in town. However you could call them - they will sometimes take resos for big groups on weekdays, and since you'll need at least one high chair and have 7 people they might be willing to do so for you on your Friday or the Monday if your flight is late enough to do brekky beforehand. Failing that, De Dutch Pancake House has a Convention Centre location that's very convenient on embarkation day, White Spot is a very family-friendly local chain that will feed you for all your daily meals at a fair price with decent quality (and their Pirate Pak kids meals are so in demand that there is a special day each year when adults are allowed to order them and proceeds go to charity!!!), and Cora's might be of interest for brekky (if your hotel is toward the West End, Cora's and Nero's Waffles could also be very convenient). Other dinner options that are definitely value propositions include: the Old Spaghetti Factory, which may be distinctly mediocre in terms of food quality but they have AYCE options, extensive kids menu, and all sorts of ridiculous decor that kids love (eat inside not just an old trolley car, but a haunted one!); The Keg (several locations, e.g. Granville Island) which is a Canadian steakhouse that's solid value with plenty of kids options; and if you want to try and broaden the kids' horizons a little on the pizza front, try Nicli which is the most family-friendly of our fancy-schmancy pie places. A suggestion for all - try an Izakaya. These are 'Japanese Tapas Pubs' with an emphasis on sharing food, either big plates for everyone to eat the same thing or small plates for each to have their own little portions of lots of things. The concept may sound 'super ethnic' but as long as you avoid the raw fish (they do have sushi, but it's far from the only option!) much of the rest is extremely accessible (noodles, soups, chicken wings, pork chops, sausages - basically it's 'normal pub grub' with weird names). I took my parents to one on their first visit, and while Mum will try stuff Dad is very much a 'meat, potatoes, and boiled-to-death peas or corn' kind of guy and he loved it. Guu and Hapa have a few branches around the city. I'd also suggest trying a Sushi roll unless you already know that you don't like them - because they've got veggies, rice, and (sometimes cooked!) seafood all combined they're a great intro to sushi. Prawn, Eel, Octopus are almost always cooked already - and if you fancy getting Meemaw & Gramps to babysit and going for a nice dinner yourselves, you could consider Miku by the pier as it has a view and they are an Aburi sushi joint, which means they actually scorch their 'raw' fish with a blowtorch (so it's more 'cooked rare' than raw) 😉 We also have tons of regular pubs, almost all of which let kids in during the day/in part of the space at night - and in Vancouver they will have all the normal suspects food-wise, plus usually some good or better Fish & Chips, at least a couple of salmon/halibut entrees, and some asian noodles as well. If noodles in soup and fried chicken sounds like your family's idea of a good lunch, you can also hit up any of our Ramen joints safely - generally you choose veggie/chicken/pork broth, thin or thick noodles, and what sorts of meats you want in the bowl, optionally throw on stuff like hot chili or garlic oil, and Karaage as a side plate is simply fried chicken. Fun for the kids (and granny!) to slurp noodles, and while connoisseurs debate the best broth in the city it's pretty hard to find a BAD bowl of noodles in Vancouver (as neophytes, you may even find Noodle Box tolerable - I describe that chain as 'Asian food designed for retired white ladies who are scared of chili, garlic and ginger'...) Kids market on Granville Island, Science World, most of our museums have kiddie-focused areas with outfits to put on and the like, and the Space Centre is extremely child-friendly. Biking around - you can rent 'chariots' to pull along behind a bike, tandems and adult tricycles if your parents are perhaps a bit unstable so they can either be pedaled by you or DH on a tandem or have no risk of tipping on a trike. This is the best way to see the Seawall and Stanley park - you can bike anywhere you can walk, but faster and with less effort. e-Bike rentals are also popular if balance is fine but the effort of pedaling is a concern! HOHO buses and regular bus tours work fine with kids of course, and while you have a few days between Pre- and Post- I'd still be hesitant to recommend much specific stuff without knowing you better, so honestly the best advice any of us locals can offer is go to TripAdvisor. Find some of the Lists - there are lots along the lines of '48 hours in Vancouver', 'Vancouver with Kids' etc. that will give you suggested combos of sites, and the sites themselves are ranked in order of popularity with Joe Q Public, so if your tastes are generally in the mainstream it's a solid bet that if you just read the Top 10 things you'll find stuff that appeals. Once you have a list of ideas, by all means come back and ask about optimal transport methods between them, or if your tastes are niche enough that popular sites just don't sound like your bag tell us more about your group and you'll get some much better-targeted suggestions.
  9. Yeah, I've seen a couple of posts over the years with CC members, and spoken to a few other visitors, about 'luggage fees' in taxis - ironically they're usually very complimentary about the driver and just mention a buck a bag in passing! $15 is much higher than anything I've heard of before.
  10. Sorry Rich - I meant that the website linked was one of many that the boards have been spammed with over recent years by a specific poster, using a couple of pseudonyms (but always claiming local Vancouver status). I never had any concern your account was also one of his, he's obviously spamming FB groups these days too and you just innocently reposted it. Yes, the online world would be a better place if everyone always checked the accuracy of everything before passing it along, but it's just not reasonable to expect it given how as a species we had gossip and 'Chinese Whispers' long before 'teh intrawebs' became a thing - but the weasel behind the crappy websites is the real problem, so apology accepted 😉
  11. Be aware that if you do this in your own car, you MUST book parking in advance - thanks to all those annoying tourists (😉) they now operate a restricted number of vehicle entries daily. On the plus side, this does mean you just might be able to find a few moment without a horde of other tourists getting in the way of your photos! I'd also highly recommend SFCityGuide walking tours; and if you're going to pack in a lot of activities, it's very hard to argue with the value you'll get from a CityPass or GO Card (which is best for you depends which sites you visit). If you pack the clothes you'd wear in the dead of winter in FL, they should work for the typically very-rainy-but-rarely-even-close-to-freezing PNW and SF. Key element is a good top shell that will block rain and wind; you can easily acquire 'mid layers' like long-sleeve-Ts or fleeces in most all of your coastal ports, which double up as souvenirs as well as being practical. If you want to be on deck looking at stuff, a thin fleece beanie hat, scarf, and gloves (hit a Dollar Store when you get here, I doubt that FL stores will have such things in stock!) fold up very small and keep your extremities toasty when wind-chill is doubling down thanks to ship movement!
  12. No disagreement with what's been posted, but so you can refer your friend to the proverbial horses' mouth for the info (do NOT take responsibility for confirming any info about visa requirements for friends, ever!!!) Tell them to click on each country, then the Entry Requirements, and if they want to be extra-careful there are even links within those pages to the relevant country's own embassy etc. Check passport expiry date too, as that may be relevant for some of the places to be visited.
  13. It's small, not cheap, not part of a popular chain for points, and of course the single biggest reason is that CC only makes up a teeny fraction of cruisers, who make up only ~10% of tourists, so CC is bluntly a terrible resource for reviews of anything but the largest and most popular hotels (which skew heavily toward 'right next to the pier' or 'affordable' when it comes to questions on the boards, and the Loden is in neither category). It's a VERY well-reviewed hotel on TripAdvisor, Expedia etc. (much more relevant resources for hotels); the location is indeed good, and it also gives free bikes to guests which is a nice little bonus, especially since there's a bike lane right outside; the hotel owns a London Cab which it shuttles you around in (but with a cab costing <$10, if the car's already booked when you want it on embarkation day just walk or cab instead of waiting); Tableau downstairs is an independent resto but frankly those are almost always better than an actual 'run by the hotel' resto anyway - and they provide room service to the hotel. So if you're happy with the price on your dates I'd have no reservations about booking.
  14. That dude again!!! I gave up reporting his posts on here years ago, as despite the fact that he is posting links to his own sites without indicating that's the case (against CC rules, even if they were actually good-quality sites instead of cookie-cutter, buzzfeed-esque, copied & pasted from other sources with zero verification and few updates ever), using multiple aliases (also against CC rules) none of them have ever been pulled by the mods. It's great that you're attempting to get folks to wise up a little NJH, but don't waste too much effort on it as there's absolutely zero effort made by CC itself to maintain accuracy, even when you literally hand over everything they need to delete a post/ban a poster that violates their rules on the proverbial silver platter...
  15. Clarification on the surrounding area that CW couldn't confirm for you: drive distance is 1.25miles, barely 5 mins, to the pier (but with typical bottleneck for getting inside to the luggage drop area, that time could double easily - should still be not much over the $10 mark on the meter though even in traffic). Oh, and since there's not a single cab in the city that can handle 6 adults + luggage you will need two from YVR ($32 each fixed fare) and again to the pier - even our Minivan cabs are almost all missing a row of seats to fit wheelchairs inside so only seat 4 pax, while at least 80% of all cab fleets are Prius models which usually only handle 3+ big suitcases due to reduced trunk space with all the batteries. CW is correct that this hotel dining is only breakfast. You have a sea of mostly-mediocre restos available on Granville and Burrard Streets, from 4-10mins walk away, but IMO the only ones good enough to be worth recommending are: Banana Leaf on Davie (~300 yards, Malaysian); Takis' Taverna the next block up Davie (~400 yards, Greek, very old school and vastly superior to Stepho's just a couple of doors further along); Alpha Sushi (the only decent sushi on Granville since Shuraku closed last year, <400 yards; but if you want better sushi though less other stuff, Kaide on Richards is <700 yards and still the best-value sushi in downtown IMO); Twisted Fork (mostly known for excellent brekkies, closes after lunch so no good for dinner, <400 yards, in case you don't like the brekkie options at the hotel); If you want to try Poutine, you are perfectly located - the two most well-known local ones, Fritz and La Belle Patate are <700 yards away on Davie (Fritz is just one block east; LBP is west) Looking for somewhat fancier food? Head into Yaletown, not much further at barely half a mile/10mins walk, for a big upgrade in average resto quality including probably the single finest seafood resto in the city, Blue Water Cafe, as well as some much better quality but not much pricier than many Granville options PNW bistros like the Flying Pig (one of the best value Happy Hours around), Brix & Mortar (their Prix Fixe is a bargain); your nearest Keg is also in Yaletown (v. popular Canadian steakhouse), as is IMO the best Greek in downtown (The Greek by Anatoli), one of the v popular local Nuba chain (Lebanese) and one of our oldest brewpubs, Yaletown Brewing. If you have any specific dining loves/hates and the list above doesn't cut the mustard, give me more details (ballpark $ budget - NB: CAD means ~25% discount! - plus any allergy/special dietary issues etc. Since you're from Kansas City please don't ask for good local BBQ though - your crappiest local is probably better than our best BBQ joint unless you want Chinese style!!!)
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