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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. It's the same as with cruiselines and any other big company with a 1-800 number - any time you use a call center you are at the mercy of the worst of the individual CSRs competence/experience/ability to master the training material combined with the inherent quality of the company's corporate training material, how good the actual trainer was on the session(s) attended by the CSR, and the quality of scripts/system actually used in daily work. At least two of those factors vary a lot! When local knowledge is required - and car rental is definitely something that's more often that not very relevant! - the only way to reasonably ensure you are speaking to people with local knowledge is to contact the office directly, by calling the local office number not the corporate line. Sometimes that's hard to find - the website may use the generic phone number because that's the way the company wants it - but Googling can usually find you the right number to call. 604 area code (sometimes 778) are what you want here if you have a question like 'do you give me a cab credit?' but rocketman is totaly right that for simple 'Where/How Far?' factual info, Google Maps is going to provide it. On the taxi front, you can at least be reassured that every fleet in Vancouver has accessible cabs and they all take wheelchairs and scooters of any standard commercially available size. They're pretty much all the same vehicle - a Toyota minivan with a row of seats removed - that still just have 4 passenger seats. ~18% of every fleet must be this format to comply with local law, so worst case is that you wait a few minutes extra at the pier for a cab (if you go upstairs to Pan Pacific, where the bellstaff will hail cabs for you, they can call to ensure an accessible vehicle is despatched). That leaves you with only 2 categories of rental office - close enough you can scoot there (I don't know the range you're comfortable with on that, but at the very least you have the pier itself and the hotels along Canada Place with rental desks inside to choose from, all within about 300 metres) or 'I need a cab to get to them' so that you can be sure of an appropriate accessible vehicle. Airport rentals would cost ~$40 to get to, any downtown rental office is most likely $10 cab ride or less in the core, and the in-between places are rare. If you see the best rate at office X, it's easy to just plug the address into Google maps and see how far it is from the pier. On-the-day rentals vary wildly in price so I'd be tempted to persevere with a booking, especially if you are picky about size/format of vehicle - sounds like you need a big enough trunk to fit your scooter, so a cheap sub-compact won't be any good to you unless ithat scooter folds down to a very modest size.
  2. As you see from otehr answers already OP, there's a big difference day-to-day in Vancouver regarding how efficient the boarding process is - the question you actually asked has a pretty consistent answer (if you show up at 10:30am you will definitely be able to join the check-in queue; earlier than that may be possible but it depends how many ships therefore how long it takes to get all the incoming pax dealt with as nobody gets to check-in before everyone has been confirmed OFF the ships, thanks to preclearing US immigration before boarding in Vancouver...) BUT the question you possibly wanted to ask is "when is it quickest to check-in?" That depends even more on passenger volumes - there could be one ship or four, and anything from ~500 pax to 10,000+ all needing to embark on any given day! If you are early, you will most likely check-in then sit in a big hall for an hour then start going through Security and Immigration - which will be quick since there aren't many people ahead of you. So being onboard as early as possible guarantees waiting, probably 60-90mins total from curb to cabin. Turn up as LATE as possible though, and again the queues are light or even nonexistent BUT you also remove the wait time due to clearing the ships - in other words your curb to cabin time is purely based on how long it takes to be processed at each stage, no chunk of sitting around time. That means it's always efficient to show up as late as you possibly can - since we started doing that we've generally taken 20minutes curb to cabin. You could show up at 10:30am and if you get lucky you may also be on board that fast - but it's unlikely. Plus, boarding late has the enormous advantage of giving you bonus time in Vancouver! With your handle I'm guessing you are a fellow Canuck OP, but from way over the other side so unless you used to live this side chances are there's plenty of stuff you haven't seen in Vancouver just like foreign cruisers - and most folks fail to add on enough pre/post cruise time to do Vancouver justice. We have more people, more stuff, more toruist sites etc. than literally every cruise port in Alaska combined... and if you board at 3pm instead of 10am, that's five whole hours of sightseeing - enough to do any one site, even a really big one, or two or three smaller ones. Just be sensible and leave the things near the pier for last, so there's no risk of missing the ship! Aim for 2 hours before your ship is scheduled to leave - there's a hard cap of 90mins before as CBP want time the passenger manifest before the ship leaves. Gastown, Coal Harbour are just minutes walking, so no matter how bad traffic gets there's zero risk of being late if you're touring those. TL;DR - if you just want to be onboard as early as possible, arriving before 10:30am will pretty much guarantee you are one of the first people onboard. Just be aware that the time you actually set foot on the ship is most likely going to be 11:30am or later.
  3. Glad it all worked out for you Diane - hope embarkation was smooth yesterday, and you enjoy your cruise!
  4. I was 99.99% sure that was the case, but couldn't resist the pun πŸ˜‰
  5. Dunn's I wager - personally I'd suggest La Belle Patate on Davie, as it's not really much further to walk and the poutine is vastly superior to Dunn's. I've also never been a huge fan of Dunn's smoked meat to be honest, despite making a huge deal about their hand-carving it's just not as flavourful IMO as Lester's or Schwartz' back in Montreal. Smoked Meat really isn't a Vancouver specialty so if you've had it before in Quebec or even Toronto I wouldn't recommend it here, though if you've never had it so wouldn't know the difference you might like it just fine - if it's primarily the poutine you're after then LBP do actually serve a very authentic basic product as well as a plethora of variations, and when you fling smoked meat into gravy & cheese you don't pick up on the subtleties so much πŸ˜‰
  6. If I'm understanding your situation correctly there's nothing else that we can suggest on here for you to resolve matters. I think Flatbushflyer gave you the skinny about the system change on the duplicate question - i.e. that now instead of GOES you need a Login.gov account, but that only happened a couple of years ago so with GE cards having a 5 year duration you should not have needed it the previous time you applied/renewed which would have definitely been through GOES. Unless you had some other reason than GE to have acquired an account on login.gov the logical deduction is that your current attempts to sign up have gone awry - and it's definitely going to be DHS, who run login.gov, rather than CBP who you need help from. I reused the same email account that I used with GOES to register on login.gov just this year for my own NEXUS renewal, as did my wife for hers, and neither of us had any problem doing so - which means there isn't any problem reusing the email account listed on the old GOES system with the new one that could be falsely triggering a 'this email is already registered' flag. Even if you're being super-careful to follow the instructions now, odds are very high you did something wrong the first time around - and that's now biting you every time you try to do it right because you have a partial account set up. Unless you got the secondary login verification info - a code texted to your phone - first time around, then you definitely did not follow the instructions completely and once you have an email listed on the system as in process there's simply no way that a secure website is ever going to let you reuse it without manual intervention after verifying you are really you in some other manner. Actually I do have one other idea - set up a brand new email account with Gmail, Yahoo etc. and start again from scratch...? We're using free web-based email accounts for ours so there's certainly no issue with them, although I think if I were you I'd still want to tidy up the partial accounts for the entire family even if a new email does let you start over, even if just to ensure that come renewal reminder time you get an email sent to an account you actually check regularly!
  7. A cab certainly wouldn't cost an awful lot, but better value might be making use of local transit - the 19 bus goes right into the park and several others have a stop just outside it. As long as you have a device with WiFi, you can make use of the free citywide #VanWiFi network and easily orient yourself using mapping software (Google has had people walk and bike around with cameras for Streetviews of non-vehicular paths, and also fully-integrates our transit system so it's a good one-stop-shop for deciding if you want to walk a part of your route or hop on a bus instead). I concur with Milhouse that what you've mentioned certainly sounds quite feasible, but I'd be concerned that the foot combined with long walks precruise might be problematic, as you won't know if or when it might become troublesome. That makes me inclined to start with bus or cab into the park as you proposed so that from there everywhere else you go is city streets therefore easy to find cabs & buses if DHs foot starts to niggle. One option to consider - can you both ride bikes? That will take an awful lot of stress off DHs foot, speed your movement, and still allows you to go anywhere that you would on foot. You can sign up for MobiBike - the local bikeshare - for just a day (24 hours - so good next calendar day too) and then have unlimited hops of 30mins or less. Given how many of their bike racks are scattered around - including multiple inside Stanley park these days - it would be very feasible to cycle from rack to rack, walk around a bit, grab another bike and continue to lather, rinse, and repeat your way around town. They come with helmets - use them, it's the law even on dedicated bike paths. Not knowing exactly where you'll be at what time it's hard to push for any specific resto/pubs - but honestly the standard of food in even pretty mediocre chain pubs here is perfectly decent, with things like local salmon, halibut & chips and various Asian dishes the norm across the board. If you're not picky, you'll do fine in any random pub - but if you are on or around the Seawall come dinner time you may as well have a view while you eat! Tap & Barrel are steadily building a deathgrip in the local 'pubs on Seawall with a patio' niche, but fortunately they've also got the best pub grub menu around - despite their many and huge patios giving them a license to print money (even decidedly mediocre food sells if you have a view to go with it) they revamp the menu completely every 3 years so it always stays interesting. If you're feeling a little swankier, Cactus Club Cafe is a 'casual fine dining' chain that has branches at both Coal Harbour and English Bay with views - and no pricing bump compared to their other branches locally (there's another just up the street from your hotel for example).
  8. No worries - and if that transfer is with any mainstream cruiseline, cancelling it will likely net you a refund of $25-29 per person... Could be worse value than from the Wall though - I know of folks who paid to be transferred from the Pan Pacific Hotel, and the walk from there involves just going downstairs!!! πŸ˜‰
  9. ^As long as there aren't any stops, yes, you'll always Preclear... but if there is a stop in Victoria (or any other Canadian port) before you head to the US, no Preclearance. IIRC a 3 day cruise to LA won't have time to make any stops unless it's a really, really fast ship so they should all Preclear πŸ˜‰
  10. That someone is very sensible - unless you have non-stop flight options to YVR, going via SEA it's just as easy to fly to YYJ and then you avoid all the wasted time on ferries (or extra cost on floatplanes/choppers, which are not cheap at all these days). I always suggest folks do exactly this (or fly home from YYJ if they want to do Victoria after their cruise), as well as getting out of Victoria itself to some of the other parts of the Island (for which a rental car is basically a necessity, as transit sucks as soon as you get out of the Victoria area). The comments about busy ferries, and the small-but-still-present risk of a breakdown or even weather-based cancellation, are absolutely valid and definitely make 1 night in Vancouver precruise the sensible option too. They do run full around the holidays - and while foot passengers can pretty much always squeeze on to any ferry departure (it's folks with cars who have problems without a reso) if you were considering a one-way car rental and driving yourself over on the ferry then I would regard a reservation as absolute necessity around July 1st. The BCFConnector coach is likely just as cheap if there's only 2 of you - cars become cheaper when you pack them with bums on all seats though, as well as adding some flexibility. With 3 nights post-cruise in Vancouver you can fill your entire time downtown (or using provided shuttles to places like Grouse & Capilano) but depending exactly which of our many sites you want to visit, another one-day car rental might be advantageous to get you around the more suburban areas where parking is much more affordable and transit involves long trips with connections. Incidentally, the fireworks in Vancouver are actually better than those in Victoria on Canada Day - Victoria may be the seat of provincial government but it's tiny compared to Vancouver and has a ton of retirees who can't stay up late and complain about noiseπŸ˜‰ If you flipped your trip and did Vancouver pre- then Victoria post-cruise (and flew home from YYJ/Clippered back to Seattle) it would also be more efficient, as you'd eliminate the risk of missing your cruise by starting in Vancouver.
  11. With a midnight departure OP could stay in Butchart until kicking out time, wait an hour for a cab to arrive, and still make it back to the dock by the usual '30 mins predeparture' time so personally I'd find a DIY cab based trip to be extremely low risk if they port at 4pm. 4pm arrival is very tight for the 5pm CVS shuttle though, even if they queue up at the gangplank before anyone else there's still the minimum 10mins by cab/30mins walk to the Empress. The 7pm shuttle makes for just as short a visit as ship tours tend to be, so I would agree that shuttle is not the right approach on this visit. Car rental might also be viable if OP is willing to risk dropping keys in the slot without getting an inspection done on return - I think it's been a few years since I can recall any fake repair scams happening in Victoria πŸ˜‰
  12. Canadian debit cards are commonly taken (Interac is the name of our most popular debit payment network) but foreign debit cards will need to have Visa or MC processing capability so it depends on his bank. I can also promise that Credit Cards do exist even if he doesn't believe in them πŸ˜‰
  13. Clifton Hill is about the only street in the world that makes the Vegas strip look classy πŸ˜‰
  14. The ticket vending machines certainly do. As to 'tapping' - if your Debit card can use Visa or MC systems to be processed (pretty common - check your card for the logos) then it may well work for that too, but if it doesn't there will be a machine to buy the ticket very close by at any SkyTrain station.
  15. Rather than clog up Terry's thread with more and more ancillary info, I'll point you over to the most-relevant Vancouver board (West Coast Departures) for any further questions, where I'll be happy to go into any details you like (and some other locals and past visitors will also). But since I'm already posting I may as well answer this Q! All the major car rental companies have downtown offices so go with the best price on the day unless you have some loyalty status with a particular firm. Costco tends to offer the best prices across the board - if you're not a member, Kayak has excellent tools to compare multiple rental companies in the same city at once which saves a lot of time checking 4+ individual company websites!
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