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Victoria BC Cruise Port Tips

Victoria Harbour. Credit: Pixabay Creative Commons license
Victoria Harbour. Credit: Pixabay Creative Commons license
The Victoria cruise port is both a port of call for Alaska cruises and an embarkation port for cruises elsewhere, such as Hawaii and the Mexican Riviera.

Victoria, the capital city of British Columbia, sits on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

Up to four ships at a time berth at the Ogden Point cruise terminal, which is close to downtown and Inner Harbour attractions. Passenger services at the docks include gift shops, foreign currency exchange and pay phones. Tour and shuttle buses, taxis and other forms of transportation also are available.

Four attractions dominate the cruise port area: Inner Harbour, Bastion Square, Chinatown and Butchart Gardens.

Attractions and Shore Excursions


Attractions and shore excursions focus heavily on the inner city and the famous Butchart Gardens. For guided shore excursions that include both, expect to pay anywhere between $70 and $125 per person depending on the length and amenities.

Walking Around Attractions


Victoria Harbour is a good starting point for anyone who simply wants to walk around. Inner Harbour is the site of shops, restaurants and nearby access to historic buildings and architecture such as the Royal British Columbia Museum. It begins by the cruise pier and extends is a little more than one mile northeast of the cruise ship docks.

Bastion Square is in the heart of downtown and next to Inner Harbour. The ceremonial entry arch at View and Government Streets is the welcome point for the original site of old Fort Victoria. The square looks out on the Inner Harbour and offers cafes, pubs and restaurants. During the summer, it has active outdoor patios and an arts and crafts market.

Chinatown to the north of Bastion Square is the oldest community of its kind in Canada and is known for the "Gates of Harmonious Interest". Only the most energetic walkers from the cruise docks can reach it on foot. Most other visitors may want to get there by excursion bus.

Other city highlights include the majestic Parliament House, Empress Hotel and Beacon Hill Park.

Parliament House on Government Street a little more than one mile west of the docks. The Royal British Columbia Museum, 675 Belleville St., is only a few hundred feet away. The photographic Empress Hotel is next to Inner Harbor and near the Parliament buildings. The extensive Beach Hill Park is about a mile southeast of the docks and is known for the world’s largest totem pole.

Shore Excursions


Butchart Gardens
Butchart Gardens; credit: Pixabay Creative Commons license
Victoria is one of those cities with so much to see and so much walking to do that a guided shore excursion has some appeal. A typical guided tour will last anywhere from two to four hours and cost $50 of more. The length and cost depend on how many of the above places the tour visits as well as the first one below.

Craigdarroch Castle is a historic, Victorian-era Scottish Baronial mansion and National Historic Site. It’s three miles east of the cruise docks, so passengers will need a taxi, rental car or excursion bus to get there. This four-hour shore excursion costs about $80 or more per person. Keep in mind that a city tour will spend little time at Craigdarroch while an exclusive visit will tour the mansion.

We have grown to enjoy great public gardens, and we loved the world-famous Butchart Gardens. Even people who don’t normally visit gardens may find themselves impressed with Butchart. More than 100 years ago, the Butchart family turned a barren rock quarry into what is now one of the world’s most famous public gardens. Themed gardens, fountains, footpaths and other features cover more than 55 acres. A four-hour tour will cost about $80 per person.

The gardens are a 35-minute drive north of the cruise docks. They often are included in Victoria city tours from excursion companies. Admission for just the gardens is $25 plus transportation. A guided tour that includes everything is a convenient choice. Prices are subject to change.

Getting Around


Besides plenty of excursion buses, cruise visitors at Ogden Point will have transportation options including taxis, rental cars, bicycles and public buses.

Public buses stop at the Ogden Point Sundial, which is a quick walk east of the docks. Fares and schedules are available at bctransit.com.

Energetic walkers can reach Inner Harbour, Bastion Square, the Royal British Columbia Museum and other nearby attractions in 15 to 20 minutes.

Butchart Gardens, Victoria’s most famous attraction, is 15 miles away. The cost of a taxi is about $40 one way (plus tip), so a public bus, rental car or excursion bus is a better option for anyone on a limited budget.

Cruise Weather


Victoria weather is a bit cool even during the summer months when average daytime temperatures hover in the low 70s Fahrenheit or low 20s Celsius, according to the Meteorological Service of Canada.

Nighttime and early morning temperatures are chilly even during the summer when they drop into the low 50s Fahrenheit or low teens Celsius.

The risk of rain is low. The average rainfall during the summer is less than two inches per month.
Scott S. Bateman is a professional journalist who has traveled widely throughout the Caribbean and the Americas.

 > Category: Cruise Ports   

October 03, 2019

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