Today Steve (DOS) and I had a fun and leisurely time exploring the downtown and port area of Vancouver. While we’ve both been here before, it was usually just to catch a cruise, with little time to actually sightsee the heart of the city. We got in last night, and are staying at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver Downtown for two nights. We had a great night’s rest, and even with the three hour time change, we managed to sleep until 8am Vancouver time!
We had breakfast at the Hyatt, which was included with my Hyatt Globalist status, which is a very nice perk as breakfast with tip amounted to nearly $80 Canadian. At this Hyatt in Vancouver, the Concierge Lounge was still closed due to COVID, but we were treated to a full complimentary breakfast Buffett at the hotel’s restaurant instead, which was actually much better that the Concierge Lounge I would imagine.
We saw a couple people in the restaurant that are also cruising tomorrow (Wednesday) on our Grand Princess 12 night Alaska cruise, and who were also on our flight from DFW to Vancouver. We said hello and chatted a bit for heading out for the day, briefly heading back to the room first to take our medicine, brush our teeth, get my cap, etc.
One thing that really stood out about the Hyatt Regency Vancouver, was the “Smart Elevators”. Yes Elevators of all things! There is a bank of several elevators, and a monitor at each one from which you select your floor. The monitor has a host of options as well, from hotel information, restaurant/lounge hours and locations, etc, along with the floor options for guest and meeting rooms.
The monitors are touch screen, and very straight-forward to use, however almost all new guests such as us had no clue you needed to use them to pick your floor. Fortunately the Bellman gave us a quick tutorial when we checked in to the hotel, as he took us and our luggage up to our 22nd floor room.
Basically, the elevator finds the quickest elevator to your floor, and pairs up to 10 close-by floors together (though we seldom had any other floors selected) so it drastically limits stops. The monitor then displays which elevator for you to take, and you walk in and it goes automatically with no additional button pushes required.
In most cases we went nonstop to our floor, which is awesome as you don’t stop maybe 10 other times along the way (as in most elevators) to reach a high floor.
What is a bit odd, (and especially for people who didn’t know to use the elevator monitor to “check-in for their floor”), is there are no floor buttons to select once inside the elevator. If you just tagged along and followed someone in, you would be going to their floor with no option to add yours! Fortunately we were pros by the time we checked out, and grew to love the “Smart Elevators”. LOL!
After breakfast, DOS and I walked a few short blocks down to the port of Vancouver, where the cruise ships dock. There were no cruise ships in today (Tuesday), but it is mid-week, and the end of the Alaska cruise season. In fact on our 12 night Alaska cruise will be the final cruise of the 2022 Alaska cruise season.
We’ve been to Alaska several times, but never in the late season month (and often rainy) month of September. Still, we we were amazed at the wonderful weather in Vancouver here in mid-September! While we didn’t (but could have) worn shorts, we both wore short sleeve shirts while we toured around downtown Vancouver, and walked towards the cruise port.
I have very fond memories of the Vancouver Cruise port, as I’ve been here several times over the years. I fondly remember “Canada Place”, which is a dual purpose Convention Center, as well as the Port of Vancouver for Cruise ships arriving and departing. I was first here in 2005 (the year I met DOS), but on my first and only cruise with my parents and brother Andy. The cruise was for my parents 50th Anniversary, and they graciously treated all of us to an unforgettable first cruise to Alaska on Celebrity Cruises.
I vividly remember the cruise port, and the Canada Place “sail-like” terminal from which we sailed, which is just like today, however with some major enhancements to the convention center and addition of the “Fly Over” Canada attraction.
DOS and I walked around Canada Place, the Convention Center, and attached Pan Pacific Hotel, before heading up to the “Fly Over” Canada attraction ride. The Pan Pacific Hotel is a beautiful (and pricey) hotel complex attached to both the Cruise Port and Convention Center at Canada Place. We took a few photos in the hotel, and then headed back to the Fly Over Canada attraction.
After a quick online search about what type of ride “Fly Over Canada” was, (I didn’t want to find myself on a roller coaster with my heart condition and recent pacemaker added!), we figured it was very similar to the “Soaring” attraction at EPCOT in Disney World, which combines an IMAX type screen, but with moveable seats simulating a gentle hang gliding experience.
After touring the gift shop area for “Fly Over”, DOS purchased the tickets for the Canada attraction on-line, which saved a buck or two from the ticket window. There were a couple ride options you could choose from, including one focused on Alberta, while the more general one we chose featured the major Canadian cities and landmarks.
True to our assumptions, the “Fly Over” Canada, was virtually identical to the EPCOT version of the attraction, however the movie itself and pre-show was totally Canadian-based in focus. The ride itself however, was like the EPCOT “Soaring” ride, a “hang glider” like experience while gently floating thru some of the most spectacular scenery Canada has to offer. Also like the EPCOT attraction, various scents such as the pine scents from the evergreen trees, and mist from the sea are added to give you a truly immersive feel to the attraction. It was truly well done – outstanding actually! While we weren’t allowed to take photos or videos of the attraction, we did purchase the photo package, which included a “green screen” of our pre-flight photo, along with digital copies of photos, a framed souvenir and a booklet explaining the making of the attraction.
Of course we had to take a couple photos of the Canadian Moose and Bear in front of the Fly Over gift shop!
Later we toured the Pan Pacific Hotel a bit more, and considered lunch at one of their restaurants, although not only pricey, there was nothing we really wanted, other than the view. We ended up going to the nearby food court and had a made-to-order burger from “Fat Burger” a local establishment that’s been around since the 1950’s and actually served fresh and delicious food! We even sat in a 50’s like booth, reminiscent of a soda-fountain establishment on Happy Days!
After lunch and a bit later in the afternoon, we slowly headed back to our hotel, admiring the buildings, architecture, fountains, and sculptures along the way.
We considered going to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, which has multiple walk-over bridges and trails, but we ran out of time, so will try this on a future visit.
For dinner, we went to The Keg House, which was a nice, but casual steakhouse located a few short blocks from the hotel. The Keg House was quite a hopping place, with lots of out door seating, and a more intimate and classy atmosphere indoors where we dined in a booth for two.
DOS and I both had the prime rib special, along with a shrimp cocktail appetizer for me, and a large Cesar Salad for DOS. We also split a bottle of Chilean Cabernet, which was quite earthy and nice.
After the relaxing dinner, we even splurged calorie-wise for a shared slice of cheesecake!
Anyway, it’s 11:45pm Vancouver time as I write this, and need to get to bed. We board the Grand Princess Cruise tomorrow with a scheduled time of between 10:30am and 11am, although we will probably get there towards the 11am time so we don’t have to wait to board.
We’re both really looking forward to the cruise, and and relaxing a bit along the way!
Good night from Vancouver!