Cruises From Vancouver to San Francisco

Cruises From Vancouver to San Francisco: Top Cruise Lines, Stunning Pacific Coast, and Must-See Stops

by Christian Petzold - updated March 23, 2023

Are you looking for fun cruises from Vancouver to San Francisco? Whether you want to relax on deck, take in the sights, or explore the different destinations, there are many great options for cruises from Vancouver to San Francisco.

In this article, we’ll dive into all the exciting details of cruising from Vancouver to San Francisco, including the stunning Pacific coastline views, must-see stops along the way, and top-notch cruise lines to choose from.

Cruises From Vancouver

Cruises From Vancouver to San Francisco Overview

Cruising from Vancouver to San Francisco takes you on a 10-14 day journey along the west coast of North America, covering approximately 1,100 miles. Along the way, you will enjoy stunning views of the Pacific coastline, with opportunities to spot whales, dolphins, and other marine life.

Victoria, the capital of British Clumbia, is one of the most popular stops on this route. Here, you can explore the iconic Butchart Gardens, which boasts over 55 acres of stunning floral displays.

Butchart Gardens

You can also visit the Royal BC Museum, which features exhibits on the history and culture of British Columbia.

Royal British Columbia Museum

Seattle, known as the “Emerald City,” offers a vibrant cultural scene with world-renowned museums, art galleries, and music venues. It’s also houses the iconic Space Needle, which stands 605 feet tall and offers sensational views of the city and the enveloping mountains.

San Francisco is famous for its steep hills, cable cars, and iconic landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island. Visitors can explore the city’s diverse neighborhoods, including Chinatown and Haight-Ashbury, and sample its famous cuisines, such as sourdough bread and clam chowder.

Golden Gate Bridge

Vancouver to San Francisco cruises

While Alaska is a popular destination for cruises from Vancouver, many other exciting options exist. To find the perfect itinerary, choose the ports of call and experiences that interest you most, as Alaska cruises vary in their routes.

One-way cruises to Alaska typically last 5 to 14 nights and visit stunning locations such as Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, Hubbard Glacier, Tracy Arm, Seward, College Fjord, and Whittier. Longer cruises can extend to Valdez, Homer, and Anchorage before returning to Vancouver.

Cruises of 11 nights or more also visit Hawaii, while longer journeys of 35 nights or more cross the Pacific to destinations like Japan, Hong Kong, Vietnam, and Singapore. Repositioning cruises offer unique routes down the US Pacific Coast, stopping at cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Vancouver Attractions

Vancouver boasts a charming waterfront, and there is much to see and experience before and after your cruise. Vancouver has many festivals and sporting events annually, including the Winter Olympics and Paralympics (2010), the Women’s World Cup (2014), and the Canadian Open Golf Tournament.

Stanley Park

Among the must-see attractions in Vancouver is Stanley Park, which offers a 9 pm Gun Salute every evening, Grouse Mountain, Granville Island, the Vancouver Maritime Museum, the Museum of Anthropology with its great totem poles, HR Macmillan Space Center, and Gastown, where visitors can enjoy the historic Steam Clock and the FlyOver Canada virtual flight.

Vancouver Maritime Museum

San Francisco Attractions

The Golden Gate Bridge is an iconic landmark that spans almost two miles, connecting San Francisco to Marin County, California. Joseph Strauss designed construction on the bridge between 1933 and 1937, with workers enduring treacherous conditions to complete the project. Today, the bridge is a significant part of San Francisco’s history.

A great way to experience the Golden Gate Bridge is to take a walking tour with a knowledgeable local guide who can provide fascinating insights and stories about the attraction.

Union Square is a shopping paradise, home to designer stores such as Hermès, Dior, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Louis Vuitton. The area is accessible within a 40-minute walk from the San Francisco port or by tram, cable car, or bus.

A visit to San Francisco would only be complete with a ride on the iconic cable cars. Single fares start from $8, but purchasing tickets in advance is best. For those staying for three days or more, the City Pass offers access to cable cars, buses, and a range of museums and attractions.

Fishermans Wharfs Pier 39

Visitors can also check out the sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf’s Pier 39, explore the historic Alcatraz Island, or stroll around the picturesque Ghirardelli Square.

Alcatraz Island
Ghirardelli Square

Cruise Lines that Dock and Depart from Vancouver

As part of their global itinerary, the Vancouver cruise terminal is home to a fleet of 28 extraordinary cruise lines, ranging from small expedition ships to occasional visitors.

Vancouver’s top contenders for regular summer season cruises are Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Disney Cruise Lines, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Lines (NCL), and Royal Caribbean (RCI). These esteemed cruise lines offer exceptional experiences, unmatched comfort, and world-class amenities to cater to every traveler’s preferences.

ESTA and eTA Travel Permit Requirements

A pre-screening and online travel permit is required for cruisers traveling to Canada or the USA who are not citizens of these countries. This essential process must be completed before embarking on a Vancouver to Alaska cruise. On the other hand, if you are a US citizen or crossing the Canadian border by road or sea (bus, ferry, train, or car), you will only require a passport or acceptable photo ID to participate in the cruise.

Non-US citizens from eligible countries must apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to disembark and enjoy shore excursions in Alaska, as it is part of US territory. This can be applied online and costs US$14, lasting two years.

Furthermore, non-US/Canadian citizens must obtain an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA) if they fly into Canada for their cruise. Residents of eTA-eligible countries can apply online, and the cost of a Canadian eTA is CAN$7, valid for five years or until the expiry of your passport, whichever comes first. It’s important to note that US citizens or those arriving by road or sea are not required to obtain an eTA.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Did you know?

Cruises from Vancouver to San Francisco offer a thrilling blend of stunning natural beauty and urban exploration.

One fun fact is that this journey takes you along the ruggedly enchanting Pacific Coast, where you can spot majestic whales, playful dolphins, and diverse seabirds from the comfort of your cruise ship. The route also passes under the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, providing passengers with a picture-perfect moment as they sail into San Francisco Bay.

Whether you’re savoring fresh Pacific seafood in Astoria or exploring the historic charm of Victoria, these cruises offer a delightful fusion of scenic wonders and coastal culture that make for unforgettable vacation memories.

Author’s Note

Embarking on a cruise from Vancouver to San Francisco is an unparalleled experience that offers a unique ballad of natural beauty, cultural backgrounds, and urban adventures. With an array of exciting attractions in Vancouver and San Francisco, from exploring the Golden Gate Bridge, enjoying a cable car ride, visiting Stanley Park, or taking a stroll around the picturesque Ghirardelli Square, there’s something for every traveler. 

Whether you’re seeking a laid-back vacation or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, cruising from Vancouver to San Francisco is a must-do experience. With multiple reputable cruise lines to choose from and comprehensive travel permit requirements, all you need to do is pack your bags and prepare for an unforgettable journey. So, book your cruise today and prepare to embark on a thrilling adventure!

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