SAMPLE PACIFIC PORTS
Princess Cruises (www.princess.com) has announced a series of West Coast sampler sailings for 2008-09, ranging from overnight to a week. These cruises offer travelers the chance to experience the service aboard Princess' amenity-filled vessels while exploring the Pacific coastline of North America.
Departure dates next fall include September 20, for a "British Columbia and West Coast Coastal" trip from Vancouver to Los Angeles, calling at Victoria, San Francisco, Catalina Island and San Diego. Princess' spring itineraries include a four-night cruise from Los Angeles to Vancouver departing May 7, with a stop in Victoria, and a weeklong "Wine Country Coastal" sailing from Los Angeles to Vancouver that embarks May 9 and visits Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Astoria (OR), Seattle and Victoria. Guests on this special cruise can visit vineyards and taste their wines. For more information, call 800-544-9032.
Spotlights Wine Islands
British Columbia's Wine Islands, the fastest-growing wine region in Canada, are featured by Vine Seekers (www.vineseekers.com), a new company. Its guided tours out of Victoria include "Vine Seekers," which visits vineyards; "Trail Seekers," where travelers explore the local landscape and cuisine; and "Wave Seekers," an opportunity to experience the islands by boat. The company also offers walking and boat tours around Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands. Tours are available to a minimum of two guests and a maximum of 12 people and include transportation and a gourmet picnic prepared with local foods from around Victoria and Vancouver Island. Custom trips for larger groups are also available. For more information, contact Bruce Cooke-Dallin at [email protected] or 250-710-4412.
In order to show visitors another side of British Columbia's capital, the city of Victoria (right) has created a series of self-guided walking tours titled Secrets of the City. The themes are "Happy Hauntings," where walkers discover why Victoria is known as "the most haunted city in the Pacific Northwest"; "Forbidden City," taking visitors to Canada's first Chinatown; "Law & Disorder," focusing on stories of lawmen and criminals who were involved in robbery, murder and deadly lovers' triangles; and "Fools Rush In," showcasing the Gold Rush era. Free walking maps are available at Tourism Victoria's Visitor Center or online at www.victoria.ca/tours.
GRAY LINE'S BUTCHART TOUR IS PRINCESS' TOP SHORE EXCURSION
Gray Line West's (www.graylinewest.com) tour to the Butchart Gardens (www.butchartgardens.com) in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia, was named Princess Cruises' Shore Excursion of the Season. This annual award is based on passenger feedback and given to tour operators in the Alaskan and Canadian ports where Princess operates. The Butchart Gardens, a National Historic Site, welcomes passengers from many of the 100-plus cruise ships that enter the Port of Victoria every May through October. Close to one million people from around the world annually visit the 55-acre botanical gardens, which originated over 100 years ago with plantings in a vacated limestone quarry. For more information, e-mail [email protected] or call 800-667-0882.