Where Are We Going?
Wednesday, October 5 - VANCOUVER, CANADA
Boasting mountains, sea, culture, art, and so much more, many cities claim to have it all, but few can back it up like Vancouver. Famously livable, just visiting this highrise city - surrounded by staggering natural beauty - is a thrill. Offering all of the creature comforts of an ultra-modern, worldly metropolis - even downtown has a hint of mountain-freshness to its air - and part of Vancouver's appeal is how easily you can swap the skyscrapers for whale-filled oceans and mountain-punctured skies. Head up to the Vancouver Lookout Tower for the ultimate 360-degree views of the city glistening amid the beautiful embrace of the beckoning wilderness beyond. But what to see first? Art lovers might choose the Vancouver Art Gallery or the Contemporary Art Gallery. Nature lovers might rush for the ferry to visit Vancouver Island, where they can encounter grizzly bears, whales, and orcas. Culture vultures, on the other hand, will probably head for the sights and sounds of Canada's biggest Chinatown. From steaming dim sum for lunch to Chinese apothecaries offering herbs to soothe any illness, it's all here thanks to the migrant workers of the 19th century. The one-of-a-kind treasure of Stanley Park brings wild wonder and natural beauty to this cosmopolitan city's doorstep, and the pine-tree-clad park offers isolated trails and amazing views. Wander the Seawall that encircles it - a 20-mile coastal path, full of joggers, whizzing skaters, and wandering couples. Grab a bike and cycle between Coal Harbour and Kitsilano Beach. You can top up your tan on the shore as you soak in the glorious views of the mountains and cityscape from the sands.
Thursday, October 6 - VICTORIA, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Set on the southern tip of Vancouver Island (although nowhere near Vancouver the city), Victoria (the city) is nowhere near Victoria Island. Confused? Victoria may be Vancouver's smaller sister in size, but what it lacks in bright light big-city bustle is more than made up for by its fantastic foodie scene, historical background, and glorious natural surroundings. What's more, stop any local and you'll find a charming population, full of friendliness and pride in their city. Easily walkable, Victoria is full of blooming gardens, coastal paths, engaging museums, and beautifully restored 19th-century architecture. Pods of friendly whales have been known to visit the harbor, attracted by the fertile waters. Three resident pods of Orcas live in the nearby Puget Sound, Gulf, and the San Juan Islands. Nothing beats the feeling of standing on the viewing deck, binoculars in hand, listening to the eerie communication of the beautiful black and white beasts. Discovered by Captain James Cook in the 18th century, Victoria - and Vancouver Island - had long been home to many indigenous families. The city retains its roots in its First Nation culture, thousands of examples of which can be found in the spectacular collection housed at The Royal BC Museum. People flocked to the area after gold was discovered in 1858, bringing adventurers from as far afield as Australia. This diversity of population was further cemented in the 19th century when thousands of migrant workers were brought in to build the railway.
4 Included Shore Excursions:
Friday, October 7 - SEATTLE, WASHINGTON
Even if you think you know Seattle, we guarantee that by your next visit, the city will have changed. Because that is the nature of Seattle, always marching unashamedly toward the future. This is the city that gave us Starbucks, Nirvana, and Fraser (plus numerous other celebrities from music legends to retail giants). It's a city that knows how to surf the next wave with aplomb and grace. It is the city of the future. That is not to say that it doesn't treat its past with respect. Settled by five pioneer families in 1851, the town quickly grew after the Northern Railway was extended to meet the coast in 1893. The Gold Rush of 1897 sealed the city as one of the great places on the west coast. The history of the city's 100 Mercer who deemed the city had a shortage of marriageable women - is just one of the quirky facts that make Seattle impossible not to love. Seattle is the largest city in the state of Washington, yet there is a village vibe that is uncommon in metropolises. If you truly want to enjoy the unique hybrid of tradition and progression, then take a tour of Pike Place, Seattle's famous farmer's market. This was where the term "locavore" was coined, and local producer-customer meetings are not only commonplace but are encouraged. Go hungry as the huge indoor market is laden with tasty options of food options, from fresh vegetables and fruit to prepared food that can be eaten whilst enjoying a great view of the bay.
5 Included Shore Excursions:
Saturday, October 8 - DAY AT SEA
Sunday, October 9 - PORTLAND, OREGON (Overnight)
Portland, Oregon's largest city is located at the emergence of the Williamette and Columbia Rivers. Two groups of indigenous Chinook peoples inhabited this area long before American pioneers started arriving in the 1800s. Once the Oregon Trail, a 2,170-mile historic east-west, large-wheeled wagon route connecting Oregon to the Missouri River, opened in the 1830s, large numbers of settlers started arriving. Portland's original name was "Stumptown" because so many trees had been cut down to allow for development. Two men owned the land - Asa Lovejoy of Boston, Massachusetts, and Frances W. Pettygrove of Portland, Maine. They decided to rename it but disagreed about the new name. They wanted to name it after their respective hometowns, so they settled this disagreement with a coin toss, which Pettygrove won. Today, Portland is ranked the 26th most populous city in the United States and is especially known for all its bridges, many of which are historic landmarks.
5 Included Shore Excursions:
Monday, October 10 - PORTLAND, OREGON
4 Included Shore Excursions:
Tuesday, October 11 - DAY AT SEA
Wednesday, October 12 - SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA (Overnight)
With its spectacular bay, iconic bridge, and contagious energy, the question is more about what isn't there to do in San Francisco rather than what is? It's the city with a little bit of everything - hippie havens, digital geniuses, oodles of American history, and course, Alcatraz. There is a hot arts scene, cool restaurant culture and style, substance, and sass in spades. It's no wonder Tony Bennet left his heart there all those years ago. At just seven miles by seven miles, the city might be tiny, but its impact is huge. This is where the Gold Rush pioneers came, where the hippie movement began, where start-ups went from conception to creation, and where tolerance became not a word but a way of life. Add in some heavyweight landmarks such as Fisherman's Warf, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz island, and you argue that SF (never San Fran) is possibly the best city in America. With its privileged setting on a spectacular bay and myriad of hills, SF is no stranger to natural beauty. In just one day, you can hike along coastal paths that go from Mexico to Oregon along the Pacific Ocean, climb rocky cliffs that stretch up into the enigmatic fog, and stroll sandy beaches that are as challenging as they are spectacular. A quick change of scenery takes you downtown to golden age Art Deco palaces, Chinatown's lantern-strung streets, and fantastic city views from the Hamon Observation Tower. Hop on the ferry from Pier 33 to Alcatraz for some modern history and you, too, will leave your heart in SF.
5 Included Shore Excursions:
Thursday, October 13 - SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
6 Included Shore Excursions:
Friday, October 14 - DAY AT SEA
Saturday, October 15 - SANTA BARBARA
With its Hispanic style, colonial buildings, and lovely weather, Santa Barbara will remind you of the beauty of Southern Europe near the Mediterranean. Unlike the other cities of the West Coat, SB has kept its old charm. Facing the immensity of the Pacific Ocean, the city was founded in 1782 around a Spanish fortress. Mexican and then American since 1848, the city still possesses its strong Spanish influence and ambiance. One particular landmark is the living proof of this: the Santa Barbara County Courthouse. An impression of travel in time awaits you there with its wonderful Andalusian-inspired architecture, even if its construction only dates back to 1929. A climb to the clock tower offers you a breathtaking 360-degree panorama of SB and its surroundings. The Mission Santa Barbara, another architectural jewel of the city founded by the Franciscans in 1786, is worth a visit too. Stop time and discover the beautiful church and the stunning rose garden with a view of the Santa Ynez Mountains. With its almost year-round sunshine, beautiful beaches, and palm-lined waterfront, that's no wonder people also call the city the 'American Riviera'. Santa Barbara also means art and culture with many museums and theaters. Notably Wharf, a wooden pontoon advancing towards the ocean. Many Hollywood celebrities have been seduced by SB's authentic charm and own splendid villas there. Just like them, let the dulce Vida invade you and stroll through the charming streets of the city center. With its fancy boutiques, you'll love the pretty outdoor shopping mall Paseo Nuevo Sea, sun, and beauty; SB is without a doubt, one of the jewels of the Golden State.
Sunday, October 16 - SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Attention all sun, sea, and surf lovers! Welcome to the place that considers those three words the only three little words worth saying. This is where the vibe is cool, the living is easy, and weekends are spent worshipping the holy trinity beachside. The southernmost city in California, San Diego borders Mexico, which gives the place a slightly transient feel, although as America's eighth-largest city, it is anything but. Made up of little neighbourhoods, each has its personality, which gives a blended family feel. There's Mission Beach, Little Italy, the Gaslamp Quarter, and Downtown - all in all, 17 neighbourhoods range from quirky to cool, resulting in a city that is much more than a sum of its parts. European settlers arrived in the mid-18th century, although Iberian explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claims to have discovered San Diego Bay in 1542, 200 years previously. Regardless of when the Europeans arrived, there is proof that Native Americans populated the land 12,000 years before, and a trip to the San Diego History Centre is both educational and inspiring. The town became part of the United States of America in 1848 (it had been under Mexican rule before that) and since then has carved out a niche for being "America's finest city", a moniker that you'll see everywhere from t-shirts to bumper stickers. If it feels familiar, that's because it is. Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis and Marilyn Monroe filmed Some Like It Hot here and the city's slightly worn around, but ever so glamourous feel has remained.