Sitting on the Pacific Ocean, Vancouver's large natural harbor has made it the busiest port in Canada.
Vancouver’s port grew up to supply the logging, fishing and mining industries of British Columbia. Workers and supply ship crews brought back tales of the spectacular scenery to be seen along this northern coastline, and cruises for visitors started in the early 1900s. Alaska remains a major destination with week-long sailings, allowing passengers to see the fjords and sights such as glaciers calving into the sea or whales breaching. However, the hard winters mean the cruise season lasts only from May through September.
By 2000, some one million passengers were passing through the port. This number slumped almost 50 per cent in 2010 when Seattle became a major competitor after a change in U.S. law that had fined any foreign-flagged ships that plied between two US ports (such as Seattle and Anchorage) but it has since bounced back. While Seattle is nearer the important U.S. cruise market, Vancouver offers exclusive access to the calmer Inside Passage between Vancouver Island and the mainland. It is also closer to Alaska, allowing more time at ports such as Anchorage or for sightseeing.
Vancouver has also won awards for customer satisfaction and environmental initiatives, including shore power that allows cruise ships to shut off their engines while in port.