Skagway was as far north as we would sail. That evening we cruised the Inside Passage and sailed a full two days before our last port-of-call, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The stop is the obligatory foreign port that all cruise ships must visit at least once during a cruise. Victoria seemed like an afterthought, arriving at 6:00 PM and departing at 11:59 PM, before heading to Seattle. There are still lots of light hours left in the day to go on excursions.
Victoria is the “City of Gardens”. A British fondness for gardening is reflected everywhere, streets lined with bloosoming cherry trees, lawns bordered by rockeries and rose bushes, hanging potted flowers and plants on light poles, and enough public gardens to satisfy any flower aficionado. The garden that most want to see, however, are the world-famous Butchart Gardens. This is the most visited attraction in Victoria, with its’ themed areas, like the Sunken Garden, the Rose Garden, the Japanese Garden, the Italian Garden, and several other areas.
The site of Butchart Gardens is in an old limestone quarry. The gardens were started 107 years ago by the wife of the quarry owner who decided to clean up the mess left by her husband when his cement plant excavated the quarry.
Downtown Victoria offers some of the best browsing and shopping along Government Street where the Victorian era is preserved in chocolate shops, bookstores, tobacconists, tea merchants as well as plenty of souvenir shops. Here you can buy Scottish tweeds and tartans, English bone china, Waterford crystal, and fine Irish linen. Attractions include many world class museums, the Empress Hotel, Beacon Hill Park, Craigdarroch Castle, the British Columbia Legislative Building, Thunderbird Totem Park, as well as many restaurants and brewpubs.
Unfortunately the evening we arrived the wind was blowing at gale force. The flags fluttered at 90 degree angles from the poles. The excursions for whale watching had to be cancelled because of the weather. Many passengers whom ventured out came back to the ship windswept. The guests were greeted by the ships staff with cups of hot chocolate. This was actually customary at all the ports-of-call.
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