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Prince Rupert (Photo:Serjio74/Shutterstock)
Prince Rupert (Photo:Serjio74/Shutterstock)
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Port of Prince Rupert

The port city of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada, is actually on an island at the mouth of the Skeena River, just 40 miles south of the Alaska border and 65 miles south of Ketchikan. Its name was decided in a nationwide contest at the time of its incorporation in 1910, but plans for the city to rival the Port of Vancouver, some 550 miles south, have never been realized.

Shore Excursions

About Prince Rupert


Pro

Prince Rupert has a rich First Nations culture and the most humpback whales in North America

Con

Because you're crossing into Canada, be sure to have your passport and CAD

Bottom Line

A British Columbian island just south of Alaska, Prince Rupert blends wildlife with coffee shops


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Arriving into port by ship is breathtaking, as you skirt hundreds of islands and make your way through narrow, mist-shrouded passageways to this town of 16,000 residents. And, because of its moderate climate and mists, it is not unusual to see several rainbows a day, including double and triple rainbows that span the entire horizon.

The natural landscape provides most of the draw for this locale, but it also has a history as one of the oldest continuously occupied regions in the world, with a First Nations culture that dates back over 10,000 years. In fact, the area surrounding Prince Rupert was at one time one of the most densely populated regions north of Mexico. The Tsimshian Nation's sites and archeological artifacts are available to visitors touring here, and there is a museum dedicated to the First Nations peoples.

If it's wildlife you seek, Prince Rupert is a dream location, home to Canada's only Grizzly Bear Sanctuary, the highest concentration of humpbacked whales in North America, white Kermode bears and soaring eagles. Your visit will leave you with a greater appreciation for the interaction between man and the natural world.

Top Prince Rupert Itineraries

Where You're Docked

Cruise ships arrive at the new Northland Terminal in downtown Prince Rupert. There is a small customs and immigration center and an adjacent visitor's center. Many of the tours that require boats leave from the Atlin Terminal just adjacent to the cruise ship dock as well.

Port Facilities

There are several coffee shops and cafes in the district around the cruise dock, and Cow Bay, an area of cute shops painted in black and white cow spots, is just a 10-minute walk away. The visitor's center has an array of guidebooks and tourist information. The walk up the hill to the downtown area takes approximately 10 minutes. Grocery and sundry stores are open seven days a week.

Getting Around

Those who choose to wander around Prince Rupert itself can do so on foot. There are several car rental agencies not far from the dock, and tour buses are available on the pier apron for those taking pre-arranged tours. There is also a municipal bus system which you can take for rides around the city. Those looking for a realtively cheap and versatile mode of transportation during the summer months can rent a scooter at the lot adjacent to the dock. Bicycle rentals are available from nearby Farwest Sports (212 Third Ave. W., 250-624-2568).

Food and Drink

For an elegant outing, the Waterfront Restaurant in the Crest Hotel (222 West 1st Ave, 1-800-663-8150) offers British Columbia cuisine on the waterfront.

Cow Bay Cafe (205 Cow Bay Rd., 250-627-1212) serves lunch and dinner in a casual waterfront location. The menu changes twice daily with a focus on international cuisine, including excellent seafood and vegetarian entrees (with delicious desserts). Dinner reservations recommended.

Cowpuccino's Coffee House (25 Cow Bay Road, 250-624-6090) is known for its homemade soups and sandwiches plus coffees, ice cream and muffins, all made on the premises.

If you've had it with cruise-ship cuisine and want something different, try the Vietnamese offerings at Herbie's Family Restaurant (679 2nd Ave. W., 250-624-3965). And if you are there early enough, try the $2.99 (CAD) breakfast special, which equates to about $2 USD.

Smiles Seafood Cafe (113 Cow Bay Road, 250-624-3072) started out as a taxi stand and became a restaurant in 1934 -- and it still serves great seafood at reasonable prices ... with a smile.

Shopping

Any of the carvings or original jewelry created by the local First Nations artisans in the area, most especially an item carved from argillite, a slate-like stone indigenous to the Prince Rupert and Queen Charlotte Islands regions which -- by law -- can only be carved by the people of the Haida nation.