Martincath thank you so much for this invaluable information.
I am an ex travel agent but my company didn't do Canada and I don't know anyone who had been to Toronto. Funnily enough I had looked at a few hotels and had priced up the Bond Place hotel.
It's been a staple in the 'relative bargain in a convenient place' category for years, including on some package holidays from the UK, so not surprised you found it already.
Regarding food, both of us are well travelled so have tried most food and also realise nothing tastes like food in England but that's the fun in travelling but will take your comments on board.
I wouldn't have mentioned anything if you weren't a Brit - T.O. in general has a great food scene, but there are enough folks of British descent that a lot of restos try to replicate the UK curryhouse experience and just don't do well at it. Actually-authentic Indian stuff, like Dosas and other South Indian food, sure - but just slopping some butter chicken in a metal bowl and calling it Balti, no thanks!!! Toronto has a strong claim to being the most multi-cultural city on the planet - you can get literally every spice and seasoning from every cuisine if you go to the right place (except some illegal stuff, like real haggis!) Example - my first day at work I was chatting with new colleagues, one of whom was Egyptian, and I mentioned enjoying their hibiscus tea but not being able to find the real stuff - boom, next day there was a sack on my desk as it turned out her uncle was the biggest importer of the stuff to Canada! I was constantly finding those sorts of connections from hairdressers, realtors, you name it - most immigrants are generally proud of being (insert country here)-Canadian and welcome others to come celebrate their holidays with them rather than trying to blend into one big 'melting pot' (of course politics gets in the way at times, and Canada certainly has it's share of racism, homophobia etc. but overall I really enjoyed how much every group let other folks join in their fun).
I know that Toronto is not a known cruise port as such but thought fellow cruisers might have been so it was fortuitous that you read my post. I will send your info on to my friend and we can discuss our options. We have done waking tours and tours with locals in the last so are happy to do these and of course we wish to do Niagara Falls so that's ok next mission to plan that.
Lots of day trip options - but if you don't mind driving on the wrong side of the road, a car rental is by far the best way (unless you also plan to hit the wineries around the Niagara area hard of course!) as well as the cheapest. We always preferred winter visits - no tourists and once it drops below freezing the whole area around the falls is like a giant ice sculpture park as water droplets freeze over the trees etc. - but just staying after dark, when the day tour buses have all left, the atmosphere changes even in summer. The lights are also pretty cool, especially when they're doing a show.
In the case of Vancouver, how easy would it be to visit Whistler for the day?
It's certainly easy, again you can book day trips but a car rental offers more flexibility (and it is a truly beautiful drive, and muhc less dangerous since the Olympics - they widened the road, altered the scarier corners, and better-secured the cliff faces so fewer rockfalls now too, and snow tires are not mandated in September). Ballpark 2 hours drive each way if you don't stop, but realistically allow 6 total return to account for stops at waterfalls, scenic viewpoints etc. Whistler itself has virtually nothing to do except outdoors stuff though - now that the big new art gallery opened they have two(!) historic/cultural things (the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre is the other, and it's where I always recommend people have lunch as you can get First Nations food, usually including at least one game dish, for a really reasonable price). The peak-to-peak gondola is impressive if you can handle heights, but it's a town designed from the ground up to get you access to skiing, mountain biking, and hiking then feed you hefty portions of food to replenish those lost calories!
We have 3 full days, plus we land about 10am to give us virtually another day and of course pre Cruise time and then a few hours after the Cruise so long as we can store luggage. I think I read you can leave your luggage at the Cruise Terminal and they will take it to the airport for you but need to double check that also.
Unfortunately the luggage transfer service ended - PorterGenie operates here, so they can pick up your bags and take them anywhere but you need to book specific times to meet their van and it's a lot pricier than just stashing bags at the Pan Pacific bell desk above the pier, so I'd keep it simple and just do that on your last day.
~4 days in total is certainly enough to do a lot of Vancouver stuff, but whether taking one of those days for Whistler is the best use of your time depends very much on you and the kind of things you enjoy most. Some folks spend a day heading to Victoria, others Whistler; our first trip here we had a whole week, so did 5 full days in Vancouver and 1 each Whistler & Victoria and we ended up regretting the Victoria day - it was just too long despite us flying both ways, and the cheaper ferry & bus option makes it almost a 14 hour day from pickup to dropoff if you take a tour bus rather than driving yourself.
Heading up the Sea to Sky was worth it to us though - we hadn't realised how much we missed mountains since moving to Toronto! Whistler itself was distinctly meh, at that point even the SLCC didn't exist so there was literally nothing remotely interesting in the village, but the scenery was outstanding especially on the first half of the trip - Shannon Falls and Britannia Mining Museum were the highlights for us. Assuming the Sea to Sky Gondola reopens as planned next year that's another popular thing on the road you could do, so it's easy to fill a whole day even if you don't actually spend time up in the mountains at Whistler.
Maybe you'd prefer to spend a day out on the water though (whalewatching trips run 3 to 7 hours depending on company used, a water taxi to Bowen Island shows a very different community than the city despite being close enough that folks commute daily for work, a fishing trip on the ocean or Fraser river, and there's a multiplicity of watercraft rentals available from standup paddleboards and kayaks to speedboats and even a floating BBQ), or out on UBCs campus taking in the several outstanding gardens and museums, or doing a couple of foodie (or boozy!) tours in and around the city by foot/bike/bus.
Frankly your biggest problem will be prioritizing among the ludicrous number of options, even if you spend your entire time just within the bounds of what you can walk or take transit to from the Y 😉