Nearly all the cruises that sail north or south to College Fjord begin or end in Vancouver. When the trans-Canada Railway was completed, Vancouver sprang up nearly over night as the railroad's western terminus. Before that it was a sleepy logging village at the mouth of Georgia Strait and the entrance to the magnificent British Columbia Inside Passage. Originally, ships docked at Ballantyne Pier, but since the 1986 World's Fair, most ships sail from the spectacular Canada Place right in the middle of downtown Vancouver. Vancouver is the largest city in western Canada, and one of the most cosmoplitan in the world. Its Chinatown is second only to San Francisco. It is reported to have 365 parks, and spectacular Stanley Park is the center piece of the entire downtown area. The park is huge and includes restaurants, theatres, a world class First Nations totem pole display, an aquarium, wedding chapel, and miles of bike and foot paths. During the summers the park is a literal array of gorgeous flowers; daily it is teaming with residents and tourists alike. To the north of Canada Place passengers view Grouse Mountain with the Capalano Canyon as well as North and West Vancouver. When a ship sails beneath the Lion's Gate Bridge, its journey north has begun. If you're planning an Alaskan cruise, do your best to schedule two or three days in this beautiful city.