Visiting Nanaimo by Cruise Ship

Vancouver Island’s second-largest city is a picturesque oceanfront town with spectacular panoramic mountain views and a busy harbour. Nanaimo (pronounced: Na-nay-mo) BC is centrally located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, 113 km north of Victoria, and 55 km across the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver. The Port of Nanaimo is the gateway to many other destinations both on the northern and southern part of the Island and is therefore known as the “Hub City.” From here, it’s just a short trip by boat, plane, or vehicle to some of the most beautiful spots on the West Coast.

Nanaimo aerial

This harbour city is nestled at the base of Mount Benson, which rises 1,006 metres (3,300 feet) just west of Nanaimo, and facing onto the Strait of Georgia. Its landscape has all the vitality and ruggedness of a Rocky Mountain setting. With fabulous ocean views at every turn, it is easy to understand why close to 87,000 people have chosen to make this island gathering place their home.

And the weather is great as well! Environment Canada consistently recognizes Nanaimo as one of the mildest climate regions in the nation. Nanaimo cruise season begins in April and runs throughout October, which means that those cruising Nanaimo will enjoy warm dry days, made comfortable with a light ocean breeze. Summers on Vancouver Island often extend into October, and cruisers find themselves in t-shirts and shorts for much of this season.

Bathtub racing in Nanaimo

Nanaimo is famous for its love of quirky fun, which truly kicked off in 1967 when a former mayor of Nanaimo famously donned a pirate costume, raised his sword and launched Nanaimo’s first bathtub race, thus being dubbed the “Bathtub Racing Capital of the World.” “Tubbers” and visitors from around the world have been coming to Nanaimo for more than 40 years to take part in this now world famous festival and race.

When stepping out onto the beautiful new Cruise Welcome Centre, visitors will find a warm welcome from spirited and extremely helpful Ambassadors that greet them at every stop along the shuttle bus route.  A variety of transportation options to suit every need are available: from walking the harbour front, to a round trip shuttle to the town centre, to taxis, rental cars, and chartered excursions.

Cruise Welcome Center

Cruisers will delight in discovering amazing historical sites in a city that is full of heritage buildings and interesting stories. The shops of Old City Quarter and local bistros that feature only the freshest local ingredients and seafood offer visitors insights into the island lifestyle that residents cherish.  The Nanaimo museums are packed with artifacts from the city’s coal mining era, and pre-settlement First Nations communities.  Daily cannon firing at the Bastion, the sound of bagpipes and the discovery of the legendary Nanaimo Bar (the creamy, chocolate treat named after our city) quickly immerse cruise passengers into local culture!

Cruise passengers clearly see that Nanaimo offers Infinite Possibilities for adventure!