Cruises to Nanaimo

Nanaimo, British Columbia

Take a memorable Alaska cruise adventure to Nanaimo, British Columbia. Strategically located on the east coast of Vancouver Island, Nanaimo serves as an exciting port of call on an Alaskan cruise. As your vessel gently navigates into Nanaimo's well-protected harbor, the city unveils itself in layers of lush, evergreen forests, rugged mountains, and shimmering waters. The welcoming sight of playful seals and soaring eagles embodies the rich marine life and diverse ecosystems the region boasts. Nanaimo's scenic landscape merges the city's urban sophistication with nature's grandeur, promising a memorable stopover for every cruise traveler. Prepare to embark on a delightful exploration of Nanaimo's picturesque outdoors, vibrant culture, and charming cityscape.

Cruise ships dock at Nanaimo's cruise ship terminal, conveniently located in the city center. The harbor is equipped to accommodate even the largest of cruise vessels, ensuring a seamless docking experience. Most cruise ships arrive in the early morning, offering passengers a full day of exploration typically lasting around 8 to 12 hours. Within the harbor complex, you can marvel at the collection of floating shops and restaurants at the unique Harbourfront Walkway. The bustling harbor area is surrounded by a myriad of amenities, including parks, museums, shopping areas, and a thriving arts scene.


With its origins as a coal mining town, modern-day Nanaimo harmoniously blends its rich history with a contemporary vibe. The town's charm manifests in its beautifully preserved heritage buildings, serene parks, and bustling waterfront. Highlights include the historic Old City Quarter, which offers a unique window into Nanaimo's past through its meticulously preserved 19th-century buildings. A visit to the Nanaimo Museum provides a deeper understanding of the town's roots, while the Art Gallery exhibits a rich tapestry of local and national artistic talent. The town also boasts a thriving culinary scene, with eateries serving everything from local seafood to international delicacies.

Immersing yourself in Nanaimo's culture and history is an exploration of indigenous traditions and colonial heritage. The Snuneymuxw First Nation people have called this area home for thousands of years, and their art, customs, and traditions play an integral role in Nanaimo's cultural landscape. The Petroglyph Park exhibits ancient rock carvings, offering an intriguing glimpse into the area's indigenous past. The city's British colonial heritage is evident in the Bastion, a unique octagonal fort built by the Hudson's Bay Company. Special events like the Nanaimo Heritage Festival and Dragon Boat Festival further enhance the cultural richness of this intriguing port of call.

Attractions and Activities

Nanaimo offers a wealth of outdoor activities to indulge in. Visitors can partake in marine excursions, offering sightings of seals, eagles, and perhaps even a rare Orca whale. The region's clear and plentiful waters also make it an ideal spot for fishing, scuba diving, and kayaking. If you prefer land-based pursuits, the area is crisscrossed with hiking and biking trails that pass through breathtaking scenery, including Ammonite Falls and Westwood Lake Park. Adventurous spirits can also try their hand at bungee jumping or zip-lining, offering an adrenaline-pumping perspective of the stunning landscapes.

Local Speciality

Nanaimo's culinary scene is a food lover's delight, marked by the freshness and variety of its offerings. Seafood, naturally, is a local specialty, with salmon, halibut, and Dungeness crab often featured on menus. However, the star of Nanaimo's gastronomy has to be the Nanaimo Bar, a no-bake dessert bar that has achieved legendary status. Local restaurants also serve up dishes influenced by the area's indigenous and British heritage. Pair these with craft brews from local breweries or sip on wines from nearby vineyards for a complete gastronomic experience.

Shopping in Nanaimo is a wonderful opportunity to support local artisans and businesses. Browse through charming boutique shops in the Old City Quarter for unique clothing, jewelry, and home décor items. The Nanaimo Art Gallery's store offers original works and prints from local artists. Local markets like the Nanaimo Downtown Farmers' Market offer locally-produced food items, crafts, and other products. Lastly, don’t forget to pick up a box of Nanaimo Bars from a local bakery to remind you of your visit.

Best time to visit Nanaimo

While Nanaimo can be visited all year round, the summer months from May to September offer the best weather for outdoor activities. The city comes alive during the summer with numerous events and festivals, including the Nanaimo Marine Festival and the World Championship Bathtub Race. The summer months also provide the best opportunities for wildlife viewing. The arrival of spring in March brings with it the Cherry Blossom Festival, while the autumn months offer stunning fall foliage. Winter months, though colder, can still be charming, especially if you enjoy indoor activities or serene, snowy landscapes.

Nanaimo, British Columbia Cruise Schedule 2024

Nanaimo, as a port of call, presents a harmonious blend of natural beauty, cultural richness, and urban charm. Each moment spent here, from the scenic harbor to the historic town, unfolds a new facet of this coastal city's allure. Whether you're tracing the footsteps of indigenous people, embarking on outdoor adventures, or savoring the local delicacies, Nanaimo promises an unforgettable experience. As you sail away, enriched by the city's warm hospitality and diverse offerings, you'll appreciate why Nanaimo is a highlight of any Alaskan cruise. It's more than a stopover – it's a gateway into the heart of Vancouver Island's vibrant culture and majestic landscapes.

Oceania Cruises Alaska 12-day route

12-day Alaska cruise from Seattle

Regatta, Oceania Cruises

Date: August 16, 2024

Ports of Call: Seattle, Inside Passage, Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Hubbard Glacier, Icy Strait, Sitka, Prince Rupert, Inside Passage, Nanaimo, Victoria, Seattle; View Itinerary