Cruise from Vancouver

Here's the great news: If you're headed to Alaska from Vancouver, you don't have to wait until your cruise heads north to experience the brand of awe-inspiring natural beauty you signed up for.

Vancouver is lauded (and lauded often) for being green, stunning and one of the most livable cities in the world—not that the citizens of the British Columbian capital would let such praise go to their sensible, kind heads. They are happy to take in the view of their city and waters from Grouse Mountain. (Remember all the aerial footage from the 2010 Winter Games? That stuff.) They cycle their city's trails. They eat in fine restaurants, featuring food from all over the world with an organic spin. Vancouver is ecotopia, big-city edition. Read on.