Working between the "old reservation system" for reservations up to the end of April, and the new res system for bookings between May - September, has caused a bit of confusion and some lengthy phone waits as Alaska bound travellers try to secure the latest ferry fares.
The hardest hit under the recently increased fare table seem to be the motorcyclists.
In 2015 the cost of taking a motorcycle up the Inside Passage from Bellingham Washington to Haines Alaska on an Alaska ferry has been raised approximately 60%
The good news however is that longer vehicles ( RVs and vehicles over 15' in length) got major reductions.
A truck and trailer (40' combined length) travelling Bellingham to Whittier this spring was approximately $400.00 dollars more than that same trip will cost this summer.
BC Ferry Queen of Chilliwack
BC Ferries serving 47 communities along the west coast is both one the largest & best operated ferry systems in the world.
Constantly maintaining and upgrading their fleet of 35 vessels, September 2015 saw the sale of the Queen of Chilliwack (renamed the Lomaiviti Princess) to an retired BC Ferry engineer who now owns an Inter-island ferry service in Fiji.
With the limited market for used ferries every sale contributes to a ferry companies coffers and recaptures dollars for overhauls and new vessels
Two more ships, the Queen of Burnaby and the Queen of Nanaimo are slated to go up for sale within the next 6 months.
3 new ships are on order and delivery is expected within the year.
Alaska Marine Vessel MV Tustumina
The Jan. 11 cross-gulf sailing between Homer and Juneau has been delayed approximately 24 hours.
Severe weather in the Gulf of Alaska at this time of year often results is ferry delays so please call the terminal to check bookings.
The estimated arrival time in Juneau from Homer is now Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 23:45 p.m.
Homer Terminal phone: 907-235-8449
Rising Ferry Fares
Alaska Marine released their summer tariffs today and the fare increases are both complicated and substantial.
Roughly, but depending on routes chosen, travellers will now pay up to 21% more to transport their vehicles on the Alaska ferries and passengers on many routes are looking at +13% more than last week.
Cabins costs are up by route and the cost to take your pet on your ferry trip has also gone up.
Summer 2016 booking waitlists are being filled today and new bookings can be made by calling 1-800-686-0446 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
The waitlists are growing but it is hoped that the 2016 Alaska ferry fares and schedules for the upcoming summer will be released Monday 11 of January as predicted by the Alaska Marine management.
Severe Alaska Marine budget cutbacks combined with the controversy over proposed decreases in some 2016 ferry schedule frequencies, has resulted in the summer release date suffering delay after delay.
Unlike other ferry systems, Alaska Marine did not raise its rates for a number of years and is now working to try and ensure fares are more realistic and cover a greater portion of the actual cost of travel.
It is anticipated that with the release of the Summer 2016 Alaska schedules, another fare increase may occur.
On 01 January 2016 in a surprise move and effective that day, Alaska Marine implemented fare increases to their already published Spring schedules.
The fare increase was necessary but without any advance notice, was totally unexpected and unplanned for by either the traveling public or tour/travel operators.
Historically the summer schedules & fares for the Alaska ferries operating May thru September have been released in October/November of the year prior, thereby enabling holidaying visitors / residents to take advantage of the advance booking discounts and special fares provided by the major International airlines.
BC Ferries Queen of Burnaby
BC ferries has announced that the Queen of Burnaby (currently in drydock until 31 Jan) is to be replaced at the end of 2016 with a new ship currently under construction in Poland.
The new vessel scheduled to provide service between Powell River & Comox is one of three vessels able to operate on either diesel or LNG that BC Ferries is currently building in Poland.
The two other new BC ferries will operate between the Southern Gulf Islands and Vancouvers' Tsawwassen terminal.
Alaska Marine vessel MV Tustumena
Alaska ferry service between Homer & Kodiak Island is expected to resume today 09 January 2016.
Scheduled ferry service on the MV Tustumena was cancelled on Jan 07 & 08 due to severe weather.
A call to the Homer terminal at 907-238-8449 to confirm todays sailing is on time is recommended.
BC Ferries North Island Princess
A leaking propeller seal has caused Powell Rivers' Queen of Burnaby service to be temporarily replaced as of Jan 05, 2016, with the smaller North Island Princess.
The repair time for the aging Queen of Burnaby is expected to be about 3 weeks.
On January 01, Alaska Marine raised their currently published spring rates by 5%.
The rate increase on spring travel (and which applies to vehicles, cabins and passengers travelling on the Alaska ferries) was unexpected, but is effectively immediately.
The Summer 2016 Alaska ferry schedules ( May thru September) have still not been confirmed but the latest word is that they will be released around 11 January.
The big question is whether Alaska Marine will implement another raise in their rates for May-September ferry travel; and if so, by how much?
Alaska Ferry schedules for the May - September 2016 period have once again been delayed as discussion on how to best serve the smaller communities on reduced budgets, continues.
The latest release date is expected to be mid-January.
The ramification of the delayed schedules has been both general frustration and missed early airline booking discounts.
December 18 will see the start of increased ferry sailings on the 3 BC Ferry major routes: Tsawwassen - Nanaimo ( at Duke Point ); Tsawwassen - Victoria ( at Swartz Bay) and Horseshoe Bay ( West Vancouver - Nanaimo ( at Departure Bay )
Christmas & New Years Day ferry sailings will be reduced as historically demand for sailings on those day is reduced
Demand for space will be heavy so reservations are recommended or extra early arrival if going stand-by
BC Ferry Vessel Spirit of Vancouver Island
Cancellations continue as another winter storm lashes the west coast.
Heavy winds and rain combined to make for unhappy ferry travellers as delays and cancellations put a crimp in holiday travel.
While the storms play havoc on the waters they have however been great news for skiers as the local mountains continue receiving fresh snow.
In the past 24 hrs Cypress Mountain received about 75 cm, Grouse Mountain 43 cm and Whistler Mountain 42 cm.
On Vancouver Island Mt Washington is also enjoying the results of fresh snow.
BC Ferries have cancelled a number of sailings today as a result of heavy winds and rough waters.
To get the latest ferry information, or to confirm a BC ferry reservation - call 1-888-223-3779
The wait continues for the release of the May- September Alaska Ferry schedules and fares with December 17 being noted as the latest anticipated release date.
It is worth knowing that Alaska bound travellers who know approximately when they wish to use the 2016 ferry/ ferries have been emailing / phoning in their booking requests since October.
Waitlists that address travellers ferry requests are already significant and will be filled on a "first come" bases.
If planning travel during the May-September period it is important to note that because the summer sailing will be less frequent than in 2015, travellers should not wait longer than necessary to make advance space requests.
For more information on Alaska ferry bookings and getting onto the waitlist call 1-800-686-0446 or email email@example.com
BC Ferries travellers should check with their intended departure terminal to ensure the ferries are running on time while the inclement winter weather continues.
Fierce winds and heavy rains are expected in B.C. as the back-to-back storms are predicted to cause disruptions over the next few days
Salish Orca & Salish Eagle - BC Ferries newest ferries being built to replace the Queen of Nanaimo and the Queen of Burnaby are expected to go into service in 2017 for the Gulf Islands over the next 2 years.
The intermediate vessels will be capable of running as dual-fuel on either liquefied natural gas (LNG) or ultra-low Sulphur diesel & will augment peak & shoulder season Gulf Island service.
BC Ferries have imposed a lifetime traveling ban on the man who recently released a lifeboat & then jumped into Active Pass from a moving BC Ferry.
The unidentified man was found a short time later, when he turned up nude and dripping wet after breaking into a home on Galiano Island.
Travel round-trip Victoria to Seattle on the ferry in November & stay 2 nights in a deluxe room at the Warwick Hotel in downtown Seattle
Shop, visit SAM (Seattle Art Museum), enjoy the Pacific Northwest Ballet as they perform Emergence, see The Sound of Music at the 5th Avenue Theatre or take a Seattle Lakes Lunch Cruise travelling Lake Union and Lake Washington.
Clipper package prices are USD & are based on double occupancy.
Valid passports are required & a fuel surcharge/security fee may be added to all Victoria/Seattle Fares
The delay is reported to result from an attempt to ensure that unlike in summer 2015, the published schedules will be maintained.
Sarah Leonard, the Alaska Travel Association President noted that 33% of her 700 member businesses are in ferry ports and that ..“The changes to the schedule last summer resulted in a 14 percent decline in non-resident travel on the ferry."
Members reported that thousands of dollars in business were lost due to ferry rebookings and cancellations.
Transportation Department Deputy Commissioner Mike Neussl noted that everything depends on legislative funding but promised to do his best to ensure the upcoming schedule will be funded & locked in.
04 November: BC Ferry Passenger Deploys Lifeboat
The MV Coastal Celebration en route from Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay was stopped in Active Pass at around 9:30pm last night as a passenger released and jumped into one of the vessels' lifeboats.
Passengers reported that a man in his 20s
activated one of the ferry’s life-rafts and jumped into it.
Rescue boats from both the Coastal Celebration and the Spirit of BC were deployed and the suspect was later discovered on Galiano Island.
He was transferred to the Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria for assessment.