Increased airport traffic headed to the Gulf Islands & Vancouver Island have resulted in numerous questions about which services are offered to take passengers to the ferry terminals at both Tsawwassen (30km)and at Horseshoe Bay.
The Tsawwassen ferry terminal is the departure point for the ferries to both the northern and southern gulf Islands, as well as to Victoria at Swartz Bay and Duke Point Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
From Vancouver International Airport (YVR) there are two shuttle bus operators providing dedicated service to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal.
Skylynx operates a 50 minute shuttle 4x a day at a cost starting at $60 and the Wilson Group provides the same service 2x a day service.
Taxis & Ubers provide a faster ( approx 30 minutes) and more flexible time alternative service: Taxi at a cost of between $65-$80 or Uberat a cost of about $43
To travel from YVR to the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal for the sailing to Nanaimo at Departure Bay is a bit more costly.
A Taxi taking about 40 minutes would run approximately $75-95.00
A lesser cost but more complicated route, would be to take a combination of the skytrain from YVR to downtown Vancouver and from there an express bus to the Horseshoe Bay ferry Terminal.
Help for land transportation to either ferry terminal is available at the YVR Information desk.
Ferry Delays & Cancellations
Crew Shortages Continue to Disrupt Ferry Services
Since Covid-19 ferry companies in both BC & Alaska have been plagued by a shortage of crew.
In 2022 the route between Ketchikan & Port Hardy and the only International ferry connection between Alaska and British Columbia was cancelled for the complete year due to a shortage of crew.
To ferry Port Hardy to Ketchikan takes about 5 hours and with an average cost of around $500 for a standard car and driver, the route was not only affordable, but enabled visitors with limited time to spend only a day or two if desired, in Alaska.
The only alternative to entering the 49th State by sea was, and continues to be, the 2 day ferry from Bellingham to Ketchikan at a considerably greater cost.
BC Ferries has suffered the same crew shortage fate.
Tempers flare as angry passengers are delayed or stranded as sailing after sailing is unexpectedly cancelled due to crew shortages.
Common BC Ferry Reservation Questions
Impact On Reserved Passengers Resulting from An Unexpected Ferry Cancellation
When a sailing is unexpectedly cancelled, whether due to a shortage of crew, a mechanical issue or inclement weather, passengers with reservation on the cancelled sailing will be loaded on the next available sailing but AFTER those passengers booked on the following sailing.
If booked on a 9:00 sailing which is unexpectedly cancelled, reservation holding travellers will be loaded on the next sailing after those who have reserved the 10:00 sailing but prior to those with no reservation.
Imagine A Cruise for Under $100 per person
Seattle to Victoria On the Ferry Is A Mini-Cruise
Travelling through the Strait of Juan de Fuca - defined as a channel and renamed the Salish Sea in 2008, the high-speed catamaran makes the journey between Victoria and Seattle almost every day, year-round.
The ferry carries just over 500 passengers & completes the crossing (at an average speed of 36 knots) in just under 3 hours.
A limited number of discounted tickets (non changeable, non cancellable & non refundable ) can often be purchased by calling 1-800-686-0446 well ahead of a desired travel date -but a standard ticket, including port taxes, fuel charges etc can be had for around $96 per person by clicking on www.ferrytravel.comor emailing email@example.com.
On landing in Victoria there is plenty to see and do.
Numerous attractions like Butchart Gardens, the Royal Provincial Museum, fabulous shopping shopping - are all particularly enticing for visitors using the strong US dollar.
On travelling to Seattle, the ferry lands at Pier 69 in Elliott Bay.
The Seattle Aquarium, wonderful seafood restaurants, the famous Pike Place Market and SAM ( Seattle Art Museum) are all only a short walk from the pier.
Absolutely do not miss the stunning Chihuly Garden & Glass Museum located on Harrison Ave in the Seattle centre.
With numerous whale sightings - humpbacks near the Straits western end, the resident pod of easily recognizable black and white killer whales everywhere, and on occasion if you're lucky, the Gray whales who use the waterway to rest- this ferry trip is really a mini cruise.
Trouble for Nanaimo's Newest Passenger Ferry Hullo
Hullo Experiences Mechanical Issues
For many, many years various companies have tried to launch a reliable passenger ferry service from downtown Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver.
Commuter demand is there, but whether it has been the ships used, the fares charged, or the schedules chosen, every effort by every new ferry operator has experienced difficulties in keeping any service running.
In the last 10 years there have been 3 or 4 enthusiastic attempts to build the service - but to date, no successes.
As their slogan says, ".. Hullo is the newest kid on the dock.." & although launched only about 3 months ago, the operator has already cancelled this weekends' sailings due to damage sustained during the high winds experienced along the coast earlier this week .
Although passengers expecting to use Hullos' Nanaimo to Vancouver service this weekend will be given full refunds, the bottom line is that alternate transportation between the two cities must now be rearranged.
Service reliability has always been the issue for those seeking to make this route viable, but with luck and a good measure of hope, Hullo will be able to put their 2nd high speed ferry into service quickly so that cancellations are only a memory, and the option for a viable alternate to BC Ferries will become a reality.
Alaska Ferry Interruption Update
Accommodating Juneau - Sitka Passangers
To accommodate those passengers scheduled to travel between Juneau & Sitka but inconvenienced when the MV Columbia was unexpectedly pulled from service, there will be a sailing departing Juneau on Nov 16 at 5:00am with a scheduled arrival of 2:00pm in Sitka
The LeConte will then depart Sitka for a return to Juneau Nov 16 at 5:00 pm and is scheduled to arrive at 2:00 am
Freedom Is Never Free
Take Time To Be Thankful
Below is a meme making the rounds on social media:
A veteran, - whether active duty, discharged, retired or reserve - is someone who at some point in their life, wrote a blank check made payable to .. "save freedom" ... for an amount up to and including, their life.
No one truly expects to die or be maimed on the battlefield - but every soldier has an awareness that it might happen.
On this one day let's take a moment to think of, and be thankful for those men & women around the globe who, both in the past and currently, are fighting to combat tyranny & oppression so as to insure the best possible life for the rest of us.
Ferry Prince Rupert to Ketchikan Alaska
US Canada Ferry Will Return to Service
Chatter about the permanent closure of the Alaska ferry terminal in Prince Rupert has apparently no basis in fact reports the Alaska Department of Transportation.
The ferry service was withdrawn in 2023 and the explanation provided by Alaska Marine is that this was only a temporarily measure while the MV Matanuska went through an assessment of her hull.
Speculation about the continuation of the popular 5hr Prince Rupert to Ketchikan ferry route has now been a hot topic for over a year.
Historically the MV Matunuska travelled between Ketchikan Alaska & Prince Rupert in British Columbia twice a week & retired Governor Murkowski reported that the ferry connecting the two ports once carried over 1/4 million passengers annually.
Over the last number of years ferry service throughout the marine system has been cut or delayed as tired ships take longer to come out of dry dock & older ship experience unexpected mechanical issues.
These issues have a Catch 22 effect as a lack of reliability erodes potential passenger confidence and fewer visitor travellers to Alaska mean less system revenue. Less revenue means service cuts and delays for ship repairs and replacements.
These issues combined with the once widespread global promotion of the beauty experienced while riding an Alaska ferry which was severely diminished when the marketing department severed ties with travel agents, tour & travel advisors and trade shows, has contributed to the ferry systems woes.
While the number of visitors using the ferries in Alaska may one day return, it will only be with the support of Alaska Marines marketing department in working to both rebuild those trade relationships & encourage the releasing of the ferry systems' seasonal schedules in a more timely manor.
Once done, travel professionals around the globe will again be encouraged to promote Alaska ferry travel in the same breath as cruise ship travel.
And when that happens, the Alaska Marine revenues rise, ship repairs and replacements proceed in a timely fashion, and visitor related businesses in Alaska are once again not only profitable, but lucrative.
Poor Weather causes Ferry Cancellations
BC Ferry Sailing Revisions For 10 November
Rough Seas and heavy winds have caused BC Ferries to cancel / revise the following sailings.
November 10 Revisions
Vancouver -Vancouver Island- Revised for 10 Nov
Now Departing Horseshoe Bay
Departing Departure Bay
Vancouver - Sunshine CoastRevised for 10 Nov
Now Departing Horseshoe Bay
Now Departing Langdale
November 10 Cancellations
Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) to Departure Bay (Nanaimo) 8:05 pm ferrycancelled 10:10 pm ferry cancelled
Departure Bay (Nanaimo) to Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) 8:45 pm ferry cancelled 10:10 pm ferry cancelled
Tsawwassen (Vancouver) to Duke Point (Nanaimo)
8:15 pm ferrycancelled 10:45 pm ferry cancelled
Duke Point (Nanaimo) -Tsawwassen (Vancouver)
8:15 pm ferrycancelled 10:45 pm ferry cancelled
Tsawwassen (Vancouver) to Swartz Bay (Victoria)
7:00 pm ferrycancelled
9:00 pm ferry cancelled
10:30 pm ferrycancelled Swartz Bay (Victoria) to Tsawwassen (Vancouver)
7:00 pm ferrycancelled
9:00 pm ferry cancelled
10:30 pm ferrycancelled
For updated information call 1-888-223-3779
Quick Guide For Nov - Dec Bellingham Ferry Sailings
Northbound Ferries From Bellingham
November sailing dates
Before going out of service until 2024, the MV Columbia will depart Bellingham at 5 PM:
November 15, 22 and 29th.
Commencing in Ketchikan, the MV Kennicott will replace the Columbia Bellingham service with ferry sailings on:
December 20 & 27th. ( Note the 2 week gap )
For 2024, the Kennicott will depart from Bellingham:
Alaska Ferry Services Departing Washington Take December Break
Plan Holiday Ferry Travel Early To Avoid Disappointment
Over the December period there will be some major Alaska ferry service changes as the Columbia is taken out of service and is replaced 2 weeks later with the MV Kennicott
It is important to book travel early as the 2 week gap between the 29th of Nov ferry sailing and the 20th of Dec ferry sailing, occurs just as people start their holiday travels.
During that 2 week period there will be no ferry service to the islands located along the Inside Passage.
If necessary to get a vehicle to one of the islands during that time frame, or to get into Alaska without travelling through Canada, call 1-800-686-0446 to arrange barge service.
On November 11th the Columbia will return from its' short dry dock stay to provide service north from Bellingham to Skagway before returning south.
After her last run on November 29, she will be from taken out of service until the summer of 2024.
The MV Kennicott will step in to provide the necessary passenger / vehicle ferry service necessary to residents and visitors from Bellingham to the Islands of Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka & Juneau, but again, she will not commence service until 20 December.
Travellers to Haines, Skagway, Denali, Homer, Anchorage, Fairbanks etc. need to be aware that the cross- gulf ferry (Bellingham to Whittier through Juneau) will not begin service until March 2024.
Travellers have the option of using the year-round AlCan Hwy to access Alaska but it should be noted that passports are required for everyone 18 yrs and older as the AlCan Hwy travels through Canada.
For more information on the Alaska ferry schedule / vessel changes, call 1-800-686-0448 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Largest Ferry in the Fleet Returns To Service
MV Columbia To Return To Service
The largest ship in Alaskas' fleet of ferries is expected to return to service commencing November 08, 2023.
The Columbia was pulled from service on her return to Bellingham November 01 after experiencing an unexpected mechanical issue.
Once resolved the ferry is scheduled to resume her normal service up the Inside Passage through Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Skagway before making the return trip to her Washington home.
The Columbia measures just under 420 feet and her passengers have an opportunity to photograph the spectacular coastal scenery all while enjoying the ships' numerous amenities.
This ferry offers travellers a dining room, cafe, a very popular heated solarium where people happily pitch their tents under the stars, a movie & observation lounges, coin operated lockers and for those who may have been travelling for some time, much appreciated laundry facilities.
Travel Safe & Smart
Helpful Ideas to Maximize A Positive Ferry Experience
1) Always check with the departure terminal to ensure the desired ferry is departing on time.
2) During the winter months sailing conditions can change rapidly & a quick call to 1-800-686-0446 can ensure that all is as expected.
3) Leave plenty of time to get to the ferry terminal early, because speeding on the causeway is not only dangerous, but is an invitation for a traffic violation.
4) Save precious dollars by taking the time to both make a reservation well ahead of any departure date, and by choosing a sailing time during off-peak hours.
5) If able, take a bus, uber or taxi to the departure terminal instead of a vehicle to save serious dollars & the boarding the next ferry sailing will be guaranteed.
6) Never run, skip or jump while travelling on a ferry because a sudden wave or a wet deck could cause an accident and ruin an otherwise fabulous trip.
7) Keep a camera handy to capture and record the ever changing scenery, coastal birds & mammals.
Thing To Know When Booking A Ferry - Ferry Information is always free !
Benefit of Booking on FerryTravel.com
It should never be necessary to enter any of your personal information if you simply want a price quote, or schedule information for any ferry.
Sites requiring your name, email or phone etc before answering your questions about fares and schedules are data collecting: - and while they may never use your information (except if you choose to make a reservation), providing personal information is simply not a requirement if only getting information.
You do not need to trade personal information to secure ferry information.
To calculate a ferry fare, any site or ferry booking representative only needs to know:
- where you will be boarding the ferry and where you will be disembarking
- the dates/s you are wanting to travel
- If taking a vehicle both the type & size
- the number of passengers in your party
- the ages of those passengers ages so age related discounts are automatically applied
- whether or not a cabin is desired. (cabins are always optional)
THE END- That's It - As Easy as 1-2-3
No other information is required to secure information on travelling by ferry.
Quickly, easily and without soliciting your personal details, www.ferrytravel.comwill provide all the information necessary to see both the cost of travel by ferry, and the sailing dates for each ferry route.
The site is supported both by email: email@example.com and by phone, with help from 7 AM to 10 PM.
Booking a ferry need not be complicated - simply enter the route you want, the number of passengers travelling, select the travel dates from a drop menu, continue and "voila", up will come the price.
Happy planning !
BC Ferries Uses Electric Hybrid Ferries
BC Ferries Joined Green Marine
BC Ferries joined "Green Marine" in 2014 with a commitment to make every effort to reduce their environmental footprint.
The Island Class hybrid electric ferries introduced almost a year ago are in keeping with that commitment, and are currently operating successfully on the following routes:
- Powell River - Texada Island
- Port McNeil - Alert Bay
- Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island
- Campbell River - Quadra Island.
Aside from working toward more conscientious environmental considerations, having numerous vessels of the same type revolves around positive maintenance and customer service.
When a ferry is required to go into dry dock, service consistency can be maintained as one ferry is swapped for another.
Both positive customer service & improved efficiencies is a goal of the BC Ferry Corporation and the electric hybrid ferries will work to promote achievement of that goal.
Whittier Ferry Starting 2024 Service in March
Whittier ferry From Bellingham
It was just announced that the ferry travelling up the Inside Passage from Bellingham to Whitter is expected to begin its 2024 service in March.
For travellers wishing to avoid having to travel through Canada to Alaska, this is great news because the ferry to Whittier does not stop in Canada. This means no passports are required and the Whittier ferry is only a 1hr, 15 minute drive to Anchorage.
The route for the cross-gulf ferry starts in Bellingham and makes port stops in Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka & Juneau before crossing the gulf to Whittier & Valdez.
The Washington to Whittier Alaska trip is 5 days and during the summer months it is expected to travel 2 x each month.
Reservations should be made as far in advance as possible (1-800-686-0446 or online at www.ferrytravel.com) as space fills quickly and with dynamic pricing the fare rises as the available space decreases.
Importance of Making a Reservation on BC Ferries
BC Ferry Reservations
Although a reservation on any of the 3 Mainland to Vancouver Island ferry routes is not required, waiting at the terminal as ferry after ferry departs with a full load and you are left at the dock is no fun.
The $18 BC Ferry reservation charge brings the total Mainland to Vancouver Island passage cost for a driver plus a standard vehicle (under 20' & under 7' high), to about $118.55 Cdn.
If travelling without a reservation, the cost is $100.55, so booking a reservation is absolutely worth the extra dollars.
Some early morning & late night sailings to between Vancouver & Vancouver Island are discounted and can be secured through a call to 1-888-223-2779.
Alaska Ferry Smorgasbord Offerings: From Meats to Pastas to Salads
The self-serve dining areas on all Alaska ferries are open throughout the day and the menu, ranging from sandwiches to hamburgers, salads to pastas, is varied and plentiful.
Both hot and cold drinks are available in the cafeteria and both snacks & cold drinks are always available through vending machines.
The 2 certified ocean class Alaska ferries, offer passengers a full service, sit down dinning room with a menu that includes not only fresh seafood from Alaska, but a variety of entrees.
The ocean class vessels are the Columbia* which travels the Inside Passage and the Tustumena** which provides summer ferry service 2x a month to the Aleutian Islands.
Passengers are always welcome to bring their own snacks, treats & spirits should they wish, the enjoyment of spirits however is confined to the passengers' cabin.
Although microwave use in the cafeterias is available to passengers, anything that needing refrigeration must be kept in a personal cooler. Ice vending machines are available 24/7.
*Bellingham, Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersberg, Sitka, Juneau, Haines and Skagway
**Kodiak, Seldovia, Port Lions, Ouzinkie & Homer
BC Ferry Schedule Change Notice
Quadra Island Residents & Visitors Should Note BC Ferry Schedule changes
One of the two ferries serving the Campbell River - Quadra Island route requires repair to of one of its thrusters.
The repair, taking place at Buckley Bay should be quick, but until the return of the MV Island Nagalis at the end of October, the route will be served by only one ferry.
The modified schedule (see BCFerries.com) could result in line-ups between Campbell River &Quathiaski Cove so it would be wise to arrive for a chosen sailing well in advance of the scheduled departure time.
BC Ferry Fare Reduction
BC Ferry Specials
BC Ferry fare savings can be had on specific sailings (both directions) between Vancouver and Vancouver Island at the Swartz Bay, the Duke Point, Departure Bay and the Tsawwassen terminals.
Reservations through 1-800-223-3779 must be made in advance of a chosen sailing as the discounted fare can not be bought at the terminals.
The BC Ferry fare savings including reservation costs, start at $49 for a standard car & driver.
If made more than an hr prior to sailing, changes to a reservation are possible for a $5 charge.