(Photo by Robby Benn)

As with every busy holiday season, BC Ferries is adding extra sailings to accommodate increased number of passengers over the second half of December.

The majority of these sailings are added to the Vancouver – Victoria (Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay) route, which is the most popular route.

Extra sailings will also be incorporated on the West Vancouver – Nanaimo and West Vancouver – Sunshine Coast routes.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • Vancouver – Victoria: 128 extra sailings including 6 a.m. departures from Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay on December 23rd, 26th, and 27th; and 10 p.m. departure from Tsawwassen on December 21st.
  • West Vancouver – Nanaimo: 37 extra sailings
  • Vancouver – Sunshine Coast: 6 extra sailings

According to BC Ferries, the most popular travel days during the holidays are December 26th and 27th with traffic returning from the Departure Bay, Swartz Bay and Langdale terminals.

To help with your travel plans, BC Ferries has a few tips for the season:

  • Book in advance – Commuters may want to reserve early to guarantee a spot on their desired sailing. Alternatively, if your travel plans are flexible, then traveling at off-peak will help you avoid the rush.
  • Arrive early – BC Ferries recommends that vehicle passengers arrive 30 – 60 minutes before their departure, and that walk-on passengers arrive 45 minutes before their sailing.
  • Consider parking options – Parking lots at the major terminals tend to fill up quickly over the Thanksgiving long weekend. If possible, travellers are advised to take public transit or arrange to be dropped off at the terminal to avoid traffic congestion.
  • Ride-share if possible – Customers are encouraged to car-pool or travel as a foot passenger as vehicle deck space fills up quickly.
  • Be prepared for sailing waits – At popular times, customers travelling without a vehicle
    reservation may experience sailing waits.
  • Customers travelling between Swartz Bay and Salt Spring Island are reminded that from December 20th, 2019 to Jan. 1, 2020, the 60-vehicle Bowen Queen will be on the route replacing the 90-vehicle Skeena Queen, which is undergoing a mid-life upgrade. The Bowen Queen will do two additional round trips per day on the route so the maximum number of customers can be accommodated.

Starting December 11th, the Pacific Buffet will be serving a seasonal carved turkey menu that includes roast turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and vegetables, to get into the holiday spirit.