Thursday, February 22, 2024

Here’s what to expect when Clipper sailings return to Victoria’s inner harbour


The Victoria Clipper service is returning, but hang tight; you won’t be able to visit Seattle right away.

On September 17th, the Clipper will resume service for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic started back in March 2020. That is over 17 months of suspended international service. 

“We are ecstatic to set sail for Victoria once again,” Scott Meis, Vice President of Marketing for Clipper Vacations USA, Inc. told Victoria Buzz.

“It has been a roller coaster of a year once again, but to have a set date and defined framework for safe travel is the exact starting point we needed to ramp up our international operations.” 

Although Canada has been welcoming American visitors through the border since early August, non-essential travel by Canadians into the states remains restricted. This is due to the current border closure, which has been extended until at least September 21st. 

This means, at this time, only Americans will be able to take advantage of the newly resumed Clipper service. 

The Victoria Clipper plans to operate a four-day schedule over weekends and also add extra sailing around the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons.

“Unfortunately during this time, we had to say good-bye to quite a few of our veteran reservations agents and onboard crew, many of whom had built their entire career around Clipper but due to personal circumstances needed to find new careers,” said Meis.

 “Nevertheless, we feel highly fortunate and grateful that we are still able to rehire a large portion of restart staff who were with us prior to the pandemic.”

In order to travel to Victoria, US visitors will be required to provide proof of full vaccination, a negative PCR COVID-19 test as well as a quarantine plan. 

Proof of vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test result must be submitted through the ArriveCan web portal or app within 72 hours of their planned arrival.

Travellers will also be required to submit a second COVID-19 test upon entering Canada. 

Masks will still be required onboard the vessels, as per the state’s newly reinstated indoor mask mandate. 

Along with the extra costs of these COVID-19 tests, there may be other reasons deterring Americans from visiting Victoria. 

Recently, the US State Department urged Americans to “reconsider travel” to Canada due to what the Centers for Disease Control calls “high” levels of COVID-19 infection.

“It’s of course something we are keeping a very close eye on each day,” said Meis, , when asked how this announcement may affect travel on the Clipper. 

“Our confidence with those who do choose to travel is the steps and requirements each traveler will need to go through before they step foot on Victoria Clipper V.”

“We are working very closely with both Canadian and U.S. Customs to ensure all compliance and requirements for entry are met.”

Only about 61 per cent of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, compared with nearly 75 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12.

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