BC Ferries is warning ferry-goers to brace for a busy long weekend ahead, especially with holidays happening on both sides of the border.
Not only will Canadians be celebrating Canada Day, but Americans will be commemorating Independence Day—meaning for the first time in six years, July 1st and 4th will bookend the same weekend.
Calling it the “unofficial launch of summer,” BC Ferries expects “very high” vehicle volumes and, in anticipation, has altered peak sailing schedules along major routes to ensure maximum capacity on ships.
The Metro Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to Victoria (Swartz Bay) route, which is the busiest route in the fleet, will be serviced by four vessels that will provide up to 32 sailings per day.
“Travelling on Saturday of this long weekend is also an option since heavy traffic is expected Thursday into Friday morning and Sunday into Monday morning,” the corporation said Tuesday, pointing to its website for the latest sailing conditions.
Throughout the peak summer season, BC Ferries encourages customers to book in advance, arrive 45 to 60 minutes before departure, prepare for warm weather, and ride-share, if possible.
The suggestions come amid a repealed federal vaccination policy for federally regulated transportation sector workers, with BC Ferries now looking to hire back around 150 unvaccinated staff on unpaid leave.
“We are in the process of reaching out to them to check on their intention to return to BC Ferries,” spokesperson Deborah Marshall told Victoria Buzz.
It was in January when BC Ferries’ vaccination policy came into effect. Since then, the corporation has been plagued by sailing cancellations and revisions with “crewing challenges” to blame.
Ferry-goers were warned in March to expect delays and altered sailing schedules this summer due to staff vaccination policies, troubles recruiting international candidates, and a lack of professional mariners.
In recent weeks, BC Ferries had advised of cancellations on the Queen of New Westminster, which sails from Sidney’s Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen and vice versa.
“BC Ferries understands the importance of providing reliable ferry service, especially for ferry-dependent communities and customers who use the ferry system to get to work, school, medical appointments, or to visit family and friends,” the corporation said.
“Transitioning to summer service levels required adjusting ship and crew schedules on some sailings,” BC Ferries added, noting customers with bookings on affected sailings are being contacted.