Monday, May 27, 2024

8 must know tips when travelling with BC Ferries during the holiday season

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BC Ferries typically transports more than 680,000 people and 270,000 vehicles during the holiday season and this year will be no different. 

Given the last couple days when BC Ferries had several cancellations and delayed sailings due to staff shortages and cold weather, some reminders for their busiest travel season may be needed. 

To help deal with the influx of customers and demand for travel, they have added an additional 150 sailings between Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast.

Starting on December 22nd and ending on January 2nd, BC Ferries is adding:

  • 110 sailings between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay
  • 35 sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay
  • 6 sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale

After January 2nd, when the holiday season is over, schedules will return to normal.

BC Ferries says that typically, December 23rd is the most popular time to travel prior to Christmas Day. It will be especially busy this year, given that the 23rd falls on a Friday.

Following Christmas Day, December 26th and 27th are expected to have high volumes of travellers wishing to book space on the ferries.

On Christmas Day and New Year’s Day due to typically low demand, schedules will be reduced.

Here are eight tips to travelling with BC Ferries this holiday season:

  • Book your trips in advance: Take advantage of sales and find the exact time that will work for you on BC Ferries website. If you show up without a reservation, don’t hold your breath for a slot on a vessel. Chances are you’ll end up waiting a while.
  • Arrive to the terminal early: The same way you would arrive early to an airport for a flight. Be there at least 45 to 60 minutes before your departure time. Keep an eye on current conditions to see if any delays are happening also never hurts.
  • Expect to wait at popular times: Sailing waits are always expected at popular sailing times. Bring a book or a game of some kind and remember to take deep breaths if you end up waiting a bit. Popular times are usually early morning and late evening sailings. 
  • Car-pool, if you can: Vehicle decks fill up quickly so if you know others travelling at the same time as you, hitch a ride with them to help everyone’s chances of securing a spot.
  • Leave your car behind: Public transit exists and it works. The mainland also has ride-hailing services like Uber you can take advantage of while travelling too. Head to BC Transit and TransLink for schedules and information.
  • Consider all parking options: BC Ferries say that their parking lots fill up quickly so it is often best to leave your car somewhere else and utilize public transit to get to and from the terminals. When lots are filled, BC Ferries will inform their customers via Twitter.
  • Expect winter conditions: Stay informed with road conditions by checking out Victoria Buzz’s island traffic cams article which updates every 15 minutes, or check Drive BC’s website. Dress for cold weather with strong winds while aboard any ferries. Proper footwear will help avoid slips and falls.
  • Stay informed: Check BC Ferries current conditions regularly on your travel day.
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Curtis Blandy
curtis@victoriabuzz.com

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