The Queen of Oak Bay departs the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. Arnold C (User:Buchanan-Hermit)

If you haven’t booked your ferry yet, you might still be in luck!

As in past years, BC Ferries is anticipating their highest demand for travel during the May long weekend, between May 18th and 23rd.

To prepare for the long weekend, BC Ferries is adding 95 additional sailings in anticipation of 430,000 passengers and 170,000 vehicles needing transportation.

The extra sailings will be focussed on BC Ferries highest traffic routes between Nanaimo, Tsawwassen, the Sunshine Coast and Swartz Bay.

66 extra sailings will be added through the weekend to the Tsawwassen to Victoria Swartz Bay route, which include 6 a.m. sailings on Saturday, May 20th and Monday, May 23rd; 18 extra sailings between Nanaimo and Horseshoe Bay and 11 extra sailings between horseshoe Bay and the Sunshine Coast’s Langdale terminal.

“Like the Easter long weekend, we continue to face staffing challenges and the potential for cancellations,” said Dean Dobrinsky, Interim Vice President, People and Culture. 

“I want to thank all our employees who are accepting overtime to help us deliver extra sailings to support customers through this busy weekend.”

BC Ferries has dealt with cancellations and delays due to staffing shortages in the past few months, but the company says it’s been continuously hiring and training staff in anticipation of a busy May long weekend.

Specifically, 125 licensed officers such as captains, engineers and chief officers have been brought on board just this year so BC Ferries ensures it’s meeting Transport Canada’s safety requirements on all sailings.

Despite the additional sailings, availability on many sailings is already limited. According to BC Ferries, customers travelling out of Horseshoe Bay may have to deal with longer than normal wait times and some travellers may have to be on standby for their desired sailing. 

The company is encouraging customers without bookings to seek out alternate traveling methods such as using the Tsawwassen terminal rather than the Horseshoe Bay terminal. 

BC Ferries says the most popular travel days on the long weekend are historically the Thursday and Friday afternoons as well as Saturday mornings. 

The following travel tips come from BC Ferries for those who are planning on taking a ferry over the May long weekend:

  • Book in advance – secure a spot early on the sailing day and time of choice. 
  • Arrive early – Customers with a booking should plan to arrive at the terminal 45-60 minutes before their scheduled departure. Walk-on passengers should arrive 45 minutes before their anticipated sailing. 
  • Expect sailing waits at popular times – Sailing waits are common during popular travel periods for customers without a booking. If bookings are sold out, the best option to avoid sailing waits is to travel during less busy times. 
  • Ride-share or take public transit to and from major terminals. 
  • Consider parking options – Parking lots at the major terminals fill up quickly at peak periods. 
  • Keep hydrated – Bring plenty of water for you and your pets. Hats and sunscreen are always a good idea. 
  • Know before you go – Check Current Conditions and All Routes at a Glance for the status of your sailing on your day of travel. 

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