The ships have arrived!
On Wednesday, July 19th, the Nanaimo Port Authority welcomed two high-speed passenger ferries to Assembly Wharf.
The ferries will be operated by a new player in the Vancouver Island ferry industry, Hullo, a Vancouver Island Ferry Company (VIFC) service between Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver.
VIFC was founded in 2022 and this rapid transit endeavour based out of Nanaimo is their first stab at operating a private ferry company since their creation.
As Hullo and VIFC welcomed the two vessels named sthuqi’ and spuhéls to their new home Wharf, they announced that they would be opening bookings early next week for sailings to begin on August 14th.
“It’s a tremendously exciting period for us all,” says Alastair Caddick, Hullo’s Chief Executive Officer.
“Our dedicated Hullo crew has been working relentlessly to bring this highly anticipated bi-coastal service to life. We can’t wait to welcome our first guests aboard in just a few short weeks,” he exclaimed.
The vessels have thus far spent time in Victoria so crews and staff could become familiar with them, test them on the open waters and conduct training drills in case of emergency.
The remaining weeks before they are officially launched will be spent training personnel further and familiarizing crews with the Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver route.
Hullo also released their initial schedule with more sailings to be added in the coming months.
First sailing from Nanaimo will be a 6 a.m. departure while the first Vancouver sailing will depart at 8 a.m. with the last sailings departing at 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. respectively.
First time sailings are discounted and cost between $29.99 and $49.99. Following the first time, passengers will pay between $39.99 and $59.99. Child and senior discounts are also available.
Each vessel hosts 354-seats and Hullo says their big selling point is that it only takes an hour and 10 minutes to travel from Nanaimo to downtown Vancouver.
BC Ferries is cheaper, but only travels to Horseshoe Bay in North Vancouver or Tsawwassen which takes between an hour and 40 minutes to two hours.
The only other ‘high-speed’ passenger ferry that operated on Vancouver Island was the V2V service from downtown Victoria to downtown Vancouver.
V2V dealt with constant mechanical issues in their vessels which have since been sold off to a Caribbean ferry company and they received criticism over high costs, ultimately putting them out of business.
Hullo is trying to make fast travel affordable in their launch of the Nanaimo service which they hope to grow and expand.