BC Ferries is looking to beat the holiday rush.
Customers travelling between Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast between Dec. 22 and Jan. 2 will notice more than 150 extra sailings along select routes, the company says.
One-hundred-and-ten extra sailings are being added on the Tsawwassen (Vancouver) and Swartz Bay (Victoria) route, while 35 sailings are being added between Horseshoe Bay (Vancouver) and Departure Bay (Nanaimo) and six are being added between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale (Sunshine Coast).
The additional sailings come as crews anticipate in excess of 680,000 passengers and 270,000 vehicles to travel via BC Ferries over the holiday season, according to the company in a news release.
“Typically, the most popular travel time over the holidays before Christmas Day is Dec. 23 for traffic moving from the Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay terminals to Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast,” BC Ferries said.
“The most popular travel days over the holidays after Christmas Day will be Dec. 26 and 27, with traffic returning from the Departure Bay, Duke Point, Swartz Bay and Langdale terminals. BC Ferries is also adding a number of additional sailings between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands.”
On Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, meanwhile, demand is “traditionally low,” meaning sailing schedules are reduced on some routes those days, the company says. It’s reminding people to check its website for individual schedules.
Book and arrive early, BC Ferries warns
Yet, the travel surge is set to culminate an already busy year for BC Ferries, as staff shortages and weather conditions like strong winds have led to delays and, in many cases, cancellations throughout 2022.
Another recent incident saw a Spirit of British Columbia sailing from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen on Dec. 2 become delayed after the ship’s anchor was deployed early, causing it to stop and subsequent sailings on the route to be cancelled.
The company urges travellers to follow its holiday travel tips, which include booking in advance, expecting sailing waits at popular times and ride-sharing, if possible. Customers with a booking should arrive at the terminal 45-60 minutes before departure, while walk-on passengers should arrive 45 minutes before.
BC Ferries also encourages customers to be prepared for winter conditions by driving and dressing appropriately and checking sailing schedule information, current conditions and more on its website or Twitter.