The 92-vehicle ferry on the Swartz Bay to Salt Spring Island route is being taken out of service from Oct. 28, 2019, to mid-March 2020 for an upgrade.
BC Ferries says the mid-life upgrade to the Skeena Queen is necessary for required maintenance on the vessel.
The Skeena Queen will be replaced by the 112-vehicle Queen of Cumberland.
The Queen of Cumberland has vehicle ramps, unlike the Skeena Queen.
Since the regular route schedule does not allow enough time to use two ramps, and over-height and commercial vehicles cannot be loaded underneath the ramps, BC Ferries will only use upper-level ramp when necessary. This includes busy morning sailings out of Fulford Harbour and busy afternoon sailings out of Swartz Bay. Customers are required to exit their vehicles on the upper ramp during travel.
The rest of the time, one ramp will be used, with a vehicle capacity to 94.
The Queen of Cumberland has an elevator to provide access to the second level lounge. It also features a Coast Café Express.
Vehicles will be loaded differently onto the Queen of Cumberland, with commercial traffic separated from regular vehicle traffic. Customers will still be loaded on a first-come, first-served basis as they arrive at the terminal.
During the first week the Queen of Cumberland is on the route, BC Ferries will have additional staff and signage at Fulford Harbour Terminal on Salt Spring Island.
The 138-vehicle Salish Raven is replacing the Queen of Cumberland on the Swartz Bay to Southern Gulf Islands route during this time period. However, from Dec. 20, 2019, to Jan. 1, 2020, the Queen of Cumberland will be used on the Swartz Bay to Southern Gulf Islands Route while the Salish Raven provides additional Service between Tsawwassen and the Southern Gulf Islands. The Bowen Queen, which has a 61-vehicle capacity, will be used on the Swartz Bay to Salt Spring Island route.
Since the Bowen Queen is loaded faster than the Queen of Cumberland, it will do two additional round trips per day on the Swartz Bay to Salt Spring Island route. BC Ferries expects certain runs will still be popular and will be providing a revised schedule. Long lineups are expected at Fulford Harbour due to the smaller capacity of the Bowen Queen.