New Nanaimo to Vancouver ferry service Hullo launches after 2-day delay

The inaugural Hullo ferry voyage departing from Nanaimo to Vancouver is pictured. Aug. 16, 2023

The long-awaited launch of Hullo, a passenger ferry between Nanaimo and Vancouver, set sail Wednesday morning after a two-day delay.

The Hullo ferry service launched its maiden voyage from Nanaimo at 10 a.m. with 189 passengers onboard.

Those onboard say they could soon see differences from their previous ferry experiences.

“It’s a really smooth ride. It’s really fast,” said Elaina Wotten, a passenger from Nanaimo.

“It’s beautiful inside. The seats are very comfortable. I like that they offer tables so I can get some work done.”

“The boat has a real good feel to it,” said Brian Adam from Nanoose Bay. “It’s not jarring at all. It’s a nice ride. It’s very quiet.”

Hullo says their top cruising speed is 40 knots or 74 kilometres an hour. That’s roughly double the speed of BC Ferries coastal class.

Hullo’s co-founder says he’s excited to see this day come and says while sailings were cancelled Monday and Tuesday, it will be a reliable service.

“I think 99 per cent of the time, the weather’s going to be cooperative. Unfortunately, this time around, we got hit with a couple of days of really high winds,” said Rupesh Amin, co-founder of the Hullo ferry service.

Amin says they’re working on approvals to accommodate e-bikes and what the charge will be for extra luggage. Currently, passengers are only allowed a carry-on.

Once in Vancouver, disembarking passengers were really impressed.

“First sailing was awesome. I was amazed at how smooth it was cause there were some good-sized waves out there, but it was nice and quick. It was great. We’ll be back,” said Phil Wylie.

Aaliyah Smith, who recently moved to Vancouver from Nanaimo, says she will use the service again.

“It’s super nice to be right in downtown, and the sky train’s right there so I can get home super easy, and then I’m already right in downtown Nanaimo,” she added.

“It’s awesome. I do love it.”

Hullo says they’re still working out kinks but will soon be offering more sailings and late ones, so evening events will still be possible for those wanting to still return to Vancouver Island that night.

The departure was held two days after Hullo was originally supposed to launch. However, the start date was pushed back by two days because of power outages and strong winds in the area.

The company also launched with just four daily sailings, amounting to half of its original eight planned sailings per day.

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The current Hullo ferry schedule between Nanaimo and Vancouver can be found below, and will expand to eight daily sailings on Aug. 31:

  • 10 a.m. departing from Nanaimo
  • Noon departing from Vancouver
  • 4:30 p.m. departing from Nanaimo
  • 6:30 p.m. departing from Vancouver

“Every new operation has a bedding-in period to effectively set its systems and procedures for long term stability,” said Amin in a statement Monday.

“Today’s conditions gave us better insight into several processes that we could better operationalize, and we are taking the time to do just that with the safety and well-being of our passengers at top of mind,” he said at the time.

A Hullo vessel is pictured in Nanaimo. Aug. 15, 2023.


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