BC Ferries, Victoria
As I mentioned earlier...Victoria is in a sense a kind of isolated community given that its situated on an Island..Arrival to Victoria is only accomplished by personal boat,air,or ferry unless you are already on Vancouver Island..and B.C. Ferries pretty much is the most affordable way to transit from mainland British Columbia..
B.C. Ferries is a Crown Corporation that runs passenger and vehicle ferry services for coastal and island communities throughout most areas of British Columbia and is in fact a sort of "water based extension" of the highway system....you can use BC Ferries to get to Victoria from Metro Vancouver or some of the Gulf Islands.
The two terminals are Schwartz Bay on the Vancouver Island side [Victoria] and Tsawwassen on the mainland side [ Vancouver ]...both terminals offer public transport links [ public bus ] and "walk-on" passengers are quite common.Transiting between both Vancouver and Victoria is still relatively easy if you are not using a car although maybe a little more time consuming..B.C.Transit offers routes throughout the Lower Mainland that will eventually end up at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal.The same goes for the Victoria side....B.C. Transit operates at least three routes that end at Schwartz Bay Terminal.
The sailing time between Victoria and Vancouver is about an hour and a half...add to that loading and off loading time and you're looking at a two hour experience excluding waiting times......sailing times can ALWAYS be lengthened when weather is a factor...the ships will not sail when conditions are deemed to be too dangerous.
The two most common ferries that run the route between Victoria and Vancouver are the "Spirit of British Columbia" and the "Spirit of Vancouver Island"...there is a third ferry,the newest on the run "Coastal Celebration"...the three are considered Super Ferries and were added to the fleet of B.C. Ferries in 1993 and 1994 while "Coastal Celebration was added to the fleet most recently in 2008.
The route between Schwartz Bay and Tsawwassen takes you across the Strait of Georgia and between Galiano and Mayne Islands transiting through Active Pass,considered to be the half way point of the journey..Active Pass often presents itself as a point of interest...and often ships sailing from each departure point will meet up here here...if you might be on deck while going through Active Pass...expect the ship to sound long warning blasts with its horn...there is an announcement over the PA system whenever this happens but be prepared...its a long and loud blast that will certainly notice!This is also a pretty scenic point of the journey and you might want to take some pictures...
Don't be surprised if you might see some type of sea life during your journey....seals,eagles,and sometimes whales are sighted during the crossing...
The fee structure is quite varied and is sometimes pretty confusing...Walk on passengers will pay $ 13.50 Canadian for adults...children aged 5-11 will cost you $ 6.75...Children under 5 are FREE...If you're traveling by vehicle expect to pay this fare AND in addition to this don't forget the rate that you will be charged for your vehicle...Vehicle fares are determined by the size ot the vehicle....for example...a passenger vehicle will cost $ 45.00 including a trailer if your vehicle falls within an overall size of 20 feet long and 7 feet high...add $ 2.25 a foot if the vehicle exceeds this "standard"..
Sometimes ferry lines can be long....meaning lots of people are traveling to or from...its possible to make "RESERVATIONS" which ensure your access to a specific crossing...but this also comes with a COST....To make a reservation for a particular sailing will cost you an ADDITIONAL $ 17.50 in addition to all of the other costs involved...
The list goes on and on so if you're traveling with a trailer or maybe a motor home you might want to consult they're website for more details....or use the telephone...Reservation and sailing information can be obtained by either telephone or internet....
Sailings between Victoria and Vancouver are normally every hour on the hour...first sailings from either departure point are at 7:00 AM and the last sailing of the day is at 9:00 PM...
EARLY and LATER departures are planned for the duration of the coming 2010 Olympics....please consult B.C. Ferries Web site for more information...
If you are going from Vancouver Island to the Vancouver area, you will be traveling on BC Ferries. We did this on our return trip and this is a quite scenic trip as well. On a clear day you can see some beautiful peaks in the distance. It cost us C$ 43 and took 1.5 hours. Check their website for current schedules and prices.
This is another route that requires some driving as you leave from Sydney once again and sail to Tsawassen on the British Colombia mainland. It is a 30 kilometer or half hour drive to Vancouver.
There are numerous other routes to get to the mainland of British Colombia if you are traveling around Vancouver Island. Please check their informative website for details.
On our 3rd day in town we went via a BC Car Ferry from Vancouver to Victoria or actually Tsawwassen (near the US/Canadian border) to Swartz Bay (a little north of Victoria). This is the first time we had ever ridden with a car onto a ferry and was an interesting experience.
If you've never done this before, I'll give you a brief description. First, we purchased our tickets ahead of time to make sure we got on the boat we wanted. Although they have several crossings every day they can be filled up and you would have to wait several hours for the next crossing. Next, we waited in line with other vehicles until and ferry arrived and the gates came up to allow us on the boat. It is all done quickly and in a very orderly fashion. You then leave the vehicle part of the ferry and go up into the passenger area which has very comfortable inside seating and a deck which you can walk around during your trip.
Most of the time we spent inside since it was a chilly day, but we were able to get outside for some time to take pictures and an actual whale sighting. A lot of people pay a lot of money for special whale sighting trips and lo and behold we got one (albeit very brief) at no extra charge.
When you arrive at your destination port the same orderly departures occur from the ferry as now the other end of the ferry lowers its gates. As of 2009 current costs for the route we took were $13.50 per person + $45 per car. Canadian Dollars.
To go to Victoria, there is a ferry that departs from Tsawwassen and goes to Swartz Bay which takes approximately 90 minutes. The ferries, at least in the summer, leave every hour from 6 am-9pm (10 pm on weekends and holidays), you can see the schedule here. You can also take a car on the ferry which would cut down on the amount of time the trip takes but of course includes an extra charge and is sometimes fully booked so you may want to make a reservation.
You pay for the fare before boarding and they are only sold as one way fares, credit cards are accepted. Our one way fare was $11.60 CAD.
Once on board, you can sit in one of the lounges, watch the scenery up on deck, have a meal at one of the restaurants on board or take a look through the gift shop. We grabbed breakfast at the Coastal Cafe, or more accurately Rob had breakfast and I ate his Belgian waffle and then headed up to the top deck to watch the scenery go by. We hadn't intended to eat on board on the way back but we lost track of time on Victoria and caught the last ferry back which got us back to Vancouver around midnight so we ate at the Pacific Buffet which had a variety of meat and fish dishes, a salad bar and a dessert bar.
TIP: bring along a jacket if you want to hang out on deck, even in the summer, as it gets cool out on the water
The best way to get to Vancouver Island and Victoria is with the B.C. Ferry.
You can go from Tsawwasen (about 20 km' south of Vancouver) to Shwarts Bay (about 20 km' north of Victoria) or from Horseshoe Bay (just north of Vancouver) to Nanaimo (40 km' north of Victoria).
The sail itself takes about one and a half hour, but the whole trip door to door takes about 3 hours.
In the high season you better be at the departure point more then half an hour before departure, or call them and reservr a place (for your car). It cost a bit more, but you won't remain on shore
The 95-minute ferry ride between Tsawwassen (Vancouver) and Swartz Bay (Victoria) is a very pleasant one - not only are the boats comfortable, with plenty of nice indoor and outdoor seating areas, a restaurant, a cafeteria and a giftshop, but the landscape alone is well worth the price of your ticket! Both on the way to and from Victoria, I spent most of the trip out on the deck with my camera in hand, snapping away as the ferry made its way through dozens of small islands. It's practically an attraction in itself!
Boats depart every hour on the hour from 7:00 am to 9:00 pm, with extra departures at 6:00 am on weekdays and at 10:00 pm on Friday and Sunday nights (check the website for more information as schedules might change). Tickets cost $11.15 for adults, and there's a bus stop at the terminal if you want to catch a bus to downtown Victoria.
Victoria is situated on the island so it took me some time to realise that I was actually on the island, and the only way to get to the main land to take a Ferry. Of course there is also sea planes or swim :)))
And it's possible only when this transportation is available.
There is a schedule, which you can find on the website below.
Yes, you can go either by foot, being on the bus, in the car or on the bike.
Remember check the schedule first!!!
Inconvinience is that you can't get to main land during the night, so basically if you are stuck! :)
The service works perfect but on limited time!
There are also sea place about them I will tell in my next tip!
Cost ~ 11 CA $ (foot passenger)
~ 40 CA $ for vehicle (not including passengers)
2,50 CA $ for bicycle
The food aboard BC Ferries can, in general, only be described as crap. In the cafeteria I would suggest getting a bowl of soup... apparently the White Spot burgers don't compare to the real thing. Also, if you order a kids meal you get some pudding, which is probably the healthiest part of the meal.
The only exception is the Pacific Buffet breakfast. For only $11 you get unlimited breakfast treats with the nicest view and quietest seating on the boat. You can toast your own waffles (add strawberries and whipped cream) and toast and have some oatmeal, then go back for eggs, sausages, squash, muffins and danishes. There is lots of tea, coffee and juice as well.
For lunch the buffet serves a more expensive salad bar, and for dinner they do a roast. I personally don't like either idea so I haven't tried it, but unless that sounds really appealing to you (and worth $15 or more), consider eating breakfast in the buffet and packing any other meal you might want to eat while aboard.
Victoria is well connected by ferry to both the BC mainland and Washington State. Ferries between Vancouver and Victoria sail several times per day. Bus companies provide services between downtown Victoria to downtown Vancouver via ferry.
Prepare your camera because you'll get to see spectacular views.
We took the Spirit of British Columbia from Vancouver to Victoria. This was a super nice, and modern ferrie with flat screen TV's, restaurants, etc. The ride is about 1 1/2 hour, and it cost $70 for four people.
We arrived at the dock in Port Angeles 40 minutes before the scheduled departure. Be sure to have a valid passport ready, along with your money. IF you don't have it ready, you will be asked to step aside while the clerk waits on someone else. I have ridden the BC ferries several times and never been disappointed. It takes about an hour and a half from P.A. to Victoria. When leaving the ferry, turn right, go up the 30 foot hill to the left, turn left to the main road and continue down until you hit the sign marking Highway 17. The ride is $37.50 for motorcycle and rider and $25.00 for the passenger. Be very careful while driving in Victoria because the drivers there have no sense at all about courtesy or safety.
If you're coming to Victoria from "up island" (or leaving Victoria and travelling up island), consider taking the Mill Bay Ferry instead of the Malahat Highway. The Mill Bay Ferry is a small, vehicle and passenger ferry that runs from Mill Bay to Brentwood Bay (on the Saanich Peninsula), allowing drivers and other travelers to skip the slow-moving, dangerous Malahat highway. Your fare will be collected by the crew aboard the ship (cash and travellers cheques only) and the trip only takes about thirty minutes. The drive from Brentwood Bay into Victoria is beautiful and takes you through scenic Saanich farms and rural areas.
BC Ferries are the easy way to go to Victoria. Buses leave from the main bus depot every hour.
The bus ride to the ferry terminal takes about 3/4 hour if I remember right.
The bus takes you to the bus terminal at Victoria which is only a street away from the inner harbour, the parliament building, Empress Hotel and the mueseum. Talk about everything being within walking distance.
After researching all the possible ways to get to Victoria, taking Victoria Clippers was the best option.
You have to arrive early morning to the ferry port, and it takes a few hours to get there. And same going back. They make it easier also to book the hotel and other side trips.
' Welcome aboard BC Ferries! Our sailing time to...' My personal preference is for the Spirit of British Columbia, although the Queen of Saanich has been nicely refurbished. The Spirit of Vancouver Island has the Lantern Coffee Bar, but for some unknown reason, they've turned all the seats to face the same way and this is quite a barrier to getting a good hour and a half of sleep on the way over. Of course, it you've never been before, the trip across is absolutely gorgeous and should not be missed; however, 'passengers on the outside decks should be warned, the ship's whistle will sound.' One word of advice, stay away from the Sunshine Breakfast.
Victoria is proud to enhance it's image as being 'more English than the English' by recently purchasing several double-decker buses for use on public routes. The city has always had double-decker tour buses, but now you can travel in style from downtown to the ferry terminal in the luxury of a two-storey motor vehicle!