Long weekend travel: Vehicle reservations on all BC Ferries' major routes sold out Friday
BC Ferries is warning travellers to pack their patience for what’s shaping up to be a very busy Thanksgiving long weekend.
Vehicle reservations on all the major routes leaving the Lower Mainland were completely sold out Friday before the sun came up.
That included Tsawwassen to Duke Point and Swartz Bay, and Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay and Langdale.
The corporation had anticipated this would happen, putting out a travel advisory day in advance.
“Customers without a booking should arrive prepared for sailing waits, as standby space will be limited,” wrote BC Ferries in a news release Wednesday.
It says it’s best to avoid peak travel times, which historically are Thursday and Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.
“Thanksgiving Monday will be the most popular travel day, with traffic sailing from Nanaimo (Departure Bay), Victoria (Swartz Bay) and the Sunshine Coast (Langdale),” wrote BC Ferries.
You may have better luck boarding as a foot passenger, though most of those reservations are also gone.
To make matters worse, the Spirit of Vancouver Island, which operates between Tsawwassen and Victoria, remains out of service for repairs.
A smaller boat is being used in its place.
“Capacity will be reduced, however, as the Coastal Class vessel carries 310 vehicles and 1604 passengers and crew compared to the Spirit Class vessel which carries 358 vehicles and 2100 passengers and crew,” explained BC Ferries.
Travellers are encouraged to check the BC Ferries website before arriving at the terminal to check for any other delays.
“We understand that high traffic volumes can be frustrating for customers. We certainly want everyone to get to their desired destinations at the time that they want to do that,” said Astrid Chang of BC Ferries.
Traffic at the Tsawwassen Terminal was steady Friday morning, but there weren’t any significant lines because 75 per cent of space aboard bookable routes is allocated to reservations.
“For people who do have bookings, we advise them to arrive early. So 45 to 60 minutes before your scheduled departure time. For people who are walking on those foot passengers, give yourself extra time as well, up to 45 minutes,” explained Chang.
Most travellers reported making their bookings several days in advance.
“We did have reservations, we figured we better do that and everywhere we’ve gone has been beautiful,” said Alice and Karen from Lloydminster, Alta.
However, those without reservations did report sailings waits.
“We had our schedule and now we’ve got to wait an hour and a half, but hopefully everything’s going to be fine,” said Alexander from Ontario.
Whether you plan on travelling or staying close to home this long weekend, Dr. Bonnie Henry is asking British Columbians to keep their Thanksgiving gatherings small.
Those who have older or immunocompromised people attending are asked to ensure all guests are fully vaccinated.