BC Ferries Planning and Do’s and Don’ts
We are very fortunate to have beautiful islands that line our coast and majestic waterways that flow inland. But all this water means ferry crossings which if you don’t have all the details in hand might feel a bit stressful. Here are some suggestions for making your BC Ferries experience stress-free, fun and a memorable part of your journey.
Between the months of June and September we highly recommend making reservations for any popular routes. It’s peak season and line-ups will be long. The cost is between $10 to $21 CAD in addition to the vehicle and passengers fares. If you decided to chance it, be prepared to wait up to 3 sailings on major routes, and 1-2 sailings on shorter routes, especially on long weekends. What does that mean? You’ll be camped out in the parking lot for the better part of day. Yawn!
You will be asked to select your desired route, number of passengers and size of your vehicle.
For our VW’s you will select Standard Vehicle Under 7Ft (2.13m)
For our Sprinters select Standard Vehicle Over 7Ft (2.13m)
For length, both our vehicles are: Up to 20Ft (6.10m)
It’s super easy to book in advance online (select routes), plus they’ve created a mobile friendly version of the site to stay up-to-date on ferry traffic and schedules while you’re on the road. Or you can call 1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-223-3779).
IMPORTANT!!! Arrive 30-60 minutes before departure because 30 minutes prior to departure, your reservation is no longer valid. Boo!
If you booked a reservation then you have the luxury of going past the line-ups that lead into most terminals. Once you make your payment at the entrance you’ll be directed into which lane to park until you start loading. Please drive slow! There are a lot of people walking about, as well as children and pets.
If you don’t have a reservation then we’re afraid you must join the cue with everyone else. Be sure to stay in your vehicle as traffic will be moved forward and arranged by BC Ferries staff to accommodate all the vehicles. Feel free to turn-off the engine though, no need to idle the vehicle.
LOADING & UNLOADING
Once it’s time to go follow the instructions of the BC Ferries staff. They’ll tell you where to go based on which lane you were assigned. Once you pull onto the ferry it’s important to park as closely to the vehicle in front of you as possible. This way more cars can get on the ferry. We suggest leaving just enough room for a person to pass.
Because it’s tight in there, it might be a good idea to pull in the side-view mirrors and be mindful of bumping doors. Oops! It’s also really important to turn off the vehicle immediately after parking and only start it once the ferry has docked and your lane has started the unloading process. This is to reduce the hazard of vehicle exhaust to you, fellow passengers and BC Ferries staff.
All major routes have WhiteSpot restaurants, also known as the Coastal Cafe, a British Columbia classic. Smaller routes tend to have a more cafe like experience that’s good for a snack. There’s not much to say here other than during busy times it’s always greatly appreciated that once you’re done eating you make room for other passengers waiting for a table. Oh, and even if you aren’t traveling with kids, try a Pirate Pack just for fun. Bon appetit!
Nothing is more glorious than that feeling of the warm sun on your face and the sea breeze blowing through your hair, or if you have no hair, then caressing your skin. It’s a magical treat to be on the upper deck during your crossing and people tend to find a spot anywhere they can to relax. Just be aware that once you launch the ship will sound its horn, and can sometimes startle kids. The ship's captain always announces a little warning before hand though so you’ve time to prepare those little ears.
If you’re extra fortunate you might spot some orca’s during the crossing. The captain will usually make an announcement so everyone can get a chance to see.