BC Ferry/WS Ferry

Old Feb 15th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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BC Ferry/WS Ferry

Which would be the best way to get to Victoria from Seattle on the ferry. We were going to take the Washington State ferry from Anacortes to Sidney but just discovered that the BC Ferry from Tsawwassen goes to Swartz Bay. I realize I have to drive from Seattle into Canada and it's approximately a 3 hour drive but the ferry ride would be shorter than from Anacortes. I am just curious which would be the best way to go and why? Also does anyone know if the BC ferry accepts reservations? NOTE: We need to take our car on the ferry. Any info would be great!! Thanks!
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Old Feb 15th, 2005, 05:50 PM
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The BC ferries run more often. Yes, they take reservations but it costs more.
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Old Feb 15th, 2005, 08:23 PM
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If you go to www.bcferries.com u will get all the info on the Tsawassen/Swartz Bay run. They charge extra for reservations as the other post said but it is a shorter trip (longer drive) than the Anacortes/Sidney ferry. Depends on when u are travelling and your tolerance for waiting if they have overloads. We live near Victoria and would tend to take the BC Ferries route but we may be biased!
Last time we went to Seattle we took the Coho to Port Angeles which is another option you have. It docks downtown Victoria. I don't think they take reservations and again are not as frequent.
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Old Feb 15th, 2005, 09:43 PM
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Would you know if there is a long wait even if you make reservations on either the WS Ferry or the BC Ferry? We are traveling in July on a Monday if that makes a difference.
Thanks!
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Old Feb 15th, 2005, 10:56 PM
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There won't be much of a wait for the BC ferry because you have to claim your reservation between 30 and 60 minutes before the sailing time.

I don't know if it is still true but it used to be that the nicer, larger ships left on the odd hours.

Sorry, I don't know about wait times for the Anacortes ferry.
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Old Feb 15th, 2005, 11:18 PM
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Thanks for the info April!
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Old Feb 17th, 2005, 09:34 PM
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The Spirit class ferries (nwer & much nicer) are still the odd hour sailings. They have a nice buffet if you are travelling at a meal time. Another reason to sail BC Ferries!! No I don't work for them but at times have spent a lot of my life on them!

As stated u must pick up your reservation between 60 and 30 minutes before the sailing u book. This can sometimes be an issue if, for example, u are unsure how long the border will take. Mondays in July I would expect the ferries to be quite busy.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2005, 11:50 PM
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Thanks everyone for all your great information on the ferries to Victoria. I now realize it is wiser to drive to Vancouver and take the BC Ferry from Tsawwassen/Swartz Bay route. They accept reservations (worth the extra money), they serve food and have more frequent sailings. Definitely more advantages than if I took the WS Ferry. Appreciate the responses.
PS I will be sure to book the odd hour sailing. Great tip!!
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 09:20 AM
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I know somebody who took an odd hour sailing last week and got one of the older, smaller ships, but maybe that was a temporary measure.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 09:50 AM
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You can reserve car space on the Washington State ferry international service.

The Tsawwassen crossing is only a little shorter than from Anacortes, (of course the Anacortes sailing stops in the San Juans) and border delays can eat up plenty of time in summer too. If you're crossing on a Monday to the island the crowds might be too bad on either route. The BC schedule is obviously more frequent.

The Port Angeles-Victoria crossing is also a possibility, with the advantage that the Coho goes right into central Victoria rather than Swartz Bay/Sydney for the others (then half an hour +.) No reservations taken, though, so slight chance on a Monday that you'd need to wait for the next sailing. If you're returning to Seattle after the island, though, it's our crossing of choice, because while you're in line waiting for the sailing you can wander around downtown Victoria, rather than a vast parking lot at the other terminals.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 03:05 PM
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Gardyloo:
Would you know if there are more delays in the summer doing the border crossing via ferry or border crossing via mainland in Vancouver? I am sure there is no real way of knowing for certain but generally speaking, from your experiences, how would you prefer to cross the border? I could travel on a Tuesday, if Mondays are a really bad day. Appreciate your advise.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 03:39 PM
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There are no significant delays crossing to/from Canada by ferry via Anacortes or PA. Border crossing delays on the mainland can run from okay to horrendous, depending on day of week, time of day, phase of moon, etc. Generally southbound (entering the US) is way worse than northbound, but no guarantees.

Many of the Vancouver radio stations carry border condition reports every 30 min. or so - use them religiously in your car.

Note that there are two principal crossing points south of Vancouver - the main Peace Arch (BC99/I-5) crossing, and the so-called "truck" (Pacific Hwy) crossing a little east. Cars can use either, and sometimes there are good time savings by using the truck crossing. Other times, omigod, it's way worse. Listen to the radio.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 03:41 PM
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As someone who was raised in Greater Vancouver and travelled often across the border, I don't see how a Monday will take up more time.

Note that when you get close to the border, you have a choice of two border crossings - the Peace Arch crossing (much more elaborate, monumental)... or the Douglas crossing, several blocks to the east (aka: the truck crossing). The truck crossing looks more like a regular toll stop rather than the monumental Peace Arch crossing, but during busy times it's usually much faster.

Saying that, the only time I've had long lines at a crossing are on long weekends, early Saturday afternoons, and Sunday evenings.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 04:17 PM
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I'm a broken record on this, but one important note is that if you choose the Douglas/Pac. Hwy/Truck crossing southbound, and are unlucky to get in one of the (infrequent) awful backups, make note that there's nowhere to answer Ms. Nature's call, if you get my meaning. Our record was 3.5 hours on a holiday weekend, and it was miserable. The Peach Arch park has loos you can scamper to while the cars crawl along. Just FYI.
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Old Feb 24th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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Thanks for the FYI!
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