Help with Ferries!

Aug 4th, 1999, 05:05 AM
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Help with Ferries!

We will be arriving in Seattle next Wednesday at 11:30AM and need to find out which ferry to take to Victoria (we'll be in Victoria for the first two nights). It looks like there is only one afternoon ferry from Anacortes, at 3:20 - not sure if we will be able to make that on time since they recommend getting there at least an hour in advance. Should we try to take the Victoria Clipper out of Seattle instead and rent a car in Victoria? Any other options?

Aug 4th, 1999, 08:22 AM
Bob Brown
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Why not rent a car in Seattle, drive to Tsawwassan, and take the BC ferry over to Swartz Bay. From there it is about a half hour drive along the Pat Bay Highway to downtown Victoria.
The crossing takes about 1.5 hours, plus docking time and un/loading. Ferries run frequently. There is a good BC Ferries website that Yahoo will pinpoint for you quickly. You want the route between Tsawwassan and Swartz Bay.

If you have a car, you can see a lot more around the area, including Butchart Gardens. I am not much of a garden person, but Butchart hit me as being special.
Aug 4th, 1999, 10:14 AM
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Thanks Bob - can you tell me how long it would take to drive to Tsawwassan from Seattle? This looks like the best option since it there are ferries that leave every hour.
Aug 4th, 1999, 03:03 PM
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The BC ferries are the most frequent, running every hour until 9:00 or 10:00 pm.

Another interesting way would be to drive up to Port Angeles and take the Coho ferry which crosses in an hour and a half. It takes you and your car right into downtown Victoria. I believe they have sailings at 5:15 and 9:30 pm.

The Princess Marguerite III car ferry out of Seattle has a sailing at 3:30 pm according to their website but it is a slower and not particularly scenic trip. I enjoyed it though.

The Anacortes ferry would be my last choice.

Here are some ferry websites:

Victoria Clipper and Princess Marguerite III:

Aug 4th, 1999, 03:08 PM
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Of course, you could take the Marguerite from Seattle without a car. It docks at Odgen Point - a 15 or 20 minute walk to downtown Victoria. With luggage, maybe take a cab.
Aug 4th, 1999, 08:08 PM
Bob Brown
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Hi Pete. The trip between Seattle and Vancouver - Tsawwassen is traffic dependent. That freeways around and through Seattle can backup like Atlanta, which is to say that between 4 and 7 PM you might as well have some good tapes to listen to. Because you are arriving at 11:30, hopefully you can get your luggage and car and highball it out of Seatac Airport and onto the freeway headed north. The distance to Tsawwassen is about 150 miles, most of which is on Interstate. So given good conditions, e.g. no massive jams because a semi flipped over in the middle of the highway, I think 2 hours and 45 minutes should should get you to the terminal. There will be a little delay at the border. I have never crossed into Canada at that point, but at the others further inland I usually get through quickly because I have no firearms, no liquor, no tobacco, and don't act like anything special.

On leaving Seatac Airport, you can pick up the Interstate just to the north. My suggestion is to take route 518 which leads directly to the Interstate routes. I suggest going north on I 405 as opposed to I 5. Be alert, however, because 518 is amongst some steep little hills. I 5 goes directly through downtown Seattle whereas 405 skirts to the east. I hope a frequent Seattle commuter will answer the question as to which route is best.

After you clear customs at the border, head on toward Vancouver on Route 99, but look carefully for the ferry signs. (I found the terminal in the early morning fog, and I thought it was never going to appear, but it is there.)
You should stay on BC highway 99 until you see the signs for the ferry. Route 17 goes to Tsawwassen. As I recall the signs will get you there.

Your credit card will be good at the ferry terminal, so don't worry about having Canadian currency. Usually the Canadians are more accommodating than we are about accepting non local money. And I have used my ATM card at the bank to obtain Canadian currency with no trouble.

For your return to the States, you should have a voter registration card and a picture ID just in case the US officials are in the mood to ask a lot of questions. I have usually crossed further inland at smaller border stations and I don't recall having to show anything. But, be prepared just in case. Usually air travelers have to produce something to prove they are American citizens. The one time I flew into and out of Calgary caused me to decide that I will simply take my passport this year. Easier that way.

If you are pushed for time, there is food service, although a little pricey, on the ferry. You can even rent a private sitting room for the voyage.

Hope this helps. By the way, in my original post, I misspelled Tsawwassen. I put an a where the final e should be.
Aug 5th, 1999, 02:28 PM
sheri doyle
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I don't think anyone has mentioned that you can make reservations on the BC ferries, which is a plus during summertime. Their website should have full information about the process. It costs an additional $15 CDN, but it's probably worth it (although if you don't mind waiting an hour, then don't bother).

I would highly recommend that you NOT take the Coho from Port Angeles as it's likely there will be long waits (4-6 hours in August is not at all unusual, and I hear horror stories every year about people being stranded there until the next day because they didn't know).

Good luck and have fun!
Aug 6th, 1999, 03:31 PM
Bob Brown
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That ferry from Port Angeles over to Victoria is often backed up as described. I was there in late August, and the wait to get to Victoria was measured in days, not hours.
We ended up going over and returning as foot passengers because the wait was so long.
Aug 6th, 1999, 10:08 PM
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Good point, Sheri and Bob. I wasn't thinking of the time of year.
Aug 10th, 1999, 04:10 PM
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I agree with BBrown, I told this ferry recently, I flew into Vancouver tho. The drive from Schwartz Bay was gorgeous, especially if you drive along the water instead of taking the Hwy. The drive from Victoria to Butchart Gardens is also really pretty.
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