A BC ferry moves through the ocean. An island with green trees and the shoreline dotted with houses is in the background.

Travelling with BC Ferries: Travel Tips for Smooth Sailings

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With 25 routes throughout the west coast of British Columbia, BC Ferries is dedicated to providing safe and efficient travel to customers, and to connecting our coastal communities. Read on for tips on how you can make the most of your travels with BC Ferries, reduce the likelihood that you will experience sailing waits, and best enjoy your time on board. 

BC Ferries, Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay route | @localwanderer

1) Avoid sailing waits during busy periods

  • Book in advance to guarantee travel on the sailing of your choosing.
  • Reservations are strongly recommended on the following routes: Vancouver (Tsawwassen) – Victoria (Swartz Bay), Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Nanaimo (Departure Bay) and Horseshoe Bay to Langdale (Sunshine Coast).
  • If reservations are sold out, travel at less busy times—during the week on early morning and late evening sailings.
  • Stay up to date with the latest information on your day of travel. Check current conditions, service notices, and more by following @BCFerries on Twitter.
  • Arrive at the terminal 60 minutes before your scheduled departure if you have a vehicle booking, and at least 45 minutes before your scheduled departure if you have a foot passenger booking.
  • Have your booking reference number ready at the ticket booth and tap to pay for faster check-in.
  • During peak travel times, check parking availability at major terminals by visiting current conditions.
Family on BC Ferries, sailing from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay | @glamouraspirit_

2) Plan ahead and save on travel

  • Saver fares are now available from $49 for a car, driver, and reservation on select sailings between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
  • BC Seniors (BC Residents 65 years or older) can enjoy free passenger fares on select routes Monday to Thursday with valid ID.
  • If you are travelling in a group of 10 or more, you might be eligible for a discounted group rate.
  • Load your Experience™ Card to access savings on select routes.
  • Vehicles over 7 feet in height and 20 feet in length can take advantage of the over-height vehicles promotion until October 13 on select sailings between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.
The Northern Expedition sailing the Inside Passage from Prince Rupert | Northern BC Tourism/Mike Seehagel

3) Explore more of coastal BC

  • Book a coastal getaway with BC Ferries Vacations™. Packages combine hotel, return ferry, and exciting activities or extras.
  • Discover the beauty of Northern BC with packages to Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii from BC Ferries Vacations.
  • Sail into the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest with BC Ferries Vacations packages to Bella Coola.
  • Enjoy the journey! Lookout for coastal wildlife, take in the fresh air on the outer deck, and shop local on board in Passages.
  • Book with the BC Ferries Connector bus, which operates between downtown Vancouver and downtown Victoria.


Featured Image: BC Ferries Spirit of British Columbia vessel. Photo: BC Ferries

BC Ferries Terminal at Swartz Bay on Vancouver Island | Jordan Dyck

Accessible travel on BC Ferries

To ensure a safe and comfortable travel experience for all passengers, BC Ferries also provides a variety of accessibility options and travel assistance.

Accessibility Options

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