Brace for sailing waits, B.C. Ferries says as ferries fill up with long-weekend travellers

Drivers without reservations on popular ferry sailings faced waits of four to five hours Friday on what is historically the busiest weekend of the year, as customers fill up bookings and waiting space.

B.C. Ferries is cautioning that travellers without reservations will face multiple sailing waits at peak travel times. It recommends travellers consider riding as foot passengers and getting picked up on the other side.

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On Friday, Queen of New Westminster, running between Tsawwassen and Swartz Bay, was on a modified scheduled and its final round trip was cancelled because of a crew issue. Coastal Celebration was to make an additional round trip to make up for the cancelled Queen of New Westminster sailing.

Many sailings between the mainland and Vancouver Island were at capacity.

On Friday, the busiest sailings were from the mainland, which means on Monday, ferries leaving Vancouver Island are expected to be extra busy. Spokeswoman Deborah Marshall said Tuesdays after a long weekend are also a popular day to sail.

As of July 1, B.C. Ferries increased its capacity to 100 per cent from 75 per cent, which was intended to allow physical distancing because of the pandemic.

On Thursday, passenger numbers across the fleet were down 12 per cent from the same day last year, Marshall said, while vehicles were up by one per cent.

Meanwhile, B.C. Ferries is reminding dog owners to bring water for their pets. The coolest area is on the upper car deck, where there can be more of a breeze than on the lower deck. That deck is also where owners from any deck can bring their dogs to the designated pet area and remain with them during the voyage.

To follow the status of sailings, go to @BCFerries on Twitter or view bcferries.com/current-conditions.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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