New Victoria-Vancouver ferry starts service May 1, fares revealed

Updated story: V2V launches new Victoria-Vancouver ferry on May 6


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V2V Vacations says it expects to launch its passenger ferry service between downtown Victoria and downtown Vancouver on May 1 with three tiers of service, costing $120, $199 and $240 one way.

The company is billing its offering as a luxury cruise service, using the V2V Empress, a 254-seat, 126-foot catamaran that will sail from downtown to downtown in 3 1⁄2 hours.

Daily sailings will leave Vancouver at 8 a.m. and Victoria at 2 p.m., travelling from beside the Steamship Terminal Building in Victoria to the convention centre docks in Vancouver.

V2V Vacations purchased a used catamaran and is having it completely refitted for the new service. That work is “at the home stretch” at Point Hope Maritime’s yard in Victoria, said Nick Cheong, V2V Vacations’ vice-president of operations.

“A lot of the core structural work has been done,” he said.

“We’re now moving to more esthetic [work], the stuff that you can actually touch and feel, things like the external decals on the boat, creature comforts like the interior, ceiling panels.”

Cheong has said the cost of the refit will be in the millions.

Australia’s Riverside Marine, parent company of V2V Vacations, had earlier estimated a $15-million cost to establish the service.

Cheong said the company is looking forward to getting started.

“We’re both excited and obviously running full steam ahead to get this together,” he said.

“There’s still a bit to do until launch day, so all hands on deck.”

Cheong said the “tourism demographic” is the main focus, but the company also wants to attract locals.

“I wouldn’t say that it’s exclusive to one group of people.”

One-way fares (taxes not included) start at $120 for adults and $60 for children ages two to 12 in “premium comfort” class, and rise to $199 each for adults and children in first class. The highest level is “royal” class, where the price is $240 each for adults and children.

Royal class, with 22 seats, features a three-course meal, the most luxurious seats and the best views. First class also features a three-course meal and has luxury seats. Personal power ports for charging devices will be available in the two top classes.

In premium comfort class, food and beverages will be sold separately.

The company believes that its pricing will fit in with other transportation services in the area, Cheong said.

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Here are some other travel options to and from Vancouver Island:

• Harbour Air — adult fare between Victoria and Vancouver ranges from $99 with seat sales to $207 (tax included).

• Helijet — adult fare between Victoria and Vancouver from $179 (tax included), depending on time of day and other factors.

• B.C. Ferries — standard vehicle and driver from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen costs $73.65 (tax included); walk-on is $17.20 (tax included); dinner buffet is about $25; add the cost of travelling from the terminals to the downtowns.

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