Victoria Clipper puts Vancouver passenger ferry plans on hold

The Victoria Clipper’s dreams of launching a passenger ferry service between Victoria and Vancouver have been put on hold until next year.

In a letter to the tourism industry, Clipper chief executive Merideth Tall said the service will start when they can “get it right.”

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“While we are fully committed to this expansion in Vancouver, we have decided to postpone the start date, and plan to launch service in spring 2017,” she said. “We've built our reputation around trust, reliability, safety and customer service for over 30 years of operating year round in this region. We are committed to getting this new service right, and a critical factor is choosing the right vessel that meets all our standards for service.

“With the wrong vessel, we know that the Salish Sea between Victoria and Vancouver can present a challenge to customer comfort. The right vessel will meet or exceed our travelers’ expectations by providing the best onboard customer experience. We are not willing to compromise Clipper quality standards or excellence.”

The decision to postpone the launch means the only passenger service that will leave from Victoria’s Inner Harbour and arrive in Vancouver this year will be operated by Prince of Whales.

The whale watching outfit has been offering a six-hour tour that takes customers from the Inner Harbour to Vancouver's Coal Harbour.

Earlier this month, Riverside Marine, which intended to start a passenger ferry between Victoria’s Inner Harbour and Coal Harbour in Vancouver this summer, announced its vessel would not likely be ready for service this year.

Brisbane, Australia-based Riverside said a complete refit of its vessel, berthed at the Wharf Street marina, is expected to take five or six months and that work will not start until at least late May.

Nick Cheong, Riverside’s vice-president of operations for the Victoria-to-Vancouver service, said transporting the vessel from Quebec took longer than expected and they are not sure when it will be ready for service.

“We recognized that when we set out to do this we could set all the targets we wanted, but what we are not willing to compromise on is the quality of the experience for the guests coming aboard,” he said in an interview in early April. “Whether it’s this summer or next summer, we won’t compromise the quality. You have one chance to give a positive impression to people on board the ship. We will not take that for granted.”

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