For Immediate Release
October 5, 2021

BC Ferries expects very busy Thanksgiving weekend

Spirit of Vancouver Island engine trouble impacts long weekend travel on Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay route October 7-12

VICTORIA – BC Ferries expects a very busy Thanksgiving long weekend, especially on the Vancouver (Tsawwassen) – Victoria (Swartz Bay) route, while the Spirit of Vancouver Island remains out of service for repairs until further notice. Last week the vessel experienced a mechanical issue with its gearbox.

BC Ferries will provide four-ship service between Vancouver (Tsawwassen) and Victoria (Swartz Bay) over the weekend, however capacity will be reduced as a smaller Coastal Class vessel (310 vehicles and 1604 passengers and crew) subs in for the larger Spirit Class vessel (358 vehicles and 2100 passengers and crew).
What Customers Need To Know:
  • Limited bookings available on the Vancouver (Tsawwassen) – Victoria (Swartz Bay) route, BC Ferries’ most popular.
  • Customers without bookings on this route should prepare for sailing waits.
  • Customers with bookings on affected sailings are being contacted by BC Ferries’ Customer Care team to be moved to other sailings, where possible. Customers with bookings who cannot be accommodated on alternate sailings will be fully refunded.
  • New sailings have been added to the schedule at various times. Check schedule details at
  • Where space is available, customers can travel between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island on alternate routes:
    • West Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Nanaimo (Departure Bay)
    • Vancouver (Tsawwassen) – Nanaimo (Duke Point)

BC Ferries apologizes for any inconvenience customers may experience as a result of this service change.

Historically, the most popular travel times are Thursday and Friday afternoon, and Saturday morning for traffic moving from Vancouver (Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay) to Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. The most popular travel day of the long weekend will be Thanksgiving Monday, with traffic sailing from the Nanaimo (Departure Bay), Victoria (Swartz Bay) and the Sunshine Coast (Langdale).
General Long Weekend Travel Tips:
  • Book in advance – Book to secure a spot at the sailing day and time of your choice on the Tsawwassen – Duke Point and Horseshoe Bay – Departure Bay routes. Limited space is still available. Customers with flexibility can travel at less busy times and take advantage of reduced fares on these routes and travel with certainty. Book online at Customers with a booking do not experience sailing waits.
  • Be prepared for sailing waits if you do not book in advance – Sailing waits occur when demand at peak times exceeds ferry system capacity. If bookings are sold out, the best option to avoid sailing waits is to travel during less busy times. For example, Saturday or Sunday departing from Swartz Bay and Departure Bay are good times to travel.
  • Travel as a foot passenger – Leave the car at home. If possible, choose public transit or arrange to be dropped off at the terminal. Parking lots at the terminals are expected to reach capacity early in the weekend. Foot passengers can now make bookings on the Metro Vancouver – Vancouver Island routes as well as from Tsawwassen to the Southern Gulf Islands. Space remains available for foot passengers without reservations.
  • Arrive early – Customers with a booking should plan to arrive at the terminal 45-60 minutes before their scheduled departure. Walk-on passengers should arrive 45 minutes before their scheduled departure.
  • Mandatory masks – Masks are mandatory in all indoor public spaces, regardless of vaccination status, on BC Ferries vessels and at terminals for customers 12 years of age and older. This includes vehicle decks on major vessels. Some exceptions apply.
  • Southern Gulf Island customers (Salt Spring, Pender, Mayne, Galiano and Saturna Islands) are reminded the holiday Monday schedule will be in effect after 2 p.m. on Monday, October 11.
  • Respect fellow passengers and crew – High traffic volumes can be stressful for both customers and employees. BC Ferries has a zero tolerance policy for abuse, including verbal abuse, towards employees. Our employees are professionals doing their best to meet everyone’s needs.

For full schedule information, current conditions, reservations and promotional offers, please visit For the most up-to-date travel information, follow @BCFerries on Twitter.
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Media Contact:
BC Ferries, Media Relations
Victoria: (250) 978-1267

Customer Contact:
Victoria: (250) 410-1465
Toll-free: 1-888-BCFERRY (1-888-223-3779)

Note to newsrooms: For urgent media inquiries off-hours, call our emergency line at (250) 516-7211.
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