Our staff and crew are ready to welcome you on board this winter season. As temperatures shift and conditions change, you can take steps to make your travel experience more comfortable:
 

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Travel tips for the winter season

Here are our top tips for travel on BC's coast this winter season:

  1. Check current conditions and all routes at a glance for the status of your sailing on your day of travel.
  2. Follow @BCFerries on X for regular updates, seven days a week.
  3. Book your travel in advance to avoid the possibility of sailing waits during peak travel times, especially over holiday weekends.
  4. Consider public transport, carpooling or travel as a foot passenger during peak travel times to avoid sailing waits. Vehicle deck space fills up quickly during peak travel times. For schedule information visit TransLinkBC Transit or BC Ferries Connector Service.
  5. Give yourself extra time to get to the terminal and check in for your sailing.
  6. Walk slowly and step carefully at terminals and on board, especially on outer decks. 
  7. Follow @DriveBC for the latest on road conditions on your day of travel.
  8. Follow local traffic laws: obey posted speed limits on all roadways, including rural communities like the Southern and Northern Gulf Islands.
  9. Read our tips on travelling with pets here


Ensuring bcferries.com performs at its best

We've introduced a virtual waiting room that will help our website perform at its best when an extremely high number of customers are making a booking on bcferries.com. During these times, some customers will be placed in a first-in, first-out waiting room that displays their place in the queue and an estimated wait time. This will not impact customers using the website to access sailing schedules, current conditions or other information which will be available to everyone, at all times. Virtual waiting rooms are a common tool used to prevent slow website performance and outages during periods of high traffic. Find more information on the virtual waiting room here.

 

Respect our staff and crew

High traffic volumes can be stressful for both customers and employees. We do not tolerate any abuse, including verbal abuse, towards employees. Our employees are doing their best to meet everyone’s needs and we take this matter seriously. We will deny service to any customer who abuses an employee.

For more information view our conditions of carriage, policies and regulations.
 

Winter driving tips

Road conditions will change as temperatures shift and drop across the province. Please stay up to date with road conditions on travel days by following @DriveBC on X and visiting their Winter Driving webpage for tips on driving safely this winter season.

Avoid sailing waits with these travel tips

Nobody likes to wait at the terminal and our staff and crew will do their best to get you to your destination as safely and efficiently as possible. Here are some tips for you to reduce the chances of experiencing sailing waits. Region-specific travel tips are also available below.

Book lower fare choices
With Saver fares from $49 for a standard vehicle and driver, travel for less by sailing at off peak times between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island or the Sunshine Coast. Includes a free reservation. Learn more about Saver fares.
Parking at our terminals
Parking lots at major terminals fill up quickly during peak periods. If possible, choose public transit or arrange to be dropped off at the terminal to avoid traffic congestion. When parking lots fill up, we inform customers via @BCFerries on X and on our website.
Book in advance
Booking your spot on the ferry is the best way to guarantee travel on a sailing of your choosing.

Book online now
Stay up to date
For the latest information on your day of travel, check current conditions and service notices on our website, or follow @BCFerries on X.
 
 
Travel at less busy times

Sailing waits are most common during peak travel periods and especially over holiday weekends. If bookings are sold out, plan to travel during less busy times to avoid sailing waits. Less busy times are typically during the week and early morning or late evening sailings.

Arrive prepared

Arrive at the terminal 45-60 minutes before your scheduled departure if you have a vehicle booking and arrive 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 to for a faster check-in.

Car alarms

As a courtesy to crew, other passengers and their pets, consider not activating your vehicle alarm while on board the ferry. Thank you in advance.

 

Prevent leaks and spills

Uncontained oil & vehicle fluid leaks can reach rivers, streams, lakes and the marine environment, potentially harming fish, wildlife & degrading habitat.

Checking your vehicle for oil & other fluid leaks prevents leaks and spills and protects BC's coast when you travel.
 

Wi-Fi

Complimentary BC Ferries Wi-Fi is available at 21 terminals. Wi-Fi on board vessels is not available due to the unreliability of the ship-to-shore networks.

Terminals with complimentary Wi-Fi


Metro Vancouver

  • Vancouver (Tsawwassen)
  • Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay)
Vancouver Island
  • Victoria (Swartz Bay)
  • Nanaimo (Departure Bay)
  • Nanaimo (Duke Point)
  • Nanaimo (Nanaimo Harbour)
  • Vancouver Island (Buckley Bay)
Sunshine Coast
  • Sunshine Coast (Langdale)
  • Powell River (Saltery Bay)
Central Coast
  • Port Hardy (Bear Cove)




Southern Gulf Islands

  • Salt Spring Island (Vesuvius Bay)
  • Salt Spring Island (Long Harbour)
  • Pender Island (Otter Bay)
  • Saturna Island (Lyall Harbour)
  • Gabriola Island (Descanso Bay)
  • Galiano Island (Sturdies Bay)
  • Mayne Island (Village Bay)
Northern Gulf Islands
  • Denman Island East (Gravelly Bay)
  • Quadra Island (Heriot Bay)
  • Cortes Island (Whaletown)
  • Cormorant Island (Alert Bay)

Travel tips by region

South Coast
Routes between Metro Vancouver and Vancouver Island 
Plan ahead

We strongly recommend to book in advance on the following routes:

  • Vancouver (Tsawwassen) – Victoria (Swartz Bay)
  • Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Nanaimo (Departure Bay)

If no bookings are available on these routes, consider booking travel between Vancouver (Tsawwassen) and Nanaimo (Duke Point) or travel during less busy times.

 

Popular travel times

The most popular travel times are usually Thursday afternoon, Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, with lots of travellers departing from Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay terminals.


 

Lower vehicle decks

Passengers in vehicles on enclosed lower vehicle decks must leave their vehicles during the sailing to comply with Transport Canada’s safety regulation.

 

Parking

Parking lots fill up quickly, especially on holiday weekends. Check parking percentage availability at major south coast terminals with current conditions.

 

BC Ferries Connector

The BC Ferries Connector bus operates between the downtown Vancouver bus terminal (Pacific Central Station) to the downtown Victoria terminal (Capital City Station). View schedule.

Gulf Islands
Southern and Northern Gulf Islands routes
Peak travel times

If bookings are sold out for sailings to the Gulf Islands you can add yourself to a waitlist online. If we can confirm your booking prior to departure, we will contact you with the details. If we have not confirmed your booking within 24 hours of the scheduled departure, consider travelling via a thru fare that connects through Victoria (Swartz Bay).

To check if a sailing is sold out, select the Southern Gulf Islands route and dates you want to travel here, enter your passenger and vehicle information, then continue. If a sailing is full, you will see "Reservations sold out" and an option to add yourself to the waitlist. Select "Add yourself to waitlist" and complete the form to get on the waitlist.

 

Vehicle and foot passenger bookings

You can book vehicle and foot passenger travel in advance from Vancouver (Tsawwassen) to:

  • Pender Island (Otter Bay)
  • Galiano Island (Sturdies Bay)
  • Mayne Island (Village Bay)
  • Saturna Island (Lyall Harbour)
  • Salt Spring Island (Long Harbour)

Note: Sailings departing from Vancouver (Tsawwassen) provide service to Swartz Bay (Victoria), Duke Point (Nanaimo) and the Southern Gulf Islands.

 

Thru fares

Thru fares provide more sailing options for customers travelling to the Southern Gulf Islands. With a thru fare, you can travel between Vancouver (Tsawwassen) and the Southern Gulf Islands via a connection at Victoria (Swartz Bay) for the same price. This is a good option when direct sailings are sold out. Learn more about thru fares.

 

Terminals without ticket agents

When you arrive at the terminal, follow signage and park in the first available vehicle lane. Some lanes at terminals are designated based on your vehicle type. You will be loaded on the next available sailing based on space on board.

 

Travel safely through coastal communities

Help us keep the communities we serve safe. Obey speed limits, watch for pedestrians and cyclists and maintain a safe distance. During popular times to travel there may be vehicles queuing on roads approaching terminals.

If you need to exit your vehicle, watch for oncoming traffic and cyclists. Please care for the community you’re in by leaving space around driveways, disposing of litter and respecting private property.

 

Waitlists

If bookings are sold out for sailings to the Gulf Islands you can add yourself to a waitlist online. If we can confirm your booking prior to departure, we will contact you with the details. If we have not confirmed your booking within 24 hours of the scheduled departure, consider travelling via a thru fare that connects through Victoria (Swartz Bay).

To add yourself to a waitlist, select the Gulf Islands route and dates you want to travel, enter your passenger information, select "Add yourself to waitlist" under the list of sailings, then complete the waitlist form.

Sunshine Coast
Routes between Metro Vancouver/Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast
Book in advance

Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Sunshine Coast (Langdale) is one of our busiest routes. We strongly recommend booking in advance. If bookings are sold out, we recommend travelling during less busy days and times. These include:

  • Mid-week days
  • Early morning or late evening sailings


 

Arriving at Horseshoe Bay in a vehicle

During busy travel times, look out for traffic flaggers as you approach the ticket booths at Horseshoe Bay. Let our staff know if you have a booking and they will direct you to the correct lane. Once at the terminal, listen to announcements and follow the direction of our staff who will guide you during boarding.

 

Arriving at Horseshoe Bay as a foot passenger

TransLink offers service between Vancouver and Horseshoe Bay via the 257 Horseshoe Bay Express or 250 Horseshoe Bay routes. Self-serve kiosks are available at the entrance to the departures building to purchase or your ticket or redeem your booking. Cyclists should buy their tickets at the foot passenger ticket office.

During peak travel times the pre-ticketing area can be busy, so arrive expecting a wait. Washrooms facilities are available but long lines can form quickly. Public washrooms are also available at Horseshoe Bay park from 7am to 10pm, a two-minute walk away.

 

Access to the village at Horseshoe Bay

If you arrive at Horseshoe Bay terminal with enough time to spare, you can leave your vehicle in your parking lane and walk into the village. Just remember to wait until your vehicle has been directed to its assigned lane and take your ticket with you.

 

Staying in your vehicle during the sailing

Passengers travelling between Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) – Sunshine Coast (Langdale) can stay in their vehicle for the duration of the sailing regardless of which deck they're on.

 

Travel assistance

Inform the ticket agent when you arrive at the ticket booth if you are travelling with a Travel Assistance Program (TAP) form, or if you have accessibility requirements like a wheelchair or mobility aid access.

View details on Medical Assured Loading (MAL)

Learn more about accessibility options

 

Snug Cove Berth Project Update

Starting January 8, we will be refreshing aging infrastructure at Snug Cove terminal on Bowen Island to maintain safe and reliable operations. The project is expected to be completed by the end of March 2024. We are asking customers to plan ahead for their travel during this time and we will be supporting customers during cancellations and closures with water taxis, shuttle bus service on Bowen Island, and discounted/ complimentary parking at Horseshoe Bay.

During the three month construction phase, most work will take place at night to minimize disruption of service. Modified schedules will be in place for sailings on Tuesday to Sunday which can be viewed here.

 

Travel to the upper Sunshine Coast

The distance from Langdale terminal to Earls Cove terminal is approximately 90 minutes driving time and the duration of the sailing from Earls Cove to Saltery Bay is 50 minutes.

From Saltery Bay, it’s about a 25 minute drive to Powell River and Westview terminal with service to Comox and Texada Island.

View transit options available from your departure and arrival terminal

 

Travelling northbound (Horseshoe Bay – Langdale and Earls Cove – Saltery Bay)

We schedule departure and arrival times at Earls Cove to provide enough time to drive between the Langdale and Earls Cove terminals.

Captains on the Saltery Bay – Earls Cove ferry (Malaspina Sky) regularly monitor the Horseshoe Bay – Langdale route to keep track of departure and arrival times, weather delays, traffic volumes and road conditions. They decide how long to hold the ferry for delayed traffic coming from another route based on:

  • An expected 2 hour and 20 minute travel window between Horseshoe Bay and Earls Cove in normal conditions. Captains may extend this window due to poor weather, highway conditions, etc.

  • Captains may delay departure from Earls Cove by up to 20 minutes. They balance the option to delay with the ability to make up time on their sailing and get back to the regular schedule. They also consider traffic volumes at Saltery Bay.

  • During peak traffic in the summer, the Malaspina Sky’s Captain may not be able to delay the sailing for traffic. Accumulated delays can affect southbound customers planning to proceed to a sailing at Langdale.

If the ferry on the Horseshoe Bay – Langdale route is running behind schedule, the Malaspina Sky Captain will revise the departure time from Earls Cove.

Once confirmed, onboard staff will announce the new Earls Cove departure time on the ferry travelling from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale to ensure customers proceeding to Powell River are informed.

Northbound customers travelling on departures from Horseshoe Bay:

If the ferry departs 45 minutes late or more:

  • Identify yourself at the Chief Steward’s office on board and inform staff you are travelling through to Earls Cove.

  • Listen to onboard announcements for the revised Earls Cove departure time.


 

Central and North Coast
Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Haida Gwaii, Klemtu, Ocean Falls, Port Hardy, Prince Rupert and Shearwater
Book in advance

Our Central and North Coast routes are busiest during the spring and summer months. We strongly recommended you book in advance on these routes during those seasons.

 

Arrive prepared

If you have a booking, arrive at the terminal 120 minutes prior to the scheduled departure.

 

Cabins and reserved seating

You can book cabins or seats on board the Northern Expedition and cabins on board the Northern Adventure when you book online or over the phone. If cabins are sold out, you can add yourself to a waitlist.

 

Waitlists

If sailings, cabins or amenities you try to book are sold out, add yourself to the waitlist and we will contact you if space becomes available.

To add yourself to a waitlist, select the Northern route and dates you want to travel, enter your passenger information, select "Add yourself to waitlist" under the list of sailings, then complete the waitlist form. You can also add yourself to a waitlist after you complete your Northern booking online.

If you are still on the waitlist on the day you want to travel, we recommend you try arriving at the terminal a minimum of three hours prior to the scheduled departure time. If customers with confirmed spots don’t arrive for the sailing, we fill their spots with waitlisted customers.

 

Wi-Fi

There is no Wi-Fi onboard BC Ferries vessels and due to the region there may be limited cellular coverage, so plan with this in mind. We are currently working on expanding free Wi-Fi to select terminals along the Central and North Coast.

Accessibility and travel assistance

To ensure a safe and comfortable sailing for all passengers, we provide a variety of accessibility options. View accessibility options.


BC Ferries Vacations

Explore deals and offers

Save when you bundle your ferry travel with hotels and activities.

See getaway deals >  
 

Call us

1-888-BC FERRY (1-888-223-3779 Ext. 3)
Toll-free within North America.

More phone options

Visit us at the Vacations Centre, located at 1010 Canada Place in downtown Vancouver.

 

Tourism resources

Know before you go with the help of Destination British Columbia. View current travel restrictions, highway closure info, and other key resources.

Embrace new experiences and support local communities by exploring BC this winter

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