A little over a month ago, I announced my plans on going to Vancouver Island as part of the Momondo experience series. More specifically, heading to Victoria, BC to take a break from the mountains and my outdoor excursions to spend alone time with my boyfriend that I had been neglecting while in mountaineering school.
How does one get to Victoria, BC?
Even though Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, it is only accessible by ferry (unless you want to take the scenic route and drive around the largest Pacific Island east of New Zealand). There are many ferry options to Victoria, but Andy and I focused on the Victoria Clipper. The Victoria Clipper is one of the fastest passenger vessels in the Western Hemisphere, so it was the reasonable option for a short weekend away from Seattle.
The Victoria Clipper can travel up to 30 knots or 35 mph making it a short 3 hour ride. Since it travels through the Puget Sound for the majority of the cruise, the ride is mainly smooth until reaching the Salish Sea.
Clipper Vacations offer packages to include hotel packages and tours, along with the Victoria Clipper ferry. I decided to book the hotel through Clipper Vacations to receive a discount on our room. It ended up being more pricey than anticipated, but it was worth it to avoid the stress of driving and slower transportation.
Online reservations can be made. However, I had to call their customer service to see about adding a hotel since it was only 10 days before our departure. The staff was helpful, but Victoria is a tourist destination so summer months tend to sell out fast–at least the hotels do. Even though the name suggests it is a ferry, the Victoria Clipper does not transport vehicles. Most of Victoria can be seen on foot, bike, or tour, so keep that in mind when planning.
Since crossing the border, a passport is required to ride the Victoria Clipper.
Depending on the boat, the outdoor viewing areas are limited. The lack of passenger outdoor space is probably increases the boat speed, which is a trade-off. The one on our ride to Victoria was shared with the trash dumpsters for the boat without anywhere to sit. If you get seasick easily, like myself, then you will most likely be standing to get fresh air. They also are not great for taking pictures since the decks accessible for the passengers are in the back of the boat and do not wrap around the sides. There are two floors on the boats with seats. The window seats fill up fast, so try to board early if wanting to enjoy the scenery. The boats have two levels with a cafe, gift, and duty free store. Workers walk the isles to take orders if you are patient to wait.
Free hot drinks were provided to all passengers, and the food options were limited. I ordered their vegetarian friendly light meal, which consisted of hummus and veggies. Andy ordered the Northwest meal that included smoked salmon with cheese and crackers. I recommend eating off the boat for more options. Other drinks were available for purchase.