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BC Ferries offers advice for Thanksgiving long-weekend travel

“If you are travelling without a booking, you may experience sailing waits during popular sailing times.”
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Coast Reporter file photo

BC Ferries is offering advice for people who want to avoid the busiest times for travel on the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend.

As it does every holiday weekend, BC Ferries is recommending travellers make a reservation, and in an Oct. 6 release said, “If you are travelling without a booking, you may experience sailing waits during popular sailing times.”

The ferry company said travellers without reservations who want to avoid waits on the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route should consider the 9:10 p.m. and 11:20 p.m. sailings out of Horseshoe Bay, and the 6:20 a.m. and 10:15 p.m. departures from Langdale.

Although there are no extra sailings scheduled for the Horseshoe Bay-Langdale route, the additional mid-afternoon round trip that usually runs on Fridays and Sundays will instead run on Friday and Thanksgiving Monday to accommodate extra long weekend traffic heading to and returning from the Sunshine Coast.

For those heading to Vancouver Island, BC Ferries recommends the 6:30 a.m. and 10:10 p.m. sailings from Horseshoe Bay to Departure Bay and the 6:30 a.m. return trip.

BC Ferries is also reminding travellers on the routes to and from Vancouver Island that they will have to leave their vehicles if they’re on a lower car deck. The Transport Canada rule does not apply to the Langdale route.

“For your safety, and the health and safety of other passengers and crew, BC Ferries requires all customers to wear non-medical masks or face coverings at terminals and while on board ferries,” the company said.

There are some exceptions to the policy and BC Ferries said customers who cannot wear a mask due to a medical condition could be asked to provide a medical certificate.

Thanksgiving is also typically a busy weekend for foot passenger traffic across the BC Ferries system.

BC Ferries recommends foot passengers arrive early and be prepared for the weather.

“For the safety of passengers, BC Ferries cannot permit crowding in its foot passenger areas so some passengers may be required to queue outdoors,” the release said. “As we have moved into the cooler fall weather, please check the forecast and bring an umbrella if necessary.”

BC Ferries also said some sailings might reach passenger capacity, meaning foot passengers may also experience sailing waits.

In her Monday briefing, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry recommended British Columbians stay close to home this Thanksgiving.

“While many of us would often travel to friends and family to spend time together, now is the time to stay closer to home and have a smaller gathering instead,” she said.

Henry and the BC Centre for Disease Control also released guidelines for “safer celebrations” this week. 

Read more from the Coast Reporter