The Victoria Clipper returned to the Inner Harbour Friday morning to mark the return of the Victoria-Seattle ferry service following a two-year hiatus and false start last fall.
On a beautiful sunny spring day with calm seas, the catamaran cruised up to the dock minutes after another Victoria-U.S. ferry, the Coho, departed and just before the Victoria Harbour Ferry Water Ballet performed its first show of the season.
“To show up today on a beautiful sunny day, it’s just amazing to have fully-vaccinated travellers traveling seamlessly up here,” said Scott Meis, vice-president marketing with FRS Clipper. “We are expecting things to continue smoothly, but the biggest challenge we are facing is staffing, which we are seeing across the maritime industry, and because of that we have had to limit us to single sailings this year when we would normally do doubles.”
While last fall’s attempt to restart the service was cancelled after less than a month due to the then-surging Delta variant and strict testing requirements at the border, Meis said this return is already looking much more promising despite staffing issues as they are starting service closer to peak tourism season and with many restrictions having been lifted.
“Demand is strong, really strong. We are seeing more than we can really handle because of those staffing issues, but as we staff up, I think it will be our path back and we see this operation coming back really strong.”
Meis said travel demand in the U.S. especially is stronger than expected, and this first sailing of the season was limited to 230 passengers due to available staff. The hope is they will be able to have full sailings in the next few weeks.