We have traveled on this ferry for 49 years! It is reliable and well maintained and one of the best routes to Vancouver Island.
What has changed for the better after many years is that you can reserve ahead by phone or Internet, the staff has become friendly and helpful. This after many years of grouchy, unfriendly staff and no reservations . Formerly it was first come, first served and getting your car in line hours ahead .
It is an International crossing and both customs and immigration are required gauntlets to pass through. On the return from Victoria you must get in the car line 2 hours early to clear U.S. border security, which happens before boarding.
This 50 year old ferry takes an amazing amount of cars, trucks and RVs. The ship was built for ferrying trucks across a very exposed open ocean crossing on some of the most stormy passages in North America. It can be a rocking and rolling passage, like many open ocean voyages.
In good weather the crossing is spectacular and there is plenty of open deck space for experiencing fresh air open ocean sailing. Olympic Mountains dominate the view on the US side, really spectacular. Approaching Victoria another spectacular shoreline view is followed by passage through a narrow harbor to the dock.
During crossing there is always interesting ship traffic sailboats and occasional wildlife viewing.
BC ferries are bigger, newer and more frequent but Black Ball's Coho is an efficient crossing between Victoria and Mainland US. What is inefficient is the antiquated customs and immigration requirement between two friendly and allied great Nations. Government rigidity takes more time than the crossing itself. With passport, license plates and drivers licenses it is possible to screen travelers much faster than at present.
Lack of elevators is a real negative on this ship the only way to and from the car deck is a steep stair climb, passengers are not allowed to stay on the car deck during crossing. Handicapped folks must board and go ashore via the passenger ramp, and separately from family in ar.
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