Back when I lived in Vancouver, the only real option of getting between downtown Vancouver and Vancouver Island – home to British Columbia’s capital Victoria – was by way of a large, run-of-the-mill ferry operated by BC Ferries. It’s relatively affordable – at under $20 each way – takes about 90 minutes and has food options on board, including the iconic White Spot Burgers. But it’s a fairly unglamorous way to travel – especially when just getting to/from the wharf in the first place is both a hassle and time consuming, and every one and their dog is trying to fight for a seat on board.
Well now there’s a new alternative, designed for travellers to the region who want to experience the trip in style, and enjoy the beautiful coastline along the way. And wouldn’t you know it, there’s an Australian company behind it.
V2V Vacations (owned by Riverside Marine Group, one of Australia’s leading marine companies) are inviting passengers to travel on board the V2V Empress catamaran between the Western Canadian cities, promising to navigate the regional coastline en route. And that’s because rather than having to travel up to two hours by bus to get to and from the respective BC Ferries wharves, this is the only service that will take its 242 passengers directly from the heart of Vancouver city, right into Victoria’s historic inner harbour. So even with a journey of just under three and a half hours, it it likely to take you less time than the traditional ferry service – and certainly will be more efficient and comfortable, while giving passengers the opportunity to take in the surroundings.
The V2V Empress will sail daily from March 15 to October 31, 2019, with the service now leaving Vancouver at 8am and returning in the afternoon (last year, when the service had its first full season, its timing ran the opposite direction). During high-season, between April 16 and September, the journey through Active Pass and the Georgia Strait to Vancouver will be a sunset cruise that promises to captures the city’s skyline and summer activities along the city’s famous Stanley Park Seawall. The later return time during this period will make day trips possible, though visitors will definitely be encouraged to stay the night in the capital city.
The concept for V2V was envisioned by Riverside Marine’s CEO Hume Campbell and his wife Rowan. Being lovers of the sea, they longed for an easily accessible way to get directly to Victoria from Vancouver without sacrificing the ocean experience.
“The waters of southwestern British Columbia are some of the most spectacular in the world, so it’s high time for Australians visiting the region to be offered this opportunity to voyage while enjoying the rare scenic beauty, learning about the region’s rich culture, and tasting local cuisine,” says Julian Wright, the Australian General Manager of V2V Vacations. “At V2V, we make travel convenient without the usual lengthy transfers to outlying ferry terminals, so you truly relax and prepare for exciting day trips or extended stays in two of Canada’s most scenic city destinations – vibrant and bustling Vancouver, and quaint, charming Victoria.”
On board are two classes (“Premium” and “Royal”), an impressive selection of local BC cuisine, wine and crafts beer, complimentary Wi-Fi, and access to the sundeck for a spectacular 360-degree view perfect for wildlife watching. Ergonomic leather seating wired with individual USB ports and power outlets means the trip can serve as a productive one, while a concierge service will allow guests to make bookings from an exclusively curated list of cultural and authentic attractions at both destinations. All passengers will be able to check one piece of luggage at no charge, too.
The cost of the trip for adults is CA$110 each way for Premium and CA$165 each way for Royal, with Premium passengers sitting downstairs and Royal passengers sitting upstairs. Children tickets are half price, and there are some discounts available. Those with a Royal seat will also enjoy a drink on arrival, a light three course lunch or breakfast and unlimited non-alcoholic beverages. Additional food and drink options will be available for purchase, and Premium passengers will have a menu to purchase from too.
Services commence on 15th March. For more information, visit V2V Vacations’ official website.