The Victoria BC Clipper is one of the most popular and enjoyable ways to get to Vancouver Island. A ferry service based in Seattle, it primarily provides voyages to the wonderful British Columbian capital city of Victoria, though there are also seasonal trips to the San Juan Islands. The trips only take a few hours, and on some, it is possible to enjoy a whale watching excursion on the side should passengers wish to take advantage.
Victoria Clipper vacations can be just what the doctor ordered when a break from the everyday grind is in order. Once passengers board one of the Clipper boats at Pier 69 in downtown Seattle, they are soon off on a journey that is bound for either Vancouver Island or the San Juan Islands. Both are amazing vacation destinations, even if you are only planning on venturing out for the day and returning on the round trip voyage.
Along the way, passengers aboard the Victoria Clipper ships can enjoy amazing views of the Pacific Northwest landscape as they move through the Puget Sound and other regional bodies of water. After the Puget Sound, ships bound for Victoria pass through the Strait of Juan de Fuca before docking at the city's Inner Harbour. As for the ships that are bound for the San Juan Islands, they dock at Friday Harbor after passing through the Strait of Georgia.
Victoria BC Clipper uses two high-speed catamarans for its trips between Seattle and Victoria. Both ships measure around 130 feet long, are approximately 30 feet wide, and can accommodate some 300 passengers and up to ten service attendants. The top speed that these catamarans can reach is 30 knots, and the trips that they take between Seattle and Victoria last between two and three hours. While on board, guests can secure a seat or a table inside or opt to enjoy the views from the outside deck. Gift shops and duty free shops provide shopping opportunities, and it is possible to order both food and drinks.
The other catamaran that figures among the Victoria Clipper ferry fleet is a little smaller and can reach a top speed of around 25 knots. As is true of the larger Clipper ships, it offers indoor seats and tables, as well as an outside deck area and some shops. Known as the Victoria Clipper III, the smallest of the Victoria BC Clipper ships handles the Seattle to San Juan Islands route, and it is also used for whale watching excursions. The whale watching excursions can be added to the picture on trips to the San Juan Islands, or they can be enjoyed on their own. The trips that only involve whale watching originate out of the SJI hub in Friday Harbor.
The Victoria Clipper Ferry trips from Seattle to the San Juan Islands take around three and a half hours. The service is seasonal only and is offered from late May to late September. Service is daily during much of this period, with the last month or so seeing Saturday and Sunday service only. Departure time for the Seattle to San Juan Islands voyages is 7:45 a.m. On the other hand, the return trips from the San Juan Islands to Seattle depart at 4:30 p.m.
For those who wish to take a Victoria BC Clipper ferry from Seattle to Victoria, service is pretty much available on a daily basis throughout the year. Only on December 25 and from January 4 through January 14 do the catamarans take a break. During the peak May through September season, service is increased to include either two or three daily sailings. During the rest of the year, only one daily sailing is offered. The schedule times vary according to season, though you can generally expect to board at around 8 a.m. or 3 p.m. on the Seattle side, depending on whether you prefer a morning or afternoon voyage. The return trips back from Victoria embark at around 5 or 6 p.m., giving passengers plenty of time to enjoy Victoria attractions such as Butchart Gardens before getting back on the ship.
Staying overnight in Victoria or the San Juan Islands is definitely an option when arranging a voyage on one of the Victoria BC Clipper ferries. The company that offers the ferry service also offers enticing package deals that can involve overnight stays in both destinations, and they are understandably popular with Seattle residents and visitors alike. It is also possible for ferry passengers to arrange accommodations and such on their own.
Victoria Clipper Ferry passengers need to have a valid passport or an Enhanced ID Card in order to cross the US/Canada border. Also necessary is the need to pass through Customs and Border Protection, which is a relatively simple process. These general rules apply to anyone who is crossing the border by land or sea. U.S. states and Canadian provinces that offer Enhanced ID Cards include Washington State, New York State, and Quebec, just to name a few.