Some 23 years after a similar venture failed due to lack of ridership, Saturday May 6 saw the launch of a new passenger only ferry service between the Steamship Building in Victoria Inner Harbour and Vancouver Convention Centre, Coal Harbour. The catamaran V2V Empress is owned by Riverside Marine, a family owned enterprise, based in Brisbane, that has been in business for 91 years and which is now owned and operated by the 3rd generation of the founding Campbell family. The start up cost for the new service was said to be in the region of $15 million including the cost of conversion from a dining and entertainment vessel sailing on the St. Lawrence to her new role at Point Hope Shipyard in Victoria.
Built in 1995 by Goelette Marie Clarisse, La Baleine, Quebec
Owned by V2V Vacations
GRT 465 tons
DWT 60 tonnes
Capacity 254 seats
Previous name: Famille Dufour II
After a disruptive start-up week due to electrical problems, the service is now up and running. One-way fares (taxes not included) start at $120 for adults and $60 for children ages two to 12 in Premium Comfort Class, and rise to $199 each for adults and children in first class. The highest level is Royal Class with a price of $240 each for adults and children. Royal class, with 22 seats, features a three-course meal, the most luxurious seats and the best views. The mid-range First Class option also features a three-course meal and has luxury seating. For those slumming it in Premium Comfort Class, the Air Canada models prevails i.e. food and beverages are sold separately. Personal power ports for charging devices are available in the upper two classes and wi-fi throughout.
Daily sailings depart Vancouver at 8am and Victoria at 2pm. While the company is heavily targeting the service to tourists, there is also a push to attract locals for the 3.5 hour voyage. If the service proves to be successful, the owners have floated the option of an eventual second vessel for the route and thereby offering two departures per day.
Clipper Navigation which already operates a twice daily passenger only service from Victoria to Seattle is also planning to offer a Victoria to Vancouver passenger only service beginning in the Spring of 2018.
Ship of the Week contributed by Captain Stephen Brown, West Pacific Marine Ltd.