Ferry from Vancouver Island to Seattle
As our trip around the world continued we found another stretch of water to cross. Vancouver Island is, of course, an island, so we took the Victoria to Seattle Ferry to get back to the mainland. We had already entered the United States once on this trip, when we docked in Juneau Alaska, so our ESTAs had been checked and we had our entry stamps. I wasn’t sure how that would affect us now re-entering the USA but actually it was very simple.
Firstly, I’ll tell you a little bit about the Victoria to Seattle Ferry service. This is run by Clipper Vacations and is the only direct Victoria to Seattle Ferry. In the photo at the top of the page, you can see the Victoria Clipper which is the Victoria to Seattle Ferry we travelled on. The ferry runs directly from Belleville Terminal in downtown Victoria, BC’s Inner Harbor and Pier 69 in downtown Seattle.
Booking the Victoria to Seattle Ferry
Since we were on a schedule, I booked our tickets online in advance on the Clipper website. You get the best prices this way and you make sure you get a seat. There are 3 classes of seat: Economy (lower deck), Vista (upper deck) and Comfort Class (upper deck). We bought Vista-class tickets and sat on the top deck. Comfort class includes priority boarding and free tea and coffee which is nice if you don’t mind paying a bit extra.
We picked up our boarding passes the day before we travelled at the ticket office in Victoria. It’s just a short walk from downtown Victoria and we checked in early as we were in the area. However, boarding order is determined by how early your book not by how early you check-in. In fact, we were so early booking we got boarding numbers 1 and 2! It doesn’t mean you get on first unfortunately but it did mean we were in the first non-priority group to board. This is actually quite handy as although you’re guaranteed a seat it’s open seating. So when you start boarding you go upstairs and sit wherever you want. Of course, I wanted a window seat so I was very pleased to be boarding early.
Another bonus for us was that we found out that you can check your luggage at any time after 8.30 am. This was great as it meant we could check our luggage in for the ferry rather than leaving it at the hotel all day.
So, when we checked out of the hotel on Sunday morning we took our bags straight down to the Clipper ferry terminal ready for our crossing in the evening. It’s a useful service and means we didn’t need to return to the hotel to pick up bags before heading to the ferry terminal later on.
Finally, our time in Victoria was coming to an end so we made our way to the ferry terminal to board the ferry. US immigration was easy as we had already been processed in Alaska and so this was valid for re-entry. Due to our low boarding numbers, we were on the ferry in the first few and got good seats upstairs by the window. The crossing was pretty smooth apart from a brief moment when we crossed the wake of a tanker. The crossing takes approximately 2 hours and 45 minutes.
We were sat in rows of 3 seats so Paul was sat next to a lady from Seattle who was keen to talk to him. She spent most of the crossing giving Paul a free acupuncture lecture and advice on how to unblock his chi!!! I kept out of it and read my book.
Onboard you can get up and stretch your legs but there isn’t much to do. You can go outside at the back of the ferry but there is nowhere to walk around. Best to sit back, relax and enjoy the view.
Fares start from US$112 in low season if bought in advance. This rises to US$199 for the standard peak season fare. So well worth travelling off-peak and buying your tickets online in advance if you can.
Remember that you are crossing the border from Canada to the USA so you will go through immigration at the start and end of your journey, so take your passport or official id with you.
If you are travelling with pets then they are allowed on board but must be in a pet carrier. You should definitely book in advance if you’re taking a pet as space for them is limited.
The Victoria Clipper is a pedestrian-only ferry so no cars allowed. There are other options to get from Canada to Seattle if you are driving your own vehicle. Nearby parking is available at both terminals, however, if you want to drive to the ferry.