Skip the lineups, charter your own BC Ferries vessel

If you’ve ever been caught in lineups and delays at a BC Ferries terminal, you know how frustrating the waits can be.

However, there is an option you’ve probably never considered — chartering your very own sailing.

If you want an extra run outside of the regular schedule, need a floating film set, or simply want to invite all your friends and play Love Boat, it’s totally possible.

“It’s a unique service we offer, subject to crew and vessel availability, where you can charter a BC Ferries vessel outside of our regularly scheduled sailings to get your guests to and from a location throughout coastal BC,” said BC Ferries’ senior communication advisor Reet Sidhu, who added the most common request is for an extra sailing before or after regular sailings.

If you’ve ever been caught in lineups and delays at a BC ferry terminal, you know how frustrating the waits can be. Have you considered chartering your own sailing? (Courtesy BC Ferries)

“It’s really just a scenic opportunity to get your crew or employees to or from a large function or event.”

While that is typically done on the smaller routes, she says it is possible to charter larger vessels, too.

“I’m not aware of any route restrictions. I think it depends a lot more on the availability of our crew and vessels outside of our regular sailings. Our number one priority is ensuring the public gets access during the regular schedule, but we can pretty much get you any island if it’s available.”

So, technically, it is possible to charter the Queen of Coquitlam for your kids’ birthday party or staff Christmas cruise.

“You could. Absolutely,” Sidhu told CityNews. “You can go on our website under ‘Contact Us’ and there is a charter form you can fill out and submit. Our customer support department would look at that and then respond to you in a timely manner, but this is something that is usually planned out weeks or months in advance, for the most part. That’s what we would recommend.”

Sidhu says the film and TV industry is also a repeat charter customer, with a number of productions renting both terminal and ferry space.

“We had a Disney Channel movie (Descendants) shot on board and we’ve also had a Netflix production called Maid and another film called Murder in a Small Town just this past February. We also recently did a charter for Transport Canada, as well.”

But before you start planning, you might want to consider the cost.

“It can vary, depending on the capacity of the vessel and what you are booking for. It can start around $1,700 per hour for a vessel that has a capacity of about 260 passengers,” she explained.

“A larger Coastal Class vessel could be upwards of $12,000 per hour because it has a capacity of about 1,500 passengers. And there is a four-hour minimum.”

If you’d like ferry food to feed your event, catering is also available for an extra cost. BC Ferries also adds there is little wiggle room when it comes to scheduling extra sailings during the peak travel season, making charters outside the summer months an easier proposition.

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