Saturday, August 11, 2012

B. C. Road Trip (5): B. C. Ferries

I wanted to go to Parksvile in Vancouver Island to see the sand sculpture show so I decided to get a ferry ticket from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo because it is only half an hour drive from that city to where the show is running.
I picked up the phone in our hotel and dial B. C. Ferries number and it was an automated system. I realized that there was no ticket available for those days I wanted to go to the Island and I realized that was because of the long weekend. So I said to myself that I would get a ticket from Tsawwassan to Victoria and then would take the remaining of Highway Number 1 to Nanaimo and rest of the story. So I booked the ticket for myself and the system charged me some $17. I also wanted to be safe than sorry so I booked the returned ticker from the same route, with the same cost.
We woke up early and had our breakfast in the hotel (I will tell about the hotels we stayed in in a separate post at the end) and headed toward Delta for Tsawwassan but I guess once I took a wrong exit or missed mine and ended up in Surrey and then White Rock instead of Delta! But I asked a bus driver about the right route and managed to get ourselves there on time.
That was our first time in a ferry terminal and everything was new. I saw the long line and I turned the engine off. At the gate I was told that rather than that $17 that I had paid I would be paying more so my bill went up to some $90 one way trip! I understand that ferry has lots of cost and I really liked the organization, tidiness and promptness of the service but still didn't seem right to pay that much. Happily I do not have to cross those straits every often.
Anyways we went in and it was very busy day for the ferries, as I said. We parked the vehicle on deck 4 and claimed up the stairs. You could stay on the sun deck, inside or at the sides of the vessel and enjoy the scenery. Again there was a huge crowed of Orientals on the ship, mostly Chinese and a few Filipinos taking photos of everything moved and was still! Docking was as organized as leaving and we were on our own to go wherever we wanted.
In the evening, on the way back to Tsawwassan I realized two things: First of all booking the return ticket was a big mistake because everybody was staying. It was a long weekend! So I wasted some $17 there for nothing. Our ticket was booked for 09:00 PM but we arrived one hour early to take the 08:00 PM departure and there were barely any vehicle, may be one fifth of the number on the way to the Island. Second of all I understood why the Ferry tickets seem unreasonably expensive. The vessel left the Island while was not even half capacity full. So They have to keep the ticket price to that level in order to be in business, I guess. I remember in either 2008 or 2009 B. C. Ferries got rid of 12 mid-level managers, as a result of high cost. I wonder what else they did. The vessel we were on on the way back to the mainland was different. It had may be two restaurants and cafes and a gift shop but surprisingly there was somewhat annoying shake in the back of the vessel close to where the propellers are which could be even sensed in the gift shop!
The trip took almost an hour and a half, almost as our time going to the Island. So by the time we got to the hotel in Coquitlam it was passed 11:00 PM.
(Photo: This picture may not be very clear but shows Mont. Baker in State of Washington from inboard a B. C. Ferries while leaving Vancouver Island from Swartz Bay) 

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