Victoria-Vancouver ferry undergoes makeover ahead of 2017 launch
V2V Vacations hopes to capitalize on growth in Victoria tourism with passenger ferry to Vancouver
A major refit is now underway on a ferry that is expected to move foot passengers between Victoria and Vancouver starting in 2017.
The vessel, which is nearly 40 metres long, is receiving a complete overhaul at the Point Hope Maritime shipyard in Victoria.
"It will look like a completely different boat when we are done with this," said Nick Cheong of V2V Vacations.
"It's a long way between Vancouver and Victoria, so all of the operational systems on board from your navigation systems to your propulsion systems to your safety systems, they all need to be functioning top notch."
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As part of the refit, the entire vessel has been stripped back to bare metal and will be built back up, Cheong said.
The vessel arrived in Victoria in April following a journey from Quebec that included a trip through the Panama Canal on a cargo ship.
The ship was originally called the Famille Dufour II and was built in 1995 in L'isle-aux-Coudres, Quebec, the company said. The ship used to move guests from Quebec and Montreal to hotels along the St. Lawrence River.
Passenger ferry service between Victoria and Vancouver has been tried in the past without success, but Cheong said growth in tourism in recent years makes the route more financially viable.
The company is also taking steps to tame the rough seas that made passengers sick on previous passenger ferry attempts on the Victoria to Vancouver crossing.
"We are taking precautions like having stabilizing fins on board to help with that comfort element when it comes to managing the rough conditions of the sea," he said. "We are doing what we can to tame the beast that is the sea."
The ship will depart from Victoria's inner harbour and will dock in Vancouver's Coal Harbour. More details on fares and schedules will be available closer to the launch, planned for 2017, Cheong said.
The main focus of the service is tourists, but commuters may also find the harbour-to-harbour route useful, he said.
V2V Vacations could be one of two companies launching passenger ferry service between Victoria and Vancouver next year.
Clipper Navigation, which already operates passenger ferry service between Victoria and Seattle, announced in April that it also plans to add Vancouver as a destination starting in 2017.