New luxury Vancouver-Victoria passenger ferry to launch this spring

With tickets ranging from $120 to $240, the service will target luxury travellers and cruise ship passengers

With tickets ranging from $120 to $240, V2V Empress will target luxury travellers and cruise ship passengers

The V2V Empress will carry travellers from Vancouver to Victoria in about three hours. (V2V Vacations)

A new, luxury passenger ferry service connecting downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria is expected to launch this May, just in time for the start of the cruise ship season.

The V2V Empress will sail out of Canada Place and into Victoria's Inner Harbour in 3.5 hours, with tickets ranging from $120 to $240 one-way.

Ian Robertson with the Victoria Harbour Authority says the service won't compete with BC Ferries. Instead, it's tailored for luxury travellers and cruise ship passengers — those who might also consider taking a seaplane or helicopter to the island.

Pricier tickets come with a three-course meal, priority seats and more expansive views. Previously, the company had said the trip would run about $80 a ticket.

Vancouver sees thousands of cruise ship passengers every summer. (Jacy Schindel/CBC)

Cruise ship season typically peaks in Vancouver between May and September when thousands of visitors arrive and depart from the nearby terminal at Canada Place. Traffic grew by three per cent in 2016, hitting 830,000 passengers.

Nick Cheong, who will be the regional manager of the V2V Empress, has said he anticipates those months will be busy ones for the new service.

"We definitely see a demand for a service like this, particularly over the summer season," he said.

Past attempts at connector

Other companies have tried to launch Vancouver-Victoria connectors in the past. The Royal Sealink Express only ran for a year and half before folding in 1993.

Robertson believes the V2V Empress will succeed because it's marketed as a tourist experience in itself, whereas the other services were strictly for transportation.

Clipper Navigation — which already runs a passenger line between Victoria and Seattle — will be making an announcement about its anticipated Vancouver-Victoria connector in March.