British Columbia

B.C. Ferries sailings packed on busy long weekend Monday

B.C. Ferries cancelled several sailings between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island early Monday due to high winds, creating delays on an already busy travel day across the province.

Wind cancelled some sailings between Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island early in the day

B.C. Ferries passengers are seen lined up outside the Duke Point terminal on Vancouver Island on Monday. (Mel Hawthorne/Twitter)

There were multiple-sailing waits on some major B.C. Ferries routes on Monday, after bad weather led to delays at the start of an already busy travel day across the province.

Routes between Metro Vancouver and Nanaimo, B.C., were particularly busy. By 3:45 p.m. PT, drivers without a reservation were told they'd have to wait more than three hours for the next available sailing from Departure Bay to Horseshoe Bay, or seven hours to travel from Duke Point to Tsawwassen. 

Sailings from the Southern Gulf Islands to Tsawwassen were fully booked for the day by early afternoon.

"For people who may have flexibility in their travel plans, it's a good idea to have a look at maybe taking a later sailing if you don't have your advance booking ... or sometimes the early [Tuesday] morning sailings that have more capacity," said Astrid Chang, who manages corporate communications for B.C. Ferries.

"This Monday is one of the more popular times of the entire long weekend to be travelling — people who don't have advance reservations should be prepared to wait."

Chang said there could be room for foot passengers on sailings where car space is already full, for those who are able to walk on.

Round-trip sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Departure Bay were cancelled through Monday morning due to high winds in the Strait of Georgia.

Winds through the strait were expected to reach up to 70 km/h on Monday, with gusts up to 90 km/h. An advisory from Environment Canada was lifted midday.

The ferry running between the Southern Gulf Islands and Tsawwassen was also briefly behind schedule Monday, but not due to the weather: the ship was late because of a mechanical issue with one of its watertight doors.

A ferry is seen on the open sea.
B.C. Ferries' Queen of Cowichan vessel is seen in an undated photo. B.C. Ferries has warned travellers to expect delays Monday, with long weekend crowds colliding with windy weather on Vancouver Island. (Scott Arkell/Supplied by BC Ferries)

Officials with B.C. Ferries had warned travellers to prepare for a busy day on Monday as the first long weekend without public health restrictions comes to a close.

The advice from Vancouver International Airport and RCMP was similar, asking travellers to brace for potentially long lineups at the airport and Canada-U.S. border crossings on land.

Sunwing Airlines travellers stranded

In a separate issue, travellers trying to fly home to Canada on Sunwing Airlines were delayed by a network-wide system outage on Monday. The problem has affected check-ins, boardings and delayed more than 40 flights for more than 12 hours.

Travellers were stuck at the airport in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Monday after Sunwing Airlines encountered a severe network issue. (Supplied by Alyssa Kelly)

The Toronto-based carrier said in an email that the problem stems from its reservation systems provider, which also serves other airlines, snarling their traffic.

"People are trying to find the best in it, I guess ... but it's incredibly frustrating to end a holiday this way," said Alyssa Kelly, who was supposed to fly home to Vancouver from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on Sunday. 

By Monday morning, Kelly's flight had been delayed for more than 18 hours. She said she paid for her own hotel stay Sunday night with "very little communication" from Sunwing.

Canada eased its pandemic re-entry restrictions on April 1, meaning fully vaccinated travellers no longer need to get a negative PCR test for COVID-19 before entering the country by land, air or sea.

With files from Jessica Cheung