BC Ferries provides year-round service on 24 routes throughout coastal British Columbia, with a fleet of 34 passenger-and vehicle-carrying ferries. The ferry route of special interest to Alaska-bound travelers is the “Inside Passage” service between Port Hardy (on Vancouver Island) and Prince Rupert, and service to Vancouver Island from mainland ports out of Vancouver, BC at Tsawwassen and Horseshoe Bay.
Inside Passage service between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert offers a convenient connection with the Alaska Marine Highway at Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert is located 450 miles/724 km west of Prince George via the Yellowhead Highway. Port Hardy is 312 miles/502 km north of Victoria via Trans-Canada Highway 1 and BC Highway 19. NOTE: The Port Hardy ferry leaves from Bear Cove terminal, which is 6 miles from Port Hardy.
Inside Passage summer service between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert is aboard the MV Northern Expedition, carrying 600 passengers and 130 vehicles. This ferry has an expanded range of cruise-ship-like food service options to include a fine dining buffet, a relaxed atmosphere grill/cafeteria, as well as solarium seating, a gift shop, lounge, children’s playroom, 55 modern staterooms, travel information and many other amenities.
Summer service on this route is during daylight hours, so cabins are not necessary for the 16-hour trip, although cabins are available for day-use or round-trip passengers. (Passengers cannot stay onboard while ferry is in dock due to Transport Canada Regulations.) The ferry goes up one day and comes back the next. (Winter sailings include an overnight aboard the Northern Adventure with fewer scheduled sailings than in summer.) Check-in time is 2 hours prior to departure.
Keep in mind that both the northbound and southbound Inside Passage sailings arrive at Prince Rupert and Port Hardy respectively at 11:30 P.M. By the time you drive off the ferry, it will be midnight. Local campgrounds in both Prince Rupert and Port Hardy will accommodate RV guests arriving at this late hour, but it is a good idea to call ahead for reservations and let them know you will be on the ferry.
Inside Passage travelers can extend their visit from Prince Rupert out to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands) via the MV Northern Adventure. BC Ferries provides 5-day-a-week service to Skidegate on Graham Island in Haida Gwaii. Crossing time is about 7 hours, with one overnight sailing a week (cabins are available).
To reach Vancouver Island, travelers may use the passenger and vehicle ferry service to Victoria out of Port Angeles, WA, available from Black Ball, or take BC Ferries passenger and vehicle service from Tsawwassen, south of Vancouver, to Swartz Bay.
Travelers may also take BC Ferries service from Tsawwassen to Duke Point/Nanaimo (2 hours) or from Horseshoe Bay, west of Vancouver, to Departure Bay/Nanaimo (1 hour and 40 minutes). Be aware that during commuting hours on around weekends and holidays, lines can be long. From Nanaimo it is 251 miles/405 km—or about a 5 hour drive—to Port Hardy, the departure point for BC Ferries Inside Passage service. If you are driving from Victoria to Port Hardy, allow at least 7 hours. Ferry routes connecting Vancouver and Vancouver Island are serviced by a modern fleet of ferries including 3 Super C class vessels providing the ultimate in comfort for your passage.
Vancouver Island is a popular destination for vacationing mainland residents and deservedly so. Alaska-bound motorists taking the BC Ferries Inside Passage route should allow plenty of time in their itinerary to visit the island’s many attractions.
Schedules: BC Ferries Summer 2017 Inside Passage (Port Hardy–Bella Bella/Klemtu–Prince Rupert) is available online. Travelers are advised to check the online schedule prior to traveling.
Tsawwassen–SwartzBay, HorseshoeBay–Departure Bay, and Tsawwassen–Duke Point ferries sail daily year-round, with frequent (only TSA_SWB is hourly in the summer) sailings from early morning to late evening during summer with naturalists onboard in summer. Schedules are no longer printed, visit website for current schedules on all routes.
Fares: Inside Passage peak (regular) season passenger fares are from May 1 to Oct. 1. Shoulder and off-peak season rates are reduced. These lower fares are available during the fall, winter and spring when service is less frequent.
All fares shown are in Canadian funds. Terminals accept Visa, Mastercard, American Express or cash, but most terminals cannot accept debit cards (the exceptions are Port Hardy/Bear Cove and McLoughlin Bay, which can accept debit cards for payment). At press time, Inside Passage regular/off-peak passenger fares one-way to/from Port Hardy and Prince Rupert were: $206 regular/$202.05 adult passenger; $103 regular/$101 child, 5 to 11 years; under 5 years of age, free. (Special fares apply for BC residents on school events and for disabled and senior BC residents.) Vehicle fares one-way for vehicles up to 7 feet high, up to 20 feet in length: $469 regular/$460.05, plus an additional $40 regular/$39.20 for each extra foot over 20 feet. Other one-way fares: Motorcycle, $234.75 regular/$230 (with sidecar or trailer, $356.75 regular/ $346.40; bicycle, $5; stowage (canoe, kayak, etc.) $10.
Summer cabin rates for the Northern Expedition day-cruise between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert are: Inside and wheelchair cabins, $90; outside cabins, $120.
Reservations: Passenger and vehicle (private passenger or recreational vehicle with or without a trailer) reservations are strongly advised for the Inside Passage. Reservations are less essential, but still recommended for the frequent Island to Vancouver routes. For reservations, phone 1-888-223-3779 in North America; phone 250-386-3431 from outside North America.
Reservations can be made online. Cancellations made fewer than 30 days prior to departure are subject to a cancellation fee.
BC FERRIES SUMMER 2017 INSIDE PASSAGE
June 19–September 14, 2017, M.V. Northern Expedition
Dep. Port Hardy 7:30 a.m.-Arr. Prince Rupert 11:30 p.m.
Dates: June: 19, 21, 23, 25, 27, 29; July odd-numbered days
August even-numbered days; Sept. 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13
En Route Stop: Bella Bella 12:50 p.m.-Dep. 1:50 p.m.
Dates: June: 19, 21, 25, 27, 29; July odd-numbered days except 1, 7, 15, 21, 29
August even-numbered days except 4, 12, 18, 26; Sept. 3, 5, 7, 11, 13
En Route Stop Klemtu: 3 p.m., Dep. 4 p.m.
Dates: June: 23; July 1, 7, 15, 21, 29; August 4, 12, 18, 26; Sept. 1, 9
Dep. Prince Rupert 7:30 a.m.-Arr. Port Hardy 11:30 p.m.
Dates: June 20, 22, 24, 26, 28, 30; July even-numbered days;
August odd-numbered days; Sept. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14*
En Route Stop: Bella Bella 5:10 p.m., Dep. 6:10 p.m.
Dates: June 22, 24, 26, 30; July even-numbered days except 4, 12, 18, 26;
August odd-numbered days except 1 ,9, 15, 23, 29; Sept. 2, 4, 8, 10, 12, 14*
En Route Stop: Klemtu 3 p.m., Dep. 4 p.m.
Dates: June 20, 28; July 4, 12, 18, 26; Aug. 1, 9, 15, 23, 29; Sept. 6, 12
*Sailings by M.V. Northern Adventure