Project Update - October 4, 2021

Spring schedule changes coming soon

Extra frequency and capacity delivered by the two new Island Class ferries on the Campbell River – Quadra Island and Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island routes are coming soon. Schedules will be available online shortly.


How we’ve responded to community feedback

Earlier this year we engaged with communities on draft schedules for the Campbell River – Quadra Island and Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island routes. We made adjustments based on the feedback we heard and will continue to review the schedules as the ships and crew settle into their new routines.

Here’s what we heard from the communities, and how we responded:



Feedback from Campbell River – Quadra Island

Community feedback

How we’ve responded

Include a sailing around 5pm to help accommodate commuter traffic

We have included a sailing at 5:30pm and 6:00pm from Sunday to Friday

Provide service on the hour and half-hour to make it easy for people to remember sailing times

We have scheduled sailings as close to the hour and half-hour as possible, taking into consideration operational requirements such as crew meal breaks and hand over processes between watches.

Be aware of the impacts of the new schedule on Cortes Island residents

We have maintained the Cortes Island schedule as it is today and are offering more opportunities to connect through to Vancouver Island than we do today.


We believe the connections will remain uninterrupted for Cortes residents. We will be watching this closely and working with the FAC to make any adjustments required once the vessels are in service.

Questions about the capacity of the new vessels to handle peak traffic

With two vessels running up to twice as often, we expect that traffic will clear more quickly and waits will be shorter during peak travel times.

Questions about the capacity of the new vessels to handle the weather conditions on this route

The Island Class vessels have similar weather handling capabilities to our Spirit and Coastal Class vessels that sail between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.


The Island Class sailed from the shipyard in Romania to Victoria under their own power and have successfully sailed in challenging weather conditions on other routes for more than a year. We are confident they can handle the winter weather conditions present on any of our inter-island routes.


Other community questions included:

What are the plans for electrification of the vessels?

The Island Class are fitted for full electric operation once shore charging infrastructure is available. We continue to work on the long-term plans for full electrification of the vessels.



Feedback from Nanaimo Harbour - Gabriola Island

Community feedback

How we’ve responded

Add a sailing in the early morning commute/school time to accommodate demand

We continue to focus on the schedule that was presented in the spring. Operational experience will confirm loading, unloading and transit times and adjustments to the published schedule are possible pending the outcomes of these activities.

Close the gap in evening sailing times to provide an additional opportunity for commuters and school children to return home at the end of the day

Close the mid-day gap in sailing times

Create ability to load and unload walk on passengers via a separate walkway

We are building a separate passenger walkway at the Nanaimo Harbour terminal to make loading and unloading more efficient.

Questions about the capacity of the new vessels to handle peak traffic

With two vessels running twice as often, we expect traffic to clear more quickly and any sailing waits will be shorter during peak travel times.

Questions about the capacity of the new vessels to handle the weather conditions on this route

The Island Class vessels have similar weather handling capabilities as our Spirit and Coastal Class vessels that sail between Vancouver and Vancouver Island.


The Island Class sailed from the shipyard in Romania to Victoria under their own power and have successfully sailed in challenging weather conditions on other routes for more than a year. We are confident they can handle the winter weather conditions present on any of our inter-island routes.


Other community questions included:

How will the new vessels impact the ability to carry commercial traffic on this route?

The extra ship will increase capacity for vehicles and provide more sailing opportunities for commercial traffic. Overall, the higher capacity will reduce the competing needs for deck space between smaller vehicles and larger commercial vehicles. Combined, we expect these factors will reduce the likelihood and potential impact of sailing waits for all vehicles.


Where will the second Island Class vessel be tied up when it is not in service?

The second Island Class vessel will be tied up at the Nanaimo Harbour Authority’s Visiting Vessel Pier on Cameron Island when it is not in service. We expect the vessel to have minimal impact on nearby residents as lights, generators etc. will not be running while the vessel is at dock. We are in direct contact with the strata councils on Cameron Island to communicate our plans and answer any questions or concerns residents may have.


What are the plans for electrification of the vessels?

The Island Class are fitted for full electric operation once shore charging infrastructure is available. We continue to work on the long-term plans for full electrification of the vessels.



Schedules will be reviewed over the coming months

We will continue to evaluate the new Island Class schedules through the first few months of service. This evaluation period provides us with an opportunity to make adjustments as the ships and crew settle into their new routines.

We will be conducting further trials on the Nanaimo Harbour – Gabriola Island route to give us more information about crossing and in-port times. Adjustments to the published schedule are possible pending the outcomes of these activities.


Learn more about the Island Class ferries

Watch the Campbell River Mirror and the Gabriola Sounder for ongoing communications about the new Island Class ferries. We will provide you with an inside look at the operational aspects and the backstory on these newest vessels to our fleet. You can also visit our Island Class webpage on bcferries.com and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news.

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