The Victoria Clipper – Comfortable & Convenient Ride to Victoria!

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The Victoria Clipper

The Victoria Clipper

If you’re thinking of heading up to Victoria, BC, you’ll definitely want to consider traveling on the Victoria Clipper as it’s based right out of Seattle & is a very convenient option for heading up to Victoria. My husband and I recently headed up to Victoria and after considering all the options of travel to Victoria, we decided upon the Victoria Clipper.  The Victoria Clipper is a great option for those in the Puget Sound area or if you’re coming up from Oregon or out of state as it takes off right out of Seattle on the waterfront. Not only is the location convenient to board the boat,  but the Clipper is a nice, comfortable way to make your way to Victoria.

The Victoria Clipper is a passenger only ferry service that travels year-round to Victoria, as well as traveling to the San Juan Islands seasonally.  The trip to Victoria takes about 2 hours and 45 minutes, going through the Puget Sound & Straits of Juan de Fuca.   We liked the times they traveled as it was 8am – 10:45am & then we departed the next day at 5pm to arrive at 7:45pm in Seattle. Even though we only spent one night, we felt like this schedule really made it feel like 2 full days in Victoria.

Victoria Clipper Top Floor

The Clipper has 2 floors on the catamaran boat – the top floor is filled with tables which would be great for families. There are either 4 or 6 seats grouped together around a table, which would make it nice for eating, playing games and more. The top floor also has some nice views from that 2nd level.  I think the tables would definitely make great options for families to be able to have some more space & get out coloring books, a few toys, etc. With these tables, if the boat was really full, just know that they do need to fill in all the spots, so if there is room at the table, then other people may be sitting with you (like on a train), but it would be a fun way to pass the time chatting with others.

On the 2nd floor, there was also a deck where you could go outside to get some pictures or just enjoy cruising through the Puget Sound and Straits of Juan de Fuca. It was a beautiful view as we left Victoria to be able to see the Inner Harbour and all the buildings from the back of the boat.

Victoria Clipper Row Seating on Boat

The bottom floor was a combination of the table seating along with more airline style seating in the front half of the boat (but with a bit more legroom than a typical airline seat). Since we were on a trip kid-free, we enjoyed sitting in the airline seating section so we could enjoy some quiet time to read as we traveled through the islands on our way to Victoria.

We also really liked the great service found on the Victoria Clipper. The Clipper crew came to your seat and took your order & served you food & drinks if you ordered from their on-board cafe, just like on an airplane. This option was convenient & relaxing that you could stay in your seat & be served. It would be nice with kids and not having to worry about one parent getting up to get the food, but just having everything brought to you. {Of course, if you wanted to get up to stretch your legs, you could also go up to the little cafe & order there too.}  Conveniences like this while riding the Clipper made the whole trip feel much more relaxed on our way to & from Victoria.

What We Liked about the Victoria Clipper:

The Victoria Clipper in Victoria BC

When we were researching the different travel methods to get to Victoria, BC, there were a number of factors we considered. For our getaway, it was the perfect option to make us feel more refreshed & relaxed when we arrived thanks to the convenience of taking the Clipper from Seattle and to give us the maximum amount of time in Victoria. Plus we felt the options were affordable and they had a number of great package deals.

Here are more details about what we liked about the Clipper:

Saves Time – Now this will depend on where you live in relation to the other ways to travel to Victoria, but for many in the Puget Sound area, the Clipper will save the most time as it is based right out of Seattle & you only need to travel to the waterfront to board the Clipper & travel to Victoria. This can save a long car ride to Anacortes or Port Angeles (or up to BC).

In our situation, we only could be away one night during the busy holiday season & wanted to enjoy our vacation time. For us, this means not having to get up at a super early time in the morning (we’re not morning people :) ) to catch one of the ferries as they both left at 8am & you have to arrive an hour early.  We’d have to leave at 4-5am to get there in plenty of time, which was just not a good option for us when we wanted to have a relaxing getaway. We’d also be tired after a long day in Victoria to have to then travel back home several hours after arriving at the ferry dock.  So, the Clipper saved us a lot of time that we would have spent driving back & forth to the ferry terminal (we only had about a 45 minute drive to the Seattle waterfront each way) & instead we got to spend that time in Victoria sightseeing.

Affordable Option – When you look at the different prices for traveling to Victoria, the Clipper was not the cheapest option. However, we knew that traveling to another ferry location would mean that we’d need to stay at a hotel the night before (as it was too early for us to drive over that morning). Plus adding in the cost of gas to & from Port Angeles (this would be the next closest option for us) and we felt like the Clipper was a very affordable option for us & much more convenient all around. You do need to remember to factor in parking at the Seattle waterfront (as low as $10/day if you use one of their recommended lots).

The  Victoria Clipper does offer special package rates & also web specials you can look at for discounted rates. The package rates are where you can really save as they have rates as low as $130/person for the round-trip ferry as well as one night hotel. One child will also ride for just $10 (the other child will be half the cost of the adult ride, which at this time is $105). The prices of the packages will vary depending on which hotel you choose & the location of the hotel, etc. This is a great way to save by choosing one of the hotels for the package deals, saving on both hotel AND Clipper rates.

Disembark right in downtown Victoria at the Inner Harbour – This was a BIG plus in our book as when we have traveled to Victoria in the past, we’ve always arrived in Sidney and then had to wait for the bus and then take an hour bus ride to Victoria (same with traveling back to WA). If we had a short trip, this used our valuable time with all the extra travel time. With the Victoria Clipper, the pier where you disembark is just a couple blocks from the Empress Hotel & downtown Victoria. Our hotel (the Inn at Laurel Point) was just a block away so we could drop off our luggage and head out right away into the town.  Even though we were only in Victoria overnight one night, we were really able to maximize the time we had in Victoria and see so much as you can see in my post about the Christmas activities in Victoria. 

 Things to Know When Riding the Victoria Clipper:

Victoria Clipper In Seattle

Identification – Since you will be headed to Canada, it’s important to remember to either bring a passport or an Enhanced Driver’s License (you can get this from the DMV). For kids, you need to bring their birth certificate for customs each way.

Parking – The Clipper Vacations do offer several parking garages with discounted rates, as low as $10/day in Seattle.

Buy Your Tickets Early – The earlier you buy your seats on the Clipper, the faster you may board the boat in Victoria. They called people to board in groups & the groups that boarded sooner bought their tickets earlier. This information is not on their site, but it was information we learned word of mouth.  Our trip was last-minute, only got the Victoria tickets a day or two before, so we were one of the last groups to board. That means that seating options may be more limited if there’s a full boat

Cafe on the Dock and On Board – In Seattle, there is a little cafe on the dock if you want to buy any breakfast or other goodies to eat while you wait to board. They have a cafe with similar meal items on board the boat, too.  We didn’t know that, so we were rushing to eat our breakfast & then realized we could have just waited to be served on the boat.

Plan for Extra Time to Go Through Customs – When you arrive in Victoria, as well as when you arrive back in Seattle, you’ll definitely want to know that it will take a little while to get off the boat. On our way back from Victoria, they let people off in the same groups as when you board (we were in one of the last groups as it was a last-minute trip) so it took us about an hour to get off the boat & all the way thru customs, so just plan on that for when you’ll get home. It took about 30 minutes for us to get off and thru customs in Victoria. If you book earlier though, it won’t take as long to get thru the line as you’ll be one of the earlier groups to disembark.

Motion Sickness Meds – Since the Clipper is a smaller boat compared to the Ferries, you may want to bring along some motion sickness meds just in case. It didn’t bother me a bit & was such a smooth ride. But I know that some people don’t tolerate being on the water as well. In case you forget, they offered motion sickness meds for $.25 on board.

Credit/Debit Only – When on board, you will need to pay via debit or credit card for any food / duty free items. They don’t accept cash.

 Have you ever traveled on the Victoria Clipper? If so, what was your experience like? Favorite part? 

Check out more posts about Victoria, BC & other popular Northwest Travel destinations::

Disclosure: We received discounted rates in exchange for my review of the Victoria Clipper. All opinions are mine. 

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