BC Ferries is conducting a vessel shakeup for the Swartz Bay-Salt Spring Island and Swartz Bay- Southern Gulf Island routes to accommodate necessary upgrades.
The Skeena Queen vessel, which usually takes vehicles and passengers between Swartz Bay and Salt Spring Island, needs a “mid-life upgrade” which will take it out of commission from Oct. 28 to mid-March 2020.
Upgrades include new furniture and air conditioning, expanded washrooms and additional benches on the exterior deck. Additionally, navigation, communication and electrical systems will be upgraded. The Skeena Queen was built in 1997, and upgrades aim to keep it in service for another 20 years.
In the meantime the Queen of Cumberland will replace the Skeena Queen for a majority of the time, providing an equivalent amount of space for vehicles. The Queen of Cumberland also has vehicle ramps, meaning drivers will be able to go on the upper deck. Additionally, it hosts an elevator to an upper lounge where a Coast Cafe Express is stationed.
During this time, the Salish Raven will replace the Queen of Cumberland on the Swartz Bay- Southern Gulf Islands route. It can hold more vehicles and also has a Coastal Cafe with hot food options.
For a small period of time the Bowen Queen will replace the Queen of Cumberland on the Swartz Bay- Salt Spring Route over the winter holidays from Dec. 20 to Jan. 1, 2020. The Bowen Queen only holds 61 vehicles, which allows it to load and transit faster, allowing it to do two additional rounds per day.
The Queen of Cumberland will run the Swartz Bay- Southern Gulf Islands route to assist the Salish Raven, which will provide additional service between the Southern Gulf Islands due to predicted increases in traffic.
During the time that the Bowen Queen is in place, BC Ferries will have a revised schedule with modified sailing times.
Throughout the upgrade period, people are encouraged to arrive early to get on their preferred sailing. Customers are also advised to make reservations for the Tsawassen-Southern Gulf Islands routes during the holiday season.
For more information visit bcferries.com.