BC Ferries sailings both cancelled and reinstated this weekend

BC Ferries is cancelling a number of sailings this weekend due to staffing shortages.

It’s been an ongoing problem for months now and leading to a lot of frustration and disappointment for travellers.

“Your safety is important to us, and we require a specific number of crew members on board the vessel to ensure the safety of our passengers in the unlikely event of an emergency and to comply with Transport Canada regulations,” said BC Ferries in a service notice.

Cancelled sailings for Friday between Tsawwassen and Victoria include:

  • 4 p.m. departing Tsawwassen
  • 6 p.m. departing Swartz Bay

Cancelled sailings for Sunday between Tsawwassen and Victoria include:

  • 4 p.m. departing Tsawwassen
  • 6 p.m. departing Swartz Bay
  • 8 p.m. departing Tsawwassen
  • 10 p.m. departing Swartz Bay

A number of morning sailings between Horseshoe Bay and Langdale Friday were initially cancelled, but were reinstated just after 5:30 a.m. Friday.

Because BC Ferries was not expecting to find enough crew members to sail, it had already cancelled and refunded bookings, meaning anyone who had a reservation lost it.

“Travel is now 100 per cent first-come, first-serve for the reinstated sailings - apologies for any inconveniences this may have caused for your travels!” tweeted a customer service representative Friday morning.

Those with cancelled reservations said they felt burned by the process.

“Very frustrated. To be honest, I had decided last night that I was going to limit working with BC Ferries for the rest of my life,” said Tracy West who was travelling from Chilliwack to Egmont.

“It sure is frustrating when you plan your whole weekend around, or your whole trip around, this ferry time and that ferry time. And then all of a sudden you find out that you don't have ferry plans,” said West.

She wasn’t alone in her frustration.

“We heard they said they had enough staff and then they don't have enough. It's confusing,” said a group heading from Pitt Meadows to Gibsons.

There were also cancellations on some of the less busy routes Thursday between Chemainus and Thetis Island, and Chemainus and Penelakut Island.

“We appreciate your patience and apologize for any inconvenience. Our goal is to inform our customers as early as possible of any changes to our scheduled sailings,” wrote BC Ferries.

Customer service will be contacting customers with cancelled bookings to let them know if there is space available on another sailing.

In the case of a cancellation, fees and fares will be refunded.

“The decision to cancel a sailing in these circumstances is made when we have exhausted all options to find replacement crew. That said, if circumstances change and replacement crew become available, we would notify customers immediately,” the statement from BC Ferries said.

The company is reminding customers to check its website regularly for updates.

BC Ferries told CTV News last month that it was working hard to address the staffing shortage, hiring 500 new seasonal employees to help over the peak of the season.

“We continue to actively recruit new employees to fill vacant positions,” said Deborah Marshall, a BC Ferries spokesperson, in an email to CTV News.