Victoria Clipper suspends service to U.S. until 2022

The Clipper ferry service between Victoria and Seattle has suspended operations until spring 2022, the company announced Tuesday, less than one month after the ferry line restarted.

The Clipper briefly relaunched service on Sept. 17, after it was closed for over a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ferry service relaunched on a four-day weekend schedule. However, with marine borders only opened for U.S. travellers entering Canada, and not for Canadians entering the U.S., as well as a surge in COVID-19 cases on both sides of the border due to the Delta variant, the Clipper says that ridership levels were too low to continue operating through the winter.

The company says that travel requirements for visitors entering Canada – including a full vaccination status, proof of a negative COVID-19 test within three days of entering the country, and a full quarantine plan prepared for travellers who don't meet the requirements upon entering Canada – impacted ridership numbers as well.

"We knew that it would be a challenge to relaunch our international fast ferry service heading into shoulder season and given the current ongoing circumstances and travel repercussions of the pandemic," said David Gudgel, CEO of FRS Clipper, in a statement Tuesday.

"Nonetheless, we needed to test the market and unfortunately the 72-hour PCR test requirement prior to arrival into Canada proved to be a significant barrier to travel for many of our guests," he said. "Stopping fall and winter operations now is our only choice and we look forward to returning to service in spring 2022."

While the Clipper is planning on restarting operations in the spring, an exact reopening date has not been set.

The company says it will update its website with further details as the year progresses. Anyone who currently has sailings booked with the Clipper can receive a refund, or be offered a discount when service restarts next year.