As Seattle residents, we’re just a short trip away from visiting Canada. To cross the border, you have a few options such as driving, flying, or taking a bus. Our favorite way to visit Canada from Seattle is the Seattle to Victoria ferry with Clipper Vacations. Here’s what you should know if you’re planning your own trip to Canada via the Victoria Clipper.
Thank you to Destination Greater Victoria and the Victoria Clipper for providing our family tickets for the Clipper. All thoughts and opinions are my own, based on our experience. Affiliate links are included in this post, if you chose to purchase from my link I might receive a commission.
Planning Your Trip
Choosing the Seattle to Victoria ferry is perfect for a simple day trip from Seattle or a weekend getaway. We’ve been to Victoria a few times and there’s plenty to see for multiple trips. Victoria is easy to walk around, so it’s great for a day trip, but I recommend staying a weekend or longer.
The Victoria Clipper ferry terminal is along the Seattle waterfront at Pier 69. We parked in the Bell Street Pier Garage and walked to the terminal from there. They charge Clipper guests $10 per day for overnight parking, which is a great deal in Seattle. Be sure to bring your parking ticket with you and get it validated aboard the Clipper.
Sailing times vary for the Clipper depending on the season and day of the week. Typically, the schedule has a Seattle departure early in the morning, arriving in Victoria before lunch, then departing Victoria in the early evening, arriving back in Seattle in the late evening. Check the current Seattle to Victoria ferry sailing times here.
Ferry fares aboard the Clipper range based on the travel season. The range is about $155-$160 (with summer being peak season) and child fares are about $77-$100. You can also upgrade your seat class to Vista Class for $10 or $25 for Comfort Class (each way).
You’ll want to arrive at the terminal about an hour before departure. Your passports will be checked, and your boarding documents printed. You can also check in and print your own boarding documents at home before departure. After checking in you move to the boarding area to await your turn to board 9 (based on your seat class).
Do note that bad weather can prevent or delay your sailing. We’ve traveled in the summer and winter with no issues either time, so realize this is a rare occurrence.
Seating and Class Options Aboard the Clipper
Clipper Vacations just debuted their new passenger-only ferry, the Clipper V. This new vessel has three seating class options, Economy, Vista, and Comfort. Seats are not assigned individually, only assigned by section. The first people to board for each class will get their first pick of seats.
Economy Class seating is on the lower level and the most affordable ticket option. Seats are fabric and face forward. These seats are similar to main cabin airplane seats. These guests are the last to board, but they’re the first to disembark. This might be a priority if you don’t want to wait in a long line at customs.
Vista Class is the first upgrade option available and it costs $10 USD for each leg. It is located on the back half of the upper deck. There are leather seats most are situated as four seats around a table. It’s perfect for families or groups. Seats face forward and backward, so beware if you have motion sickness. It has the closest access to the outside viewing deck. Note, you must be able to go up and down stairs.
For $25 USD per segment you can upgrade to Comfort Class. Comfort Class boards first and is located in a private cabin at the front of the upper deck. All seats are leathered and almost all have tables for each two seats. All seats face forward that the cabin is bright and open with large windows. I also loved that the seats had a generous recline and legroom.
If you’re lucky enough to snag one of the front row seats, you’ll have expansive window views of the journey. The seats along the side Comfort Class also has complimentary amenities like an automatic espresso machine, soda pop, and a few snacks (pretzels and chips) available to guests. I also liked that you have a set of private bathrooms in the Comfort Class cabin.
Comfort Class passengers are the first to board, after guests with special needs. However, the private location means you’ll be some of the last passengers off the boat. It is your vacation so perhaps it’s worth the extra 15-20 minutes in line in order to relax and enjoy the ride for your three hours aboard. Be sure you can go up and down steps if you book this class.
Riding Aboard the Victoria Clipper
The sailing time between Seattle and Victoria is about two hours and 45 minutes. During the trip you’re free to get up and move around the ship – making it great for little busy bodies or passengers who like to stretch their legs. There are restrooms located on each deck of the Clipper.
You can also go out to an outdoor viewing deck on the back of the top deck for some fresh air and great views. If you love nature viewing, remember to bring a pair of travel binoculars in case you’re lucky enough to pass by some whales or other PNW wildlife.
Food on the Clipper
There is food service aboard and the Clipper has some fabulous meal options. They have breakfast and lunch items. Many are boxes and sandwiches. I personally love the Tuscan Deli box that comes with cheese, crackers, an olive tapenade, and apple slices. You can also get non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages on board. You will need to pay with a credit card, not cash. Prices range from $5-$11 for snack meals and $3-$9 for drinks.
If you’re worried about motion sickness, the Clipper provides complimentary motion sickness medicine and ginger candies to help if you’re worried about seasickness. Just know that the meds they provide are not non-drowsy, so if you plan to tour after arriving, bring your own less drowsy medicine, or try the Reliefband – I love using it on boats!
Crossing the Border
What Documents You Need to Bring
Victoria, British Columbia is located in Canada. This means that all guests (age 16+) need to have a passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license, or a NEXUS card.
If you’re traveling with US or Canadian children under the age of 16 you will need to provide one of these: an original or copy of his or her birth certificate, a consular report of birth abroad, a naturalization certificate, or a citizenship card. Children from countries other than the US or Canada will require a passport and possibly a visa. Failure to provide such evidence may prevent you from entering Canada.
If both birth parents are not present, you must provide a signed (preferably notarized) statement from the parent(s) authorizing the child to travel out of the country or proof of custody.
When you arrive in Victoria, you’ll line up to get off the boat and make your way to the Customs and Border Agents at the terminal. Once you have your passports checked and turn in your customs form (which you fill out on the boat) you’ll exit the terminal and be ready to explore the city.
Coming back to Seattle from Victoria, you’ll exit through Canadian Border Protection officers at the Victoria terminal. You’ll have to also clear United States Customs before leaving the Seattle terminal. If you’re in Canada less than 48 hours you can bring back $200 in allowances, $800 if you stay longer than 48 hours.
Where to Stay While in Victoria
Inn at Laurel Point
During both of our overnight trips to Victoria we’ve stayed at the Inn at Laurel Point. I really love this hotel’s location and every room has a view of the inner or outer harbor. The hotel is really close to the Victoria Clipper terminal, making it easy to get to from the Clipper terminal.
The rooms are all spacious with large bathrooms and great amenities. My girls love the L’Occitane body products! I really love how the hotel feels so bright and modern. The architecture and art of the hotel feels unique and welcoming.
The hotel has been doing a major lobby renovation that should be finished by late Fall 2019. Right now the gardens and paths around the hotel are closed. The lobby is also blocked off and a temporary check in desk and lobby have been created.
The Inn at Laurel Point is at the end of the harbor and offers direct access into downtown (via sidewalk). It’s about a 10-15-minute walk to the city center. The hotel has a restaurant on site, making it great for getting breakfast in bed! It’s also near Fisherman’s Wharf, another popular tourist spot in the city.
For guests looking for a luxury getaway in Victoria, the Fairmont Empress holds court at the center of the inner harbor. Guests will be treated an old-fashioned, luxury experience in the heart of the city.
What to Do in Victoria, BC
Once you get to the city, there are plenty of great things to do in Victoria. During our most recent trip we finally got to go whale watching and we spotted two orca whale pods, an elephant seal, and even puffin.
My tween and teen adventurers loved our time spent at WildPlay, an aerial adventure and zipline park. We spent about three hours at WildPlay, tackling every obstacle course and even doing the 40 foot What’s to Fear Jump!
On our previous trip we visited Butchart Gardens during the holiday season. We went at night and saw their amazing Christmas light display. It was themed around the 12 days of Christmas song through each exhibit. If you’re visiting during the spring or summer, the Gardens are filled with so many gorgeous flowers. Butchart Gardens is ~30 minutes north of downtown Victoria so book a tour transfer (or pay a hefty taxi fee).
We also visited the Royal BC Museum for the first time on this trip. My youngest loved it, especially their Old Town exhibit and the Mayan touring exhibit.
If you like to book packages or don’t want to do the planning yourself, the Victoria Clipper has a free concierge service that will help you arrange your travel activities. And, if you put everything off until the last minute you can book activities on the Clipper during your day of travel.
Note that ride sharing (Uber / Lyft) are not allowed in Victoria. You’ll need to be prepared to walk, pay for taxis (we used Bluebird Taxis), or use city transportation (buses).
Other Transportation Options
As I’ve already mentioned, the Clipper Seattle to Victoria ferry is my favorite way to travel from Seattle to Victoria. But there are a few other options that I wanted to mention.
If you find yourself on the Olympic Pennisula, it might make sense to book transportation between Port Angeles and Victoria aboard the Black Ball MV Coho ferry. The Black Ball ferry also offers car transportation if you’re driving, whereas the Victoria Clipper is a high-speed passenger-only ferry.
If you’d like a unique float plane experience, you might want to check out booking a ticket with Kenmore Air. They offer scenic flights between Seattle and Victoria along with vacation packages.
Washington State Ferries travel from Anacortes, WA (~1.5 hrs north of Seattle) to Sidney, BC (~30 minutes north of Victoria). This ferry also is a car and passenger ferry. Another option if you want to take your car with you to Victoria.
Victoria is located on Vancouver Island and only reachable via ferry or plane. If you find yourself in Vancouver, BC, you can get to Victoria via the V2V passenger-only ferry.