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20 Tips for the Victoria Clipper Seattle to Victoria Ferry

When you’re in Seattle, it’s 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 FRS Clipper.

Victoria, British Columbia, is the capital city of the province and many visitors love its British architecture and feel. Plus, it’s a very walkable city to explore and is near the famous Butchart Gardens.

seattle to victoria ferry victoria clipper V docked in Victoria BC harbor
Victoria Clipper V Seattle to Victoria Ferry ©️ Kim Tate / Stuffed Suitcase

Thank you to Tourism Victoria and the FRS Clipper for providing me with tickets for sailing on the Clipper. All thoughts and opinions are my own, based on our experience. Affiliate links are included in this post, if you choose to purchase from my link, I might receive a commission.

Key Takeaways for Victoria Clipper Ferry:

If you’re planning a quick trip across the border to visit Canada, here’s what you should know about sailing aboard the Victoria Clipper V fast ferry from Seattle to Victoria.

Planning Your Seattle to Victoria Ferry Trip

Choosing the Seattle to Victoria ferry is perfect for a quick 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 a validation ticket while aboard the Clipper.

Sailing times vary for the Clipper depending on the season and day of the week. They typically do one sailing in the winter and two in the summer. The schedule normally has a Seattle departure early in the morning, arriving in Victoria before lunch, then departing Victoria in the early evening, and 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. Be sure to check for their latest travel specials! You can expect to spend about $150 on a round trip economy ticket, with the lowest being $115 (advance purchase Nov & Dec) and the highest at $199 (standard fare May to Sept). Child fares are about $78-$100.

Economy class is your cheapest ticket option. You can also upgrade to Economy Panorama (window seats) for about $30 (round-trip; $15 each way), upgrade to Vista Class for $30 or $60 (panorama) more, or the ultimate upgrade to Comfort Class for $60 or $90 (Comfort VIP) more. Those prices are based on round-trip pricing.

TIP: If you’re planning to stay overnight in Victoria, price out a hotel package with the FRS Clipper. Booking your hotel with them will give you a discount on your ferry price, so compare prices to book with the Clipper and book separately to see which would be best for your travel dates.

Boarding the Clipper Ferry in Seattle

line for check in at the Seattle Victoria Clipper ferry terminal

You’ll want to arrive at the terminal about an hour before departure. It’s located at Pier 69 on the downtown Seattle waterfront. Guests on the Clipper can park at the Bell Street Pier Garage (across from the Edgewater Hotel) for only $10 a day! Which is an amazing deal for parking in Seattle.

You’ll need to get a validation ticket while onboard the Clipper ferry to have the $10 price. Don’t lose your entrance parking ticket either, you’ll need both tickets to exit the garage with the $10 per day price.

Once you make your way to the terminal – which is on the north end of the Edgewater Hotel, you’ll line up for check-in. Your passports will be checked, and your boarding documents printed. It’s recommended that you check in online in advance. An email is sent 7 days before your sailing with a link to check-in.

Comfort Class passengers do have a special line for check-in and priority boarding in Seattle – not in Victoria. After checking in, you move to the boarding area to await your turn to board (based on your seat class). Boarding begins about 45 minutes before departure. All guests must be on board within 15 minutes of departure. There are restrooms available at the ferry terminal near the boarding area.

You can bring carry-on bags with you onboard the Clipper ferry. You can also check bags, Comfort Class passengers get a checked bag for free, and other passengers will have to pay to check bags. Carry-on bags will have to be stowed on the provided racks on the main level by the economy seats.

luggage racks on the Victoria Clipper ferry

The Victoria Clipper V holds 525 passengers, and if the sailing is not full, they will make announcements offering upgrades to Vista or Comfort Class seating while boarding. I asked on my recent sailing about prices to upgrade on board and they are the same as the price in advance, $15 for each level higher you upgrade.

Do note that bad weather could prevent or delay your sailing. We’ve traveled in the summer and winter with no issues, so realize this is a rare occurrence. I spoke with the captain on my most recent sailing and he said that the Clipper V can handle rough seas quite well and he believed they only had one cancellation the past year and only a couple of delays.

TIP: I noticed our Friday AM ferry ride was fairly open in Comfort Class but still pretty busy in Economy. But on Sunday evening for the return to Seattle ferry, the whole boat was very full with most window seats taken and many people were upgrading on the boat. The Comfort Class VIP seats were completely sold out on that Sunday evening return ferry. I’m betting Saturdays are busy going to Victoria and Sundays are busy on the return.

Seating and Class Options Aboard the Clipper

The Victoria Clipper V has six seating class options, Economy Standard, Economy Panoramic, Vista Standard, Vista Panoramic, Comfort, and Comfort VIP. Seats are now assigned – they weren’t previously. The assigned seating is nice so there is no stress about having to be the first aboard to get a good seat. This also means you’ll likely want to book early to have the best selection.

Each fare class costs about $30 more than the lower level and the panorama (window) seats are about $30 more than the inner seats. So, the cheapest seat will be Economy and the highest will be Comfort VIP which will be $100 more than Economy.

NOTE: only the lower deck offers wheelchair seating, and you must be able to use stairs for Vista or Comfort Class seating as they’re on the upper deck and only accessible via stairs.

Economy Class

victoria clipper ferry economy seating

Economy Class seating is on the lower level and the most affordable ticket option. Seats are fabric and face forward in the front section while the back section features sections with forward and backward-facing seats around a table.

economy seating with tables on seattle to victoria ferry

Economy Panoramic seats are at the front windows and along the side.

Vista Class

Vista Class is located on the back half of the upper deck. There are leather seats and many are situated 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, which is a small open deck on the backside of the ferry. The viewing deck is open to all passengers, not just Vista Class.

vista class seating on Victoria Clipper ferry
vista class seating Seattle to Victoria ferry
Vista Class seating on the Clipper Seattle to Victoria ferry. © Kim Tate

Vista Panorama seats are grouped in twos along the side of the cabin and all face forward with large windows on one side. These seats do face forward, however, the front of the boat is not visible as Vista Class is at the back of the upper deck and separated from the Comfort Class cabin by the galley, stairs, etc. There is a skylight to help add light to the space – it feels more open than the economy seating.

There is a separate galley for food and drinks for Vista Class passengers, so they don’t need to go downstairs. However, there are no private restrooms for Vista Class, and you’ll need to go down to the main level downstairs for the restrooms.

vista class food cafe on clipper ferry

Comfort Class

comfort class cabin on seattle to victoria ferry

Comfort Class is the highest level of ticket you can book and comes with a few perks in addition to the premium seats. It is in a private cabin at the front of the upper deck. All seats are leather, and all have tables at the seats. All seats face forward, except there is a set of four chairs around a table at the front of the side windows. The cabin is bright and open with large windows. I also loved that the seats had a generous recline and legroom.

If you’re able to snag one of the front-row center Comfort VIP seats, you’ll have expansive window views of the journey over the front of the boat. During daylight sailing times, these seats give you the best view of the islands and possible wildlife. The Comfort VIP seats along the side do have large windows for viewing as well.

comfort vip seats on victoria clipper seattle ferry

Comfort Class also has complimentary amenities like an automatic espresso machine, cans of pop, bottles of water, and juice, as well as a few snacks (pretzels, chips, almonds) available to guests free of charge.

Comfort Class snack bar amenities on Clipper ferry boat

Comfort Class has two private bathrooms for the cabin while the other cabins share a set of six or so on the main deck. There are no charging outlets at the seats, however, Comfort Class passengers can utilize a charging dock station near the snack bar for their devices.

comfort class seats on seattle to victoria ferry

One thing to note, unless you have special needs for preboarding or debarking, comfort class passengers are some of the last passengers to be released upon docking, which means you’re often towards the back of the line to clear customs. I did hear that the Clipper is considering options to allow Comfort Class passengers priority disembarkation, but as of right now, that’s not in place.

Riding Aboard the Victoria Clipper

The sailing time between Seattle and Victoria is just under a three-hour cruise. You’ll be leaving Seattle, sailing north through the Puget Sound, passing Whidbey Island and Port Townsend on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula before crossing the Strait of Juan de Fuca across to Victoria on the south tip of Vancouver Island.

During the trip, you’re free to get up and move around the ship – making it great for little busybodies or passengers who like to stretch their legs. There are restrooms located on each deck of the Clipper, although the two on the upper deck are for Comfort Class passengers only.

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. Keep in mind the time of day and season if you’re hoping to see wildlife.

Food on the Clipper

There is food service aboard and the Clipper has some great snack options. They have breakfast and lunch items; most are prepackaged boxes and sandwiches. We enjoy the $11 fruit and cheese plate as well as the $3.50 Alki Bakery Cinnamon Roll. 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 $3-$11 for snacks and $2-$9 for drinks.

Snack box meals on the Seattle to Victoria sailing. © Kim Tate

Motion Sickness

If you’re worried about motion sickness, the Clipper provides complimentary motion sickness medicine (meclizine) and ginger candies. 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 a Reliefband bracelet which uses electric current stimulation for drug-free nausea relief. I love using mine when cruising!

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.

Be sure to read the full details about identification and rules on the Clipper website.

Clearing Customs

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 present your passports and clear US Border Protection at the Victoria terminal after checking in. You’ll have to also clear United States Customs before leaving the Seattle terminal and declare any goods you’re bringing back to the US. If you’re in Canada for less than 48 hours you can bring back $200 in allowances, and $800 if you stay longer than 48 hours.  

Where to Stay While in Victoria

Inn at Laurel Point

During two of our overnight trips to Victoria, we stayed at the Inn at Laurel Point. I love this hotel’s location and every room has a view of the inner or outer harbor. The hotel is 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 love how the hotel feels so bright and modern. The architecture and art of the hotel feels unique and welcoming.

room at Inn at Laurel Point
The rooms at the Inn at Laurel Point have great harbor views! © Kim Tate

The Inn at Laurel Point is at the end of the harbor and offers direct access to 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.

Coast Victoria Hotel & Marina

coast victoria hotel view in victoria bc

On our recent trip we stayed at the Coast Victoria Hotel which is located on the outer harbor and a little farther from downtown. But it’s still within easy walking distance of the Clipper dock and Coast Hotels is a chain, so if you like to collect hotel loyalty points, you might find that useful.

The Coast Victoria Hotel also has a complimentary shuttle service available to guests upon request, making it convenient for getting around town. Mia and I both enjoy walking, so we just walked downtown from the hotel, which is about a 15-minute walk, all with sidewalks and along a main thoroughfare. Plus, we loved passing the lit-up Parliament building each time!

The Coast Victoria Hotel also has a great indoor-outdoor pool, but unfortunately, we didn’t partake since it was December, and we didn’t pack for pool time. Another really interesting and fun amenity at the Coast Victoria Hotel…bidets! Each room has a Toto bidet seat and I have to say that it was a big hit for us!

For guests looking for a luxury getaway in Victoria, the Fairmont Empress holds court at the center of the inner harbor and is considered one of the best hotels in the city. Guests will be treated to an old-fashioned, luxury experience in the heart of downtown Victoria.

What to Do in Victoria, BC

Butchart Gardens

butchart gardens sunken garden lights at christmas

Most recently we got to experience the Christmas season in Victoria. We visited Butchart Gardens at night for their Magic of Christmas display. It was themed around the 12 days of Christmas song as you wandered along the pathways. If you’re visiting during the spring or summer, the gardens are filled with so many gorgeous flowers.

There are restaurants at Butchart Gardens, so you don’t need to worry about meals when planning your visit. We love getting hot chocolate and drinking it while we look at all the Christmas lights, and then we end our night with dinner at the Poppyseed Restaurant.

Butchart Gardens is about 30 minutes north of downtown Victoria so you might want to book a tour transfer. If you want to pay for a taxi, expect to pay about CAD 60 each way from downtown Victoria to Butchart Gardens. You can also book a Butchart Gardens package with your Clipper ferry ticket.

Whale Watching

Orca whales on our Victoria whale-watching tour. © Kim Tate

During our summer trip went whale watching and spotted two orca whale pods, an elephant seal, and even puffins. Whale watching is one of the most popular nature activities for Victoria visitors in the summer.

There are a variety of whale-watching excursions, but many of them are on zodiac boats so they can quickly cover a large region to find marine life. On our excursion, we ended up far south into US waters to find whales.

They do provide warm outerwear to help you stay warm on the water because you are quite exposed versus other whale watching excursions I’ve been on (WA and CA) where you’re on a leisure boat with many passengers.

Afternoon Tea at Fairmont Empress

afternoon tea at the fairmont empress in victoria bc

Ready to raise those pinkies? Afternoon tea is a great activity while in Victoria if you enjoy snacking on mini sandwiches and desserts while sipping on cups of warm tea. It’s a great rainy-day activity but can be busy so you should try to make reservations.

WildPlay Adventure Course

WildPlay adventure course in Victoria. © Kim Tate

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!

If you have adventurous kids or teens on your trip and are visiting during the summer months, I highly recommend this as a fun outdoor activity!

Royal BC Museum

If you have any museum lovers in your traveling group, you should stop into the Royal BC Museum. We’ve visited a few times, and the rotating exhibits are always our favorite. They also have a great Natural History exhibit that reminds me a bit of the Natural History Museum in NYC. They are currently updating their First Peoples Gallery and I look forward to visiting again once that space has been reopened with the help of local Indigenous tribes.

If you like to book packages or don’t want to do the planning yourself, the Victoria Clipper has travel advisors who will help you arrange your travel activities. And, if you prefer to put everything off until the last minute you can book activities on the Clipper during your day of travel.

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 Peninsula, 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 your car, whereas the high-speed Victoria Clipper catamaran is a passenger-only ferry.

If you’d like a unique float plane experience, you might want to check out booking a ticket with Kenmore Air seaplane. 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 is only reachable via ferry or plane. If you find yourself in Vancouver, BC, you can get to Victoria via BC Ferries or Harbour Air.

Take a trip to Canada from Seattle via the Victoria Clipper ferry
Travel from Seattle to Victoria, Canada aboard the Victoria Clipper ferry.

Share and Save This Post:

Ari

Friday 14th of July 2023

I'm riding the clipper from Victoria to Seattle in a few days, so thanks for info I didn't know when I'm on it.

By the way, Uber began in Victoria in June 2023.

Kim

Sunday 16th of July 2023

Thanks, Ari. I need to go on another trip as I'm sure there have been some changes since I last went!

Keri Hedrick

Friday 13th of March 2020

You've given me so many handy ideas on how to better explore this corner of the world! Maybe a blessing in disguise trip 1 was cancelled so I can plan all over again!!! thank you

Heather S

Friday 15th of January 2016

I've been wanting to do this for years! How fun! Thanks so much for hosting such a lovely giveaway! :) xx

Kimberly

Friday 15th of January 2016

Best of luck Heather! Our trip aboard the Clipper ferry from Seattle to Victoria was one we'll definitely do again!

Kate

Thursday 14th of January 2016

Such a great giveaway Kim! Have always wanted to travel on the clipper! Looks like you guys had such a fun time!

Kimberly

Thursday 14th of January 2016

I definitely recommend it Kate. Quick and easy and the girls thought it was a fun way to get "all the way" up to Canada.