Downtown Vancouver to Victoria in Style – V2V Empress Review

Thanks to a partnership with Tourism Victoria I recently had the absolute pleasure of checking out Vancouver’s brand-new luxury passenger ferry service to British Columbia’s beautiful capital city. Here is my V2V Empress review and why I think you should get on board.

It Started with a Vision 

Canada is a lot of great things. A leader in transportation is not one of them. I have always heard that we are a country that is far too spread out to have a rail system like Europe and receive too few tourists to have passenger ferry services like those found in the Mediterranean. Although I agree we are a big country, I have traveled by passenger ferry around the Greek Islands as well as in New Zealand so have always questioned why it would not work in my hometown. Cleary Hume Campbell, CEO and V2V visionary, wondered this as well. Coming from Australia where the islands around the major hubs are well connected and serviced, he could not understand why he had to drive 30-minutes out of town (longer with traffic) if he wanted to visit Victoria. That confusion led to the creation V2V Vacations and my very first trip on board.

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

I walked along the Vancouver Convention Center seawall with a skip in my step. I had been looking forward to this trip and V2V Empress review for some time. Although it was seven in the morning, I couldn’t hide my smile. Downtown Vancouver to downtown Victoria on a luxury passenger ferry, what’s not to be excited about? On top of that, I couldn’t have asked for a better day to sail with V2V.

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

Inside the V2V ticketing office friendly and smiling staff greeted and checked us in. This courtesy continued from port to port as service aboard the V2V Empress is warm, welcoming, and first class all the way.  This was highlighted by Cesar, V2V Vacation’s sales and marketing assistant, who I had the pleasure of chatting with at check-in and again on the journey home. Cesar has worked for many years in the tourism industry and with many large companies, but never one from day one. His excitement for this project was contagious and only made me that much more eager to set sail.

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

All Aboard

The V2V Empress is split into three service classes: Royal, First, and Premier Comfort. The latter is geared towards commuting or value seeking tourists but still features comfortable leather seating and door to door service. First Class and Royal Class are located on the upper deck with an inclusive three-course meal. Royal Class seats are at the front of the Empress and feature reclining seats with forward facing views. For my V2V Empress review I was seated in 1st class although the cabin was not busy so was free to wander.

Royal and Premier Comfort classes have access to the top viewing deck which offers unobstructed views. During the trip, the V2V Empress slows down allowing for sightseeing of the Gulf Islands and the Vancouver and Victoria harbours. The top viewing deck is also a great spot for whale sightings which are not uncommon! Sadly, no sightings on my sailing however that did not sour my day. With views like this, how could it??

Amenities and Food

All classes have access to onboard Wi-Fi, although as I found, it’s not much better than what you will find at sea with BC ferries. Even though I had the intention of getting some work done, I found myself enjoying the views and listening to the onboard commentary so this was a non-issue for me. I was also too busy admiring the interior of the V2V Empress. The first thing that caught my eye on the upper levels was the wood carved nautical maps encased in glass. These make up the family-style seating tables and, hopefully one day, my coffee table at home.

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

Like everything else on board the V2V Empress, meals are gourmet and first-class. For breakfast and afternoon lunch you have a small selection of Salish Sea inspired dishes that feature BC products such as smoked salmon, backyard greens, and local craft beer and wine. V2V Vacations has committed to sustainable and preservative-free ingredients and uses Ocean Wise seafood` as well as deli meats that are additive-free. Desserts of chocolate truffles are supplied by Bernard Callebaut chocolate and are by far the best chocolates I’ve had at sea 😉

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

Downtown to Downtown

You’re not going to find a more literal name than V2V. Unlike BC Ferries, which picks you up and drops you off on the outskirts of town, V2V brings you door-to-door. From the convention center in Vancouver’s Coal Harbour to the historic Steamship Terminal in Victoria, V2V makes for a stress-free and carefree escape. For me and my V2V Empress review, this meant rolling my bag across the street to my accommodations at the Hotel Grand Pacific. Easy peasy. On top of the stress-free terminal locations I found my crossing to be beyond relaxing and, although longer than BC Ferries (3.5 hours vs. 1.5… but again, V2V is door-to-door),  it was all about the journey. I’m hopeful others will recognize the same.

Sail Away

I should note this passenger service has been attempted before, but as Cesar explained to me on the return trip, not like this. The service on board is unlike anything you will find in British Columbia or Canada for that matter.  The prices do reflect this though. Premium Comfort is $120, 1st Class is $199, and Royal Comfort is $240. These fares are one-way prices and may be out of reach for many who want to experience this wonderful service. V2V is aware of this and is already is in talks with Harbour Air to provide a ferry/flight package which will address cost and time. With talks of expanding service to downtown Seattle, it sounds like the V2V Empress is around for the long term.

I certainly hope it is here to stay and that it inspires other visionaries. Perhaps this will be a spark for the expansion of transportation options and the beginning of better connecting Canada’s prettiest parts. Time will tell.

Until then, check out the V2V Empress.

Cruising From Vancouver to Victoria in Style - V2V Empress Review

5 Quick Reasons to take the V2V Empress from Vancouver to Victoria:

  1. The V2V Empress is Door-to-Door! No need to drive 30-minutes+ outside of town and fight traffic to catch a ferry!
  2. The V2V Empress is Stress and Carefree! You can leave the car at home and explore Victoria on foot or by bike.
  3. The V2V Empress is all about the Journey. Relax and enjoy the views!
  4. The V2V Empress is 1st class all the way. Enjoy the gourmet meals in 1st and Royal Comfort classes in comfort.
  5. The V2V Empress is on SALE!  To celebrate Canada’s 150th you can experience a trip return trip in Premium Comfort or one way in 1st class for just $150!

What say you?
Thoughts on this V2V Empress Review ?
Let’s hear it!

For more reviews from Canada and beyond see HERE.

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Although my V2V Vactions V2V Empress review sailing was complimentary,
the experience, opinions, and V2V Empress review are my own.

So how does this V2V Empress Review rank?

10 Service
10 Amenities
10 Comfort
10 Character
8.5 Value
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  • Lisa Rivera

    Ok, I’ll be the first to hold my hands up when I say, I’m a complete wreck at sea, even on these large boats! However, I must say, with a Dramamine tablet, I can handle any type of vessel, and the V2V Empress looks well up my street! I love the photos of your food, and I think I could keep everything down on this boat!

    • Gah sorry to hear! Maybe the soft seats would at least keep you relaxed!

  • Becca Talbot

    Sounds like the V2V staff were one of the best things about this trip, from start to finish – which is also nice to hear about. Your pictures are amazing, even the little meals look great (and I usually hate food on boats and planes!) x

    • Thanks! The meals are definetly not your typical air line tray!

  • Natalia Andersson- Laing

    What a great trip! Having good staff is so crucial to having a good trip, they really can make or break it!

  • Katherine Beveridge

    It looks really fancy! There’s such a novelty in being able to use Wifi on a boat! I wish they would start bringing it onto planes. I luckily don’t get seasick so boat trips are not too bad for me, but my mum gets so nauseous and hates them!

    • Cheers! Most major airlines offer wifi onboard now and have for a few years.

  • Justine Jobelle M. Kimoden

    being the cheapskate that I am, I will just go for the premium comfort. hehe. btw, I don’t think you mentioned how long the sail ride was? (or was I just blind?)

    On a completely different note, how did you put pictures side by side? Did you edit that beforehand or is there a widget that you use?

    • Good eye! I have edited and included.

      The side by side pics is just the default layout of gallery images on my site.

  • Medha Verma Bector

    The gourmet breakfast looks sumptuous! I love travelling by ferries between islands but I’ve never actually travelled by a luxury one. The views on your route are breathtaking and your pictures have captured it really well.

  • foreverroamingtheworld

    I would love to take this trip when I finally get to travel Canada. I’ve been on a few boat cruises through my travels and they are a great way to spend a day. My best so far has to be through the Milford Sounds (didn’t get to do Doubtful sounds though) – Would love to give this one a go.

    • This is definetly not Milford Sound but very scenic non the less!

  • Yasmin Ali

    Your photos are fantastic! I am dying to go to Canada and this defintely makes me want to go even more.

    • And Canada would love to have you! Hope you visit someday and check out this new service!