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.
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.
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.
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.
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 😉
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.
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.
5 Quick Reasons to take the V2V Empress from Vancouver to Victoria:
- The V2V Empress is Door-to-Door! No need to drive 30-minutes+ outside of town and fight traffic to catch a ferry!
- The V2V Empress is Stress and Carefree! You can leave the car at home and explore Victoria on foot or by bike.
- The V2V Empress is all about the Journey. Relax and enjoy the views!
- The V2V Empress is 1st class all the way. Enjoy the gourmet meals in 1st and Royal Comfort classes in comfort.
- 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!
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Although my V2V Vactions V2V Empress review sailing was complimentary,
the experience, opinions, and V2V Empress review are my own.