Washington State Ferries holiday travel alert

Submitted by Washington State Ferries

With nearly 350,000 people expected to ride a state ferry Wednesday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Dec. 1, those who planned ahead will be thankful they avoided the busiest travel times this Thanksgiving weekend. Over the five-day period, up to 50,000 more people are projected aboard Washington State Ferries than a typical Wednesday through Sunday in November.

Customers driving a vehicle onto a vessel should plan for lengthy wait times during the long holiday weekend. To reduce or eliminate waiting, riders may consider walking on the ferry or taking an early morning or late evening sailing.

Busiest travel times

WSF expects many travelers to sail westbound Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 27, through Thursday morning, Nov. 28, and then eastbound Thursday afternoon through Friday, Nov. 29. Historically, ridership is much lower on Sunday than the other days of Thanksgiving weekend.

Vehicle wait times of one hour or more are likely during peak travel times at the Edmonds, Kingston, Mukilteo, Clinton, Fauntleroy, Seattle (to Bainbridge only) and Bainbridge terminals. People planning to drive on a ferry should sign up for ferry travel alerts for updates on vehicle wait times and check terminal conditions before leaving.

Routes with vehicle reservations

Vehicle wait times should be minimal on routes with vehicle reservations, which are highly recommended. Space will be limited on the Port Townsend/Coupeville route on Wednesday, Nov. 27, and Thursday, Nov. 28, as several evening sailings have been canceled due to tidal currents.

No reservations are available to and from Sidney, British Columbia. Canadian service is suspended through Dec. 8 due to required maintenance on both vessels certified to sail in international waters. Domestic service between Anacortes and the San Juan Islands will operate on its normal schedule, with the addition of a 9:55 a.m. from Friday Harbor to Anacortes and an 11:55 a.m. return trip to San Juan Island with a stop on Lopez Island both ways daily.

Holiday schedules

There will be a few holiday schedule changes for the Edmonds/Kingston, Mukilteo/Clinton, Point Defiance/Tahlequah routes on Thursday, Nov. 28. The Seattle/Bainbridge Island route will operate on a weekend timetable that day. Holiday sailings are marked on the schedule page for each route, including information on the best times to travel.

People using state highways to get to the ferry terminal should plan ahead for potential backups and delays with real-time traffic information on the WSDOT traffic app for their mobile device.

Washington State Ferries, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and safely and efficiently carries nearly 25 million people a year through some of the most majestic scenery in the world. For breaking news and the latest information, follow WSF on Twitter and Facebook.