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V2V Empress in Victoria Harbour

Love cruising in style? The recently-launched V2V Empress (via V2V Vacations) translates to a relaxed, 3.5-hour crossing from downtown Vancouver to Victoria, rather than driving out to Tsawwassen to catch the BC Ferry option to Swartz Bay.

Service began in early May and the beautifully-designed vessel is certified to carry 200 passengers.

V2V Empress Royal Class

The Ship

There’s three levels of service aboard this sparkly new, luxury catamaran that leaves from Vancouver’s seaplane terminal area (V2V offices are right next door to De Dutch Pannekoek House). Once checked in, the crew will ticket any luggage you have and then you’re just a quick jaunt down to the ship via an elevator and boarding ramp.

V2V Empress/upper deck

Fresh flowers in vases scattered around on tables in the upper deck add a touch of class to the experience as do a collection of coffee table books up front in Royal Class.

V2V Empress-15

V2V Empress has two sailings, one at 8 am (from Vancouver) the other 2 pm (from Victoria), so you can spend a couple of hours at sea, grab lunch or walk the harbour area, then board for the 2 pm, or stay a few days and enjoy the provincial capital.

V2V Empress/First & Royal class menu
[First and Royal Class menu]

I recently boarded the V2V Empress for a week in Victoria. Getting work done with the complimentary wifi was a joy, especially with THIS view!

V2V Empress/staying connected

Seats are cushy and comfy (in Royal class up front, they recline and have footrests too). The catamaran motif was designed by William Cook of the Namgis First Nation, winner of the V2V Vacations Creative Catamaran Design Competition.

V2V Empress/staying connected
[Stay connected on board with outlets and free wifi]

Alert Bay-born Cook has worked in several mediums including acrylic, cedar panels and repoussé.

V2V Empress relief woodwork

A BC resident since 1970, Dutchman Jerry Kool’s behind those cool wooden Vancouver Island map reliefs under the glass tables. The talented boat builder and woodworker was excited to work with V2V when they approached him with this project.

There’s historical information given during the sailing, from Coal Harbour right to Victoria, including the Coast Salish people of Victoria and Captain George Vancouver.

V2V Empress-14

Each time a tone comes over the PA system, count on a little nugget of info, great for out-of-towners or local history buffs. I like that it’s not an ongoing session as those can get tedious after awhile.

In First and Royal classes, a three-course meal is served along with complimentary beverages (Silk Road teas, Canterbury coffee, soft drinks, juice, still or sparkling water; one glass of wine, beer or cider is included in Royal class).

V2V Empress/Whale spotting
[Spot the orca just above the s in our logo – you can also click on the image]

Along the journey, several wall-mounted flat screens show our live location at sea. And if whale-watching boats are in the area, the V2V Empress will make a brief stop to enjoy the orca action.

V2V Empress/First Class breakfast

Dining

On the morning sailing, fresh seasonal fruit is followed by a choice of croque-monsieur, grilled veggie quiche or breakfast croissant, plus a daily muffin.

V2V Empress/First Class lunch

Afternoon sailings offer yam and sweet potato salad with a choice of open-faced sandwiches (smoked salmon with lemon zest and fried capers or ham and aged cheddar with tomato-balsamic chutney).

If sammies don’t float your boat, there’s a mezze platter (roasted veggies, goat cheese, hummus and marinated pickles and olives with toasted pita bread) or a meat and cheese plate (featuring Island cheeses, cured meats plus crostini). A little tray of truffles finishes off the meal.

V2V Empress/Royal Class seating
[Reclining in Royal Class]

It’s all served with silver cutlery and on china. Not bad for a ferry trip to Vic.

Downstairs in Premium Comfort, the menu is different and passengers pay for their meals, snacks and drinks. There’s a selection of breakfast (English muffin with egg and cheddar, breakfast croissant, brioche) and afternoon items (wraps, sandwiches, meat and cheese). Snacks, wine, beer and cider are priced the same in all classes.

Luggage

The big advantage of a taking a ferry over a faster float plane or heliride is luggage allowance: V2V’s is one complimentary piece of luggage (23 kg or less) and one carry-on (10k or less).

V2V Empress

You can also bring skis, stand up paddle boards, golf clubs and bikes on the ship ($25 per item). Luggage dimensions: 158cm (L + W + H) plus a carry-on of 23cm x 40cm x 55cm.

This trip is great for solo travellers, couples, families, groups and anyone else who loves being at sea with two fantastic point-to-point destinations.

V2V Empress

I was a guest of V2V Vacations. Opinions, as always, are my own.

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