V2V Vacations Review: Vancouver to Victoria

The V2V Empress: A Relaxing Journey Between Vancouver and Victoria

V2V Vacations
The V2V Empress / D.Wilson

If you want to find the easiest way to travel from Vancouver to Victoria, look no further than V2V Vacations.
V2V Vancouver Office
V2V Vacations Vancouver Office / D. Wilson

As a local that travels frequently between Victoria and Vancouver for business and pleasure, I was extremely eager to sample the new V2V service between the two cities.
v2v vacations vancouver office
V2V Vacations Vancouver Terminal / D.Wilson

Last December, I discovered an extremely generous introductory rate for Royal Class, which is their top class of service, and did not hesitate to reserve a seat. The reservations agent, Alyssa, was extremely friendly and accommodating. It felt more like dealing with a personal concierge.
v2v vacations vancouver terminal
V2V Vacations Vancouver Terminal / D. Wilson

The V2V Terminal in Vancouver is conveniently located at Canada Place, just steps away from the Cruise Terminal and the Float Planes.
v2v vancouver office map
V2V Vacations Vancouver Terminal Map / Source: V2V Vacations

If you have time to spare while waiting, I highly recommend the Fly-Over Canada experience.
v2v vacations vancouver terminal
V2V Vacations Vancouver Terminal / D.Wilson

Check-in begins thirty minutes prior to departure. The staff at the terminal greeted us warmly, tagged and stored our luggage for our 1:30pm departure to Victoria. Each passenger is permitted up to one piece of luggage weighing 23 kilograms. After receiving our boarding passes, we browsed through the V2V souvenirs and local products that were available at the Vancouver terminal.
v2v vacations vancouver
V2V Vacations Vancouver Terminal Canada Place / D. Wilson

When it was time for us to board, we were personally escorted down to the ship by a V2V agent. He kindly carried our luggage for us to the V2V Empress, a 254-seat high speed catamaran. As the dock is on the lower level, passengers must either use stairs or an elevator to reach the ship. 
v2v vancouver terminal
V2V Vacations Vancouver Terminal Canada Place / D.Wilson

The V2V Empress departs from Gate 1 in Vancouver for the three-hour crossing to Victoria. Three classes of service are available aboard the vessel:
  • Royal Class: Reclining Leather Seats with Foot Rest, Complimentary Meal & Beverages, Priority Boarding, Panoramic Views, Dedicated Hosts, and Concierge Service. (Upper Deck)
  • Gold Class: Leather Seats, Complimentary Meal & Beverages, Dedicated Hosts, Priority Boarding. (Main & Upper Deck). Tip: Main Deck Seats Recline & Offer Panoramic Views.
  • Premium Class: Leather Seats, Buy-On Board Menu, Alcohol for Purchase, Access to Sun Deck. (Main Deck) Tip: Centre seats are available at a discount with advance purchase. 
v2v vacations route map
V2V Route Map / Source: V2V Vacations

The V2V crossing time between Vancouver and Victoria is approximately three hours.
V2V ferry
The V2V Empress / D. Wilson

The orca livery on the V2V Empress was designed by Canadian First Nations artist, Chief William Cook, from Alert Bay, BC. It is yet another example of how V2V has incorporated local elements into their on-board service and travel experience.
v2v empress royal class
V2V Royal Class / D.Wilson

As we boarded the vessel, we were greeted warmly on board by the friendly crew and escorted to our seat. All seating aboard the V2V Empress is pre-assigned. Each seat is equipped with power ports for your personal electronics. I appreciated that our luggage was stowed away for us and we did not need to have it at our seat, which enhanced our comfort and space.
v2v powerport
Power Ports at Every Seat / D.Wilson

We were seated in seats 1C and 1D, which are located on the Upper Deck at the very front of the vessel, offering spectacular panoramic views for the journey across to Victoria.
v2v vacations royal class
V2V Empress Royal Class / D.Wilson

Unlike the seating in the other classes, all seats in Royal Class recline and offer foot rests.
v2v reclining leather seats
V2V Royal Class Reclining Leather Seat / D.Wilson

A tray table pulls out from the arm rest to provide a place to eat, drink or work.
v2v seating
V2V Royal Class Table Tray / D.Wilson

A menu is available at each seat offering a selection of complimentary meals and drinks. These are only made available on a complimentary basis in Royal Class and Gold Class.
v2v royal class menu
V2V Royal / Gold Class Menu / D.Wilson

As we settled into our comfortable leather reclining seats, our cabin attendant Rhianne, offered us complimentary welcome beverages. It is interesting to note that V2V is the only mode of transportation between Victoria and Vancouver that offers alcohol on board. However, it comes at an additional cost in all classes.
v2v royal class
V2V Royal Class Beverage Service / D. Wilson

The V2V menu features a selection of locally sourced food and beverages including tea from Victoria's Silk Road Tea House.
v2v royal class
V2V Locally Sourced Silk Road Tea / D.Wilson

A highlight of the vessel is the viewing deck located at the top of the vessel, which is available throughout the journey offering unparalleled panoramic views of British Columbia's stunning scenery.
v2v viewing deck
V2V Empress Viewing Deck / D.Wilson

It was an enjoyable and memorable experience standing on top of the vessel as we sailed underneath Vancouver's Lions Gate Bridge, waving goodbye to Vancouver as we passed Stanley Park.
lions gate bridge
Sailing under the Lions Gate Bridge - Vancouver, BC / D.Wilson

As we entered open water, I returned inside to explore the rest of the ship as the winter wind became too much to bear. The V2V Empress ship is beautiful, modern, spacious, and extremely clean.
v2v vacations
V2V Gold Class / D.Wilson

On the Upper Deck, Royal Class shares the cabin with Gold Class. If you are travelling as a couple, Royal Class certainly offers more privacy seated in pairs.

V2V Empress Upper Deck Seating Map / Source: V2V Vacations

In other classes of service, you may either be seated beside or across from someone. However, that could also be an advantage if you are travelling with friends, relatives, or a larger family. If you have the pleasure of being seated at a table, there is also much more working space for those with laptops.
v2v vacations
V2V Gold Class / D.Wilson

A large television screen in the cabin highlights the vessel's current position and also provides information on local points of interest. There are instances where the Captain may slow or even stop the vessel to observe points of interest or wildlife such as orca whales.
v2v vacations
Live Vessel Tracking / D. Wilson

Something that makes the V2V Empress rather unique is their wooden carved tables featuring sailing charts of the Victoria Harbour and Vancouver Island. They were carved by Jerry Kool.
v2v vacations
Wooden Carved Tables / D. Wilson

On the Main Deck is the Premium Cabin, where the majority of seats are located. A handful of Gold Class seats are also on this deck. Although the seats in Premium Class do not recline or have foot rests, they are extremely comfortable and very affordable. V2V offers a special discounted rate for seats in the middle section of the cabin, when reserved on an advance purchase basis.
v2v vacations
V2V Premium Class / D.Wilson

While exploring the Main Deck, I met Julian Wright, the General Manager of V2V Vacations. I was extremely impressed that he took time to solicit feedback about the journey and overall experience. Naturally, I had nothing but positive feedback to offer. It says a lot about a company when the top executives take time out of their busy schedules to experience things from the passenger's point of view.
v2v premium class
V2V Premium Class / D.Wilson

Premium Class seats are also available with a window. One unique advantage of reserving the lower deck is the ability to sit at the window, closer to the water. It is a unique vantage point watching the scenery pass from the comfort of an enclosed cabin that close to the surface of the water.
v2v vacations
V2V Premium Class Buy On-Board Menu / D.Wilson

Those seated in Premium Class can take advantage of the Hospitality Bar, which is located on the Main Deck. This is where you can purchase a variety of locally sourced snacks, meals, and beverages.
v2v premium class
V2V Premium Class Hospitality Bar / D.Wilson

What may come as a surprise is the affordability of the menu items and the fact that alcohol is available. This is the only mode of transport that serves alcohol between the two cities. I can't tell you how many times I have observed tourists aboard BC Ferries in search of a place to buy an alcoholic beverage. A can of beer starts at just $6, while a signature Meat & Cheese platter can be enjoyed for $12.
v2v buy on board menu
V2V Premium Class Buy On Board Menu / D. Wilson

Think of that the next time you are ordering a White Spot Burger aboard BC Ferries. The quality of the ingredients and the fact that many are locally sourced elevate these snacks and refreshments to an entirely new experience at sea.
vancouver ferry
Luxury Meets Public Transit / D.Wilson

Twelve Gold Class seats are available on the Main Deck. They are configured in pairs.

v2v vacations seating map
V2V Empress Main Deck Seating Plan / Source: V2V Vacations

Personally, I would prefer these seats if seated in Gold Class as they offer panoramic viewing out the front of the vessel and sea level viewing from the sides. As an added bonus, these Gold seats recline unlike their counterparts upstairs. 
v2v vacations
V2V Main Deck Gold Class / D.Wilson

After exploring the Main Deck, I returned upstairs to relax. Rhianne catered to us like an all-star. She was absolutely wonderful. In addition to her professional and personable demeanour, she checked on us frequently to see if there was anything we needed, replenishing beverages on an as needed basis. I especially appreciated that it was not necessary to eat our complimentary meal at a set time. We were able to schedule the time that was most convenient for us to eat.

v2v gold class meal
V2V Royal Class Meal / D.Wilson
The food on board was beautifully presented, absolutely delicious and very satisfying. We ordered the Meat & Cheese selection, which was accompanied by a yam and sweet potato salad, and chocolate truffles.
v2v vacations
V2V Chocolate Truffles / D.Wilson

The truffles were divine and the platter featured island made cheeses. All food on board is supplied by Truffles Catering, which is based in Victoria. The meal is complimentary in Royal and Gold classes. Additional snacks are available for purchase should one find themselves craving for a little more.
robert bateman books
Royal Class Reading Selection / D.Wilson

Complimentary wireless internet is available for all passengers throughout the vessel. This made the time go by extremely quickly. For those seated in Royal Class, a selection of books showcasing the work of Canadian artist Robert Bateman is also available to read. V2V actually shares its Victoria terminal with The Robert Bateman Centre, located inside Victoria's historic Steamship Building.
victoria passenger ferry
On Approach to Victoria Harbour / D.Wilson

What truly sets V2V apart besides the comfort, convenience, and professionalism is the warmth and personalised service from the staff. Gregory, an on-board concierge and deckhand, was particularly professional and kind. He made a personal effort to enhance our journey by providing us with unique commentary about the journey, wildlife and points of interest along the way.
v2v royal class
V2V Royal Class / D.Wilson

As an experienced whale watching captain, Gregory was particularly knowledgeable about the local waters and wildlife native to the region. It is often said that people don't remember the places they visit, but rather the people they meet. Gregory certainly made our trip and because of him, V2V is now my top transport of choice between Victoria and Vancouver. The service on board is professional and personalised -- it truly cannot be beat. It was a pleasure getting to know him and I appreciated that he took the time to get to know us.
v2v empress victoria
V2V Empress Victoria Harbour / D.Wilson

As we approached Victoria Harbour, I had to return to the viewing deck to take in the incredible views of Victoria's stunning harbour. As a local that was raised in Victoria, I can honestly say that the approach to the inner harbour never gets old. It always remains just as breathtaking as the first time you experience it.
v2v royal class
V2V Royal Class Panoramic Views / D.Wilson

Overall, the entire experience was flawless. As someone who has used all modes of transport between Victoria and Vancouver including BC Ferries, Pacific Coastal, WestJet, Harbour Air, HeliJet, and the BC Ferries Connector Coach service, I can honestly state that V2V was my favourite and without a doubt the most relaxing and convenient mode of transport.
v2v vacations
Arrival in Victoria's Inner Harbour / D.Wilson

There is something to be said for travelling harbour to harbour -- no traffic, no changing buses, no security lines, no turbulence or weather delays, no battling for a seat, and few if any queues. We pulled in right on time at the Steamship Terminal, which is V2V's Victoria Home Port. It is literally just steps away from several of Victoria's most iconic hotels and attractions.
v2v victoria office
V2V Victoria Terminal Map / Source: V2V Vacations

I arrived in Victoria's harbour rested and relaxed from the comfort of my seat where I was able to rest, dine, work, and surf the internet. In addition to being a seamless journey, it is faster than the majority of services between the two cities on a harbour to harbour basis.
v2v victoria terminal
Victoria's Steamship Terminal / D.Wilson

The experience is like enjoying a direct flight with no connections. The hassle-free nature of the trip is worth every penny. I can't wait for my next V2V adventure! 

Tip: Travelling in open water can sometimes result in motion sickness depending on weather conditions. If you are vulnerable to motion sickness, it is recommended to bring along appropriate remedies. The rear of the vessel tends to be more stable. 

Note: If you think the BC Ferries Connector is the cheapest and easiest way to travel between Vancouver and Victoria, V2V's Advance Purchase Rate in Premium Class starts at just $70. That's only $15 more than the coach for a faster, seamless, premium harbour-to-harbour experience.

Book online at www.v2vvacations.com


Darryl Wilson

I am an avid traveller, freelance writer, and hospitality management professional. I enjoy helping people see the world through travel by sharing my own experiences and knowledge. British Columbia is an amazing place that is just waiting to be explored. #ExploreBC

    Blogger Comment
    Facebook Comment