More than 700,000 ferries customers will dash through the Sound over Christmas week

People driving vehicles onto vessels should plan for long wait times

Submitted by Washington State Ferries

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but a ferry ride is so delightful — especially for those who plan ahead, avoiding the busiest travel times Christmas week.

More than 700,000 people are expected aboard Washington State Ferries between Friday, Dec. 20 and Monday, Dec. 30. Drive-on customers should plan for long wait times as many travelers head to or from their holiday getaways. Delays may be longest on the Edmonds/Kingston route, where a smaller-than-normal vessel is in service.

Busiest travel times

Christmas falls on a Wednesday this year, meaning the Monday and Tuesday before, and the Thursday, Friday and Saturday following the holiday are expected to be the busiest. Delays are expected in both directions on several routes. Historically, far fewer people catch a ferry during the week of the New Year’s holiday.

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.

Customers may reduce or eliminate wait times by walking on the ferry, and traveling early in the morning or late in the evening. Plan ahead for potential backups and receive real-time traffic information with the WSDOT traffic app for mobile devices.

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 Saturday, Dec. 21 through Friday, Dec. 27, as several afternoon and evening sailings have been canceled due to tidal currents.

Holiday schedules

There will be a few holiday schedule changes for the Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney, British Columbia, route on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

Winter sailing schedule begins Jan. 5

There will be new sailing timetables on many routes starting Sunday, Jan. 5 when the winter schedule goes into effect. There will be fewer sailings on the Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth routes, and service to Sidney, British Columbia will be suspended until spring.

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.