Pack your patience if boarding a state ferry in a vehicle for Thanksgiving travel

Schedules are likely to change frequently on the Edmonds/Kingston route, where a second boat is added daily if crews are available. Customers are encouraged to sign up for rider alerts to receive an update each night and morning on what schedule is operating on each run. The alerts also provide updates if staff shortages lead to unexpected service reductions.

Washington State Ferries is restoring service on a route-by-route basis outlined in its COVID-19 Service Restoration Plan (PDF 794KB) and Progress Report (PDF 631KB). Service has returned to pre-pandemic levels on the Seattle/Bainbridge, Mukilteo/Clinton and Anacortes/San Juan Islands runs. Workforce development is key to restoring sailings on other routes. WSF is actively hiring, training and getting a younger generation interested in the maritime industry.

“Please thank our employees working over the long Thanksgiving weekend as they are sacrificing time with their family and friends to make sure thousands of people can get to and from their holiday destinations safely,” said Patty Rubstello, head of WSF.

Busy travel times

Ferries are popular every holiday weekend and people boarding a ferry by vehicle should be prepared for long waits. The busiest sailings will likely be westbound (or onto an island) Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 23-24, then eastbound (or off island) Friday and Saturday, Nov. 25-26. To reduce or eliminate waiting, riders may consider taking an early morning or late-night sailing or walking on.

Holiday schedules

On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, there will be a few schedule changes for the Mukilteo/Clinton and Point Defiance/Tahlequah routes, along with the Edmonds/Kingston run if supplemental service is added. The Seattle/Bainbridge Island run will operate on a Saturday timetable and the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth route will run a Sunday timetable. Holiday sailings are marked on the schedules for each route.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people wear face masks in indoor public transportation settings, but they are no longer required.

Before heading to a terminal or boarding, people driving on board should check terminal conditions. Anacortes/San Juan Islands and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes also offer vehicle reservations.

People using state highways to get to the ferry terminal should plan ahead for potential holiday travel backups and delays with real-time traffic information on the WSDOT traffic app for mobile devices or online using the updated WSDOT travel map feature.

WSF, a division of the Washington State Department of Transportation, is the largest ferry system in the U.S. and safely and efficiently carries tens of millions of 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.

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