Local Information

Smooth ferry sailing during busy Thanksgiving holiday requires planning, patience

Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 10:40

Broch Bender 206-305-5516
WSF media hotline, 206-402-8070

After the holiday, prepare for Colman Dock changes starting Nov. 26

SEATTLE – It’s not just those awkward dinner table conversations that Thanksgiving travelers need to prepare for – they also need to be ready for long ferry lines and heavy traffic throughout the holiday weekend. With nearly 350,000 people expected to ride a ferry from Wednesday, Nov. 21, to Sunday, Nov. 25, it’s best to leave early and use technology to help with trip planning.

Washington State Ferries expects the longest lines westbound Wednesday, Nov. 21, in the afternoon and evening and Thursday, Nov. 22, in the morning. Eastbound traffic picks up Thursday afternoon and Friday, Nov. 23.

If possible, travelers can save time by walking on the ferry – passenger capacity is far greater than vehicle capacity on all ferries – and by purchasing tickets online. Passengers driving onto ferries should arrive early and may want to travel during off-peak times. Vehicle reservations for the Anacortes/San Juan Islands/Sidney, British Columbia and Port Townsend/Coupeville routes also are recommended.

“Our WSF family’s goal is to get everyone to their destination safely,” said WSF head Amy Scarton. “While the lines are longer during holidays, once aboard, ferry travelers can enjoy one of the most scenic ways to get to their Thanksgiving dinner.”

Extra San Juan sailing
One extra holiday sailing is being added to accommodate increased traffic and is not indicated on the printed or online sailing schedule: Wednesday, Nov. 21, at 1:55 p.m. from Anacortes to Orcas.

Additional travel tips
Here are some more tips to for smooth holiday ferry travel:

Colman Dock changes start after Thanksgiving weekend
Starting Monday, Nov. 26, the entire north half of the Seattle ferry terminal will be under construction and closed to vehicles waiting for the ferry. The toll plaza and the southern vehicle waiting lanes will remain open, however when the lanes are full, drivers will be directed to wait at the off-site overflow vehicle waiting area on Pier 48. Motorists should plan to arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled sailing to accommodate the smaller dock.        

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.

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