Northern Expedition to serve islands all winter

  • Sep. 12, 2011 4:00 p.m.

Islanders who travel across Hecate Strait over the winter months will make the trip aboard the Northern Expedition, a much bigger and newer ferry than the Northern Adventure. BC Ferries has announced that the Northern Expedition will be serving the Skidegate to Prince Rupert route, as well as the Rupert to Port Hardy route, from Oct. 1 until the end of March 2012. Many islanders have been calling for the Northern Expedition to serve the Skidegate-Rupert route in winter since the new ferry was delivered to BC two years ago. They say the Northern Adventure, the used ship bought to replace the Queen of the North, is not suited to the harsh winter conditions in Hecate Strait. The Northern Adventure also has a rolling motion that seems to make some people seasick. BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said the reason why the Northern Expedition couldn’t provide winter service in the past is that the ship was too large to fit into the dock at Klemtu, a small community on the central coast. Now that the federal and provincial governments have built a new dock at Klemtu, the Northern Expedition can be accommodated. The new dock opened last month. A couple of islanders told the Observer last week they are concerned that the cabins on the Northern Expedition have only two beds, which means a family of four will have to pay twice as much for rooms on overnight sailings than they would on the Northern Adventure, where all rooms have four bunks. Ms Marshall confirmed that the Northern Expedition cabins have two beds, and that no four-berth cabins are available. She said two-bed rooms are standard. The Northern Adventure was purchased used, and just happened to come with four beds in a cabin. “You’ll probably recall that the cabins on the Queen of Prince Rupert and Queen of the North had two beds also,” she said. “Most common bookings are for two passengers.” Ms Marshall said that two-berth cabins cut down on laundry costs as well. That’s because staff launder the sheets on all the beds in a cabin after use for hygenic reasons, so even if only one person stayed in a room on the Northern Adventure, the sheets on all four beds would have to be washed. The cost for an inside cabin on the Haida Gwaii route will be $65, and the cost for an outside cabin will be $75.

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