A myriad of crewing challenges could impact BC Ferries sailing times and plans to provide additional services on some routes this spring and summer.
“Higher than expected retirements in key shipboard positions, the impact of vaccination policies and difficulties recruiting international candidates due to COVID-19, as well as the 25-year global shortage of professional mariners are expected to pose ongoing challenges to hiring sufficient employees for what is expected to be a busier than usual peak summer season,” the independently managed private company said in a news release Friday, March 25.
BC Ferries noted it is not alone facing recruitment challenges and cited Washington, Alaska and New Zealand have announced similar crew shortages impacting services.
Compounding the crew challenges, the company said, are changing travel patterns coming out of the height of the COVID-19 pandemic with spring and fall busier as people seek to travel following two years of restrictions while avoiding the traditional peak summer season.
“The flow of travellers off Vancouver Island in slow travel periods is also an emerging trend.”
BC Ferries said several initiatives, such as significant recruitment efforts, have supported filling 600 positions required for the summer, however, warned some potential service interruptions may be predictable and mitigated by changing sailing times.
Any disruptions will be communicated to the public and travellers are encouraged to book early, travel in slow periods, consider going as a foot passenger and check the BC Ferries website before travelling.