B.C. Ferries says an out-of-commission vessel travelling a major Island-mainland route will take at least two months to repair.
According to the ferry operator, anyone travelling on the Tsawwassen-Nanaimo route typically served by the Coastal Renaissance should book their spot in advance as space will be limited for those without reservations.
In a Tuesday briefing, Stephen Jones, executive director of engineering, said it is unlikely the motor could be fixed before mid-October.
The company is in the process of notifying customers affected by the cancellations through the upcoming Labour Day long weekend, with everyone affected expected to be contacted by Thursday.
Crews are working to repair the motor of the Coastal Renaissance, which is currently at Departure Bay in Nanaimo. (Submitted by B.C. Ferries)
Karen Tindall, director of customer care, says there is particularly limited space for the September long weekend.
She says those planning on leaving their cars at the ferry terminal should consider other options like taking public transit, carpooling, or rideshare options.
"Parking fills up extremely fast and by Saturday most terminals are seeing parking lots full," said Tindall.
The smaller Queen of Alberni is currently filling in for the Coastal Renaissance. B.C. Ferries has also moved the Queen of Coquitlam from its usual Horseshoe Bay-to-Langdale route to service the Tsawwassen-Nanaimo route on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Jones says the company will conduct precautionary motor inspections on the other operating Coastal class vessels in the next two weeks.
Carly Pereboom, executive director of Tourism Nanaimo, says while ferry cancellations may discourage some travellers from visiting the island, those who can't get ferry reservations could consider other options like flying.
"The Island is still open for business," said Pereboom.
Pereboom hopes the new passenger-only Vancouver-to-Nanaimo ferry route by Hullo will provide more opportunities for travel.
"Hopefully that takes some of the pressure off and gets people across."
President of the B.C. Ferries union says the cancellations not only impact customers, but also puts stress on staff.
"It's a difficult time when we have a vessel down, especially a vessel of this size and capacity," said Eric McNeely.
Technical issues also affect those at call centres and terminals dealing with the cancellations.
"That adds stress to the people who are looking to solve the problem," he said.