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New passenger ferry ready for reservations

Fares start at $120 for premium seats and top out at $240

It's still more than two months until a new high-speed luxury passenger ferry service starts cruising the waters between Victoria and Vancouver, but reservations are now officially open for those anxious to get on board.

The journey on the V2V Empress will take three-and-a-half hours, and is divided into three levels of seating — premium comfort, first class and royal class. Pricing for the premium seats begins at $120 (for adults) and tops out at $240 for royal class. Trips will depart from the Convention Centre docks in Vancouver at 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Victoria at the Steamship Terminal in the Inner Harbour.

The announcement of the new service last year has many people buzzing about another way to reach Vancouver, but now that the cost has been revealed, some aren't as thrilled. On Twitter, one man noted people already complain about the $16 walk-on for B.C. Ferries, and wasn't sure how many would be willing to spend $120 each way.

Nick Cheong, VP of V2V Vacations, said people need to understand the value of what they get for the price they're paying.

“Once they do try out the service I think it's going to surprise them and they are going to realize this is different than how I normally travel from Vancouver to Victoria,” said Cheong. “We are looking to provide something special onboard.”

During the voyage, guests will have the opportunity to learn about the culture of the region, taste local flavours through the on-board menu and sip local beer and wine. Activities in both cities can also be booked on the vessel that seats 254 passengers.

The 40-metre long vessel was towed from Quebec to Victoria last spring to undergo an extensive refit process. All of the vessel's systems are being upgraded to make sure it's reliable for the journey across the Salish Sea. The interior has also been completely gutted to make way for new ceilings, floors, walls and finishing touches on the main and upper deck.

Cheong said the plan is to have the refit done at the end of March, followed by a period of trials to iron out any bugs before the service is launched May 1.

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