With a large ferry down and lots of travelers, plan for long waits over Memorial Day weekend

SEATTLE — While long waits at ferry terminals are standard on most holiday weekends, this Memorial Day weekend may be even more challenging for those driving a vehicle on board.

One of the state ferry system’s largest boats, the Wenatchee, is not running after a fire. That, along with ongoing service reductions and COVID-19 staffing challenges, is causing most routes to operate on timetables different from Memorial Day weekends prior to COVID-19.

Because the Wenatchee is down, some routes are down a ferry and are using a smaller boat.

The Washington State Department of Transportation said riders should double check sailing schedules. The busiest sailings will likely be in the westbound direction Friday, May 28, and then eastbound Sunday and Monday, May 30 and 31. WSDOT said to cut down wait times, riders could consider taking an early morning or late evening sailing.

Here are the changes to each route while the Wenatchee is out of service:

  • Seattle/Bainbridge Island: One smaller vessel.
  • Seattle/Bremerton: One smaller and slower vessel requiring cancellation of a midday roundtrip and some adjusted departure times.
  • Mukilteo/Clinton: One smaller vessel.
  • Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth: Two-boat schedule instead of three using one smaller vessel.
  • Anacortes/San Juan Islands: Schedule is like previous late June through late September timetables, without a fifth vessel for international service to Canada.
  • Port Townsend/Coupeville: One-boat service instead of two.

There’s also changes at Colman Dock that people boarding the ferry in Seattle will want to know about.

The vehicle holding lanes and turnstiles for Bainbridge Island and Bremerton departures swapped places recently to accommodate the smaller ferry on the Seattle/Bremerton route. The Seattle/Bainbridge Island run is temporarily operating out of slip 3 at Colman Dock with Bremerton using slip 1.

Masks or required on all ferries and terminals, and people who boarded in a vehicle are encouraged to remain inside them.

Before boarding, riders can sign up for ferry email alerts and check terminal conditions.