Ferry Cancellation Coincides WIth Anacortes Arts Festival, Worrying Businesses

Jul 31, 2014

With four vessels out of service, users of Washington state’s ferry system are coping with disruptions all around Puget Sound. In Anacortes, the international ferry to Sidney, British Columbia is canceled through Friday, and business leaders in Anacortes say they’re concerned that hotels could be hurt on the town’s busiest weekend of the year.  

The state has had to cancel more than 540 car reservations for the ferry that snakes its way from Anacortes through the San Juan Islands to Sidney and back. That’s because the ferry Chelan, which normally covers that route, had to be shifted to the Edmonds-Kingston route.

"You know, before this happened, all hotel rooms were full in Anacortes," said Stephanie Hamilton, executive director of the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce. "So what we’re trying to determine from our members is how many reservations are now being canceled."

Hamilton says this weekend is the high point of the year for Anacortes, with as many as 100,000 people expected to crowd the town of 16,000 for the arts festival. Hamilton says Canadian tourists are critical, making the ferry particularly important.

"So that tie, every time it’s disrupted, there’s the potential that one more person says, `You know, getting to Anacortes is too hard,'" she said.

Capt. George Capacci, interim chief of the Washington ferry system, says it was a difficult choice to cancel that ferry through Friday. But he says the Chelan was needed on the heavily-used route between Edmonds and Kingston, and service between Anacortes and Sidney is expected to be restored by Saturday.