If you’ve waited in frustratingly long lines for ferries to and from Washington’s San Juan Islands, relief is on the way. Starting next year travelers will be able to get vehicle reservations on ferries.
Reservations will be available for sailings from Anacortes to Orcas, San Juan, Shaw and Lopez islands and for the return voyage from some of the islands. It will let travelers avoid the hours-long waits that some visitors to the San Juans, and locals, have had to endure on summer weekends.
A vehicle-reservation system for the San Juans has been in the works for years, and Washington State Ferries finalized it recently.
Travelers will be able to make vehicle reservations beginning Dec. 2, 2014, for winter-season sailings beginning Jan. 5, 2015.
Dates for reservations later in 2015 will likely be available a month to two months before the start of each season. For example, reservations for next summer likely will be available in April 2015.
WSF has created a website with extensive online San Juans reservations information. At present, vehicle reservations are offered on the Anacortes-Sidney, B.C., route and Port Townsend-Coupeville sailings.
Some things to know about WSF’s “Save a Spot” San Juans reservation system:
— There is no charge for making reservations, but they must be booked with a credit card and no-show fees will be charged.
— Reservations will be available for westbound sailings from Anacortes to San Juan, Orcas, Shaw and Lopez islands.
— For sailings from the islands to Anacortes, reservations will be available from San Juan Island and Orcas Island but not from Shaw or Lopez to Anacortes, nor for inter-island travel.
— Reservations are not available for walk-on passengers or bike travelers.
— Travelers can create online reservation accounts and will be able to make San Juans vehicle reservations (starting Dec. 2) online at the Washington State Ferries website or by phoning 888-808-7977 or 206-515-3460.
— Drivers do not have to make reservations for San Juans sailings, but about 95 percent of a vessel will be available for reservations.
— Washington State Ferries will hold community outreach events in the San Juan Islands this summer to help islanders learn about the new reservations system.