BC Ferries is cancelling several sailings between Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland ahead of the Canada Day long weekend.

The ferry service says a problem with the Queen of Alberni's piston assembly has forced the cancellation of the following sailings between Nanaimo, B.C., and West Vancouver on Thursday:

  • 7:40 a.m. out of Departure Bay
  • 10:00 a.m. out of Horseshoe Bay
  • 12:25 p.m. out of Departure Bay
  • 2:45 p.m. out of Horseshoe Bay
  • 5:00 p.m. out of Departure Bay
  • 7:20 p.m. out of Horseshoe Bay
  • 9:30 p.m. out of Departure Bay
  • 11:40 p.m. out of Horseshoe Bay

Engineers are working diligently to resolve the issue as well as make repairs to the vessel's main engine cylinder head and liner, according to BC Ferries.

"The repairs to the Queen of Alberni are significant, and with a number of tests and trials remaining to ensure it is ready to sail, there is a potential impact to service for Friday, July 1," the ferry service said in a statement.

Travellers are encouraged to make alternative travel plans and book in advance

"Our customer service centre will contact customers with bookings on the cancelled sailings to let them know if we have space available to accommodate them on the next available sailing or if their booking must be cancelled," the ferry operator said.

The cancelled sailings were announced as BC Ferries prepares for one of its busiest travel weekends of the year.

"For the first time in six years, July 1 (Canada Day) and July 4 (Independence Day for our American friends) will bookend the same weekend," the ferry service warned.

"We anticipate high vehicle volumes from Thursday, June 30 through Monday, July 4. As a result, vehicle volumes are expected to be very high throughout the weekend."

Customers are encouraged to carpool or travel as foot passengers if possible. Walk-on passengers are advised to consider taking public transit or get dropped off at the terminal as parking will be limited.