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Weekend Pass

Scenic Victoria

Northwest Guardian

Published: 11:10AM September 13th, 2012
Scenic Victoria

Photo Courtesy of Tourism Victoria

In Victoria, British Columbia, families can enjoy a stroll through Butchart Gardens, a 55-acre family-owned flower garden.

Traveling to another country is often expensive, but with special rates to Victoria, British Columbia available to all active duty, reserve and retired military personnel and their immediate family members, international travel is surprisingly affordable.

The Victoria Clipper is a walk-on, passenger-only ferry that operates throughout scenic Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Vacation packages are also available to destinations like Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, Portland, Ore. and the San Juan Islands.

Families might enjoy a stroll through Butchart Gardens, a 55-acre, family-owned flower garden. In the winter, the garden is transformed into a spectacular display of holiday lights. The Fairmont Empress hotel hosts British-style afternoon tea, and a two-hour haunted Victoria tour by lantern light is offered throughout October. Clipper Vacations offers optional tours and activities in Victoria to add to vacation packages, and additional nights can be booked as well.

During the nearly three-hour cruise to Victoria, passengers on the high-speed ferry can enjoy food or beverages from the boat’s on-board menu. The Victoria Clipper also offers a duty-free shop where passengers can purchase high-end goods. U.S. citizens are allowed $200 in purchases if traveling back to the U.S. in less than 48 hours, or $400 if traveling back to the U.S. after 48 hours.

If a trans-continental overnight excursion doesn’t sound interesting, skip the hotel stay and purchase round-trip same day travel for only $50 per adult or $20 per child from September through March. There are also whale-watching and sea life tours. Orca pods are active throughout the Puget Sound from May through September, and grey whale viewing is offered from March through May. These day excursions are also discounted significantly.

The Victoria Clipper terminal is located at Pier 69 on Alaskan Way in Seattle. Discounted daily parking is available for $10 at the Bell Street Garage and the Seattle Trade and Technology Center, both located near the terminal in downtown Seattle. A Clipper Vacations ticket stub is needed to get the $10 rate.

From October to December 2012, the standard package rate for round-trip travel from Seattle aboard the Victoria Clipper and overnight accomodations in Victoria’s Inner Harbour is discounted 25 percent, from $128 to $97 per person. What makes this deal even better is that children 12 and under are free with a paying adult.

For United States and Canadian citizens, a passport, passport card, enhanced driver’s license or an enhanced identification card is required to cross the border. Parents traveling with children under 16 must provide proof of citizenship for each child, such as a birth certificate.