The Washington State ferry system now allows reservations where you can reserve a space on a ferry for a specific day and sailing time. The ferry system allocates up to 90% of a ferry’s capacity to reservations, so it is a very good idea to get a ferry space reservation for your trip to and from Orcas Summer Camp.
Making a ferry reservation is separate from purchasing a ferry ticket. When you make a ferry reservation, you do not need to purchase a ferry ticket at that time, nor do you need to have a ferry ticket in hand to make a reservation. You are only making a reservation. You will pay for your ferry passage when you arrive at the ferry terminal on August 7 or August 8.
We will offer ferry tickets for sale to Orcas campers at a discount rate starting in July, but, as I mentioned, this is independent of any ferry reservation. You can use the ferry ticket any time within three months of the ticket purchase date.
There is a wealth of information about the reservation system on the WSDOT Ferries web site. See this page for an overview of the reservation system and it is the place to start to make a reservation. There is more detailed information about the reservation allocations here.
Making a reservation
We suggest you make a guest reservation in the ferry reservation system. You’ll need to provide a credit card number to make a reservation. The reservation system will charge you $20 if you do not show up for your reserved space.
The first 30% of the all August ferry sailings will be released on April 21st at 7 AM. This is the date that is two weeks before summer sailing schedule starts in 2020. You can make both reservations on April 21, traveling to Orcas Island before camp and also returning from Orcas Island after camp. Last year all Friday late morning and afternoon sailings to Orcas had filled before noon on the first day of release. You should make a reservation soon after 7 a.m.
The next 30% of the August 7 reservation slots will be released two weeks prior to August 7, so they will be released at 7 AM on July 24. A return trip reservation on August 10 will be possible starting July 27th at 7 AM.
The last 30% will be released two days prior, so that would be August 5 and August 8 (during camp!) respectively. Again, these details are in the links above.
Getting on the boat you want
If, when registration opens, you cannot get a reservation on the sailing you want, select some other sailing that is acceptable. This at least insures that you have a reservation. You can cancel a reservation before 5PM the day before your sailing without incurring a penalty. When the next round of reservations becomes available, try for your preferred sailing again. If you get it, then cancel your first reservation.
If you do not get a reservation, do not despair. Because of no-shows, the ferry system can have 25 spaces available each sailing for those who drive up without a reservation.