BC Ferries pricing themselves out of the market
I defy anyone in BC Ferries to say the declining ridership they have been seeing on the Inside Passage isn't related to increasing ferry fares - fares that are only getting higher and higher.
While working on the story about ferry traffic numbers for this week, I was curious about what it would cost for a family to take the scenic trip between Prince Rupert and Port Hardy. The answer blew my mind.
Let's assume a family of four with two children over 12 years of age and a typical car or minivan. For that family to take a day cruise along the Inside Passage, the total bill would be $1,223.50. If they happen to be traveling in a motorhome 20-feet or larger, that figure balloons to $1,539. If the motorhome is larger than 20 feet, as most are, add $22.25 per extra foot such that a 30-foot motorhome would cost $1,761.50.
At this point I would also be remiss in mentioning that anyone over the age of 12 is considered an adult in the eyes of BC Ferries and comes with a ticket price of $194.75.
Those costs are just to get on the boat and don't include any food, drinks, pillows, blankets or other amenities travelers may need.
So, to summarize, to take a 15-hour trip along the coast in a car will cost a family of four over $80 per hour plus expenses, or approximately $20 per person per hour. There are other things that cost $20 per person per hour for sure, but they don't require such a lengthy commitment.
If I were planning a vacation, I would be hard pressed to find a reason to take the Inside Passage. $1,223.50 can go a long way and can easily be stretched out to a multi-day vacation as opposed to a single day trip. BC Ferries may not see other vacation options as competition, but everything out there is competition for the tourist dollar.
They say a key to marketing is knowing your audience - with these prices I would say the audience for the Inside Passage is leaning to the extremely financially well off.