BC Ferries is a crown corporation that is charge of running the ferry system in British Columbia.
Many British Columbians are not sure why. In the same way Torontonians complain about the 401, BC residents love to complain about the ferries.
This may be because of continuous fare increases and schedule reductions. For example, a car and drive pays $67 one-way from Tsawwassen – Swartz Bay and in 2008 it was $56. (Source www.bcferries.com/travel_planning/fares/archive.html)
Despite the cost, any of these ferry rides is a beautiful scenic trip.
Most visitors to BC are likely to use either Tsawwassen or Horseshoe Bay, which are both 36 km and 22 km respectively from Vancouver. Tsawwassen primarily services Victoria, primarily and Horseshoe Bay has ferries to Nanaimo, the Sunshine Coast and the Gulf Islands.
The BC Ferries site allows you to reserve your spot for $18.50. They say you have to arrive 30-60 minutes before the sailing. The problem is that if you arrive 60 minutes early for a sailing, at quiet times, you might not need the reservation. However in low season, if you miss your sailing you are looking at a 2 hour wait. (Another BC resident obsession is whether or not you are going to make a sailing.) If you are prone to anxiousness or have connections at the other end, make a reservation.
But, perhaps most important of all, make sure to enjoy the view.