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Despite border reopening, Seattle ferries still can't travel to Canada due to confusing rules

Ferry companies like the Victoria Clipper are awaiting clarification due to conflicting crossing rules between the U.S. and Canada.

SEATTLE — After more than 16 months, the Canadian border is back open to fully vaccinated Americans.

While it's welcome news to the millions of people looking to connect with family, some people hoping to travel by boat will have to wait a little longer. 

On Sunday evening, Victoria Clipper CEO David Gudgel was still waiting for clear guidelines as to if and when the border will be open to marine travel now that it is open to land and air travel.

"We've been working with both governments to align air, land and sea travel," Gudgel said. "We expect an update [Monday] morning." 

The confusion comes from how the two countries view boat travel. The U.S. considers terminals in port cities like Seattle as land travel. Canadian port terminals fall under marine travel.

The company said the confusion and extra wait is just another up and down gray area they have faced since the start of the pandemic going from 200 employees to about 20. 

"Many of them have been trying to hold on so they can come back and work with us. I've had folks who have been here for 30 years so we have a great retention rate and a sense of family," said Gudgel.

He said the confusion is causing an influx of inquiries they can't really answer. 

"A lot of pent-up demand, it's been too long we've been separated from friends, family, colleagues, business partners in an area we've become very used to traveling to easily," Gudgel said, referring to the company's popular round trip service from Seattle to Victoria.

The company has created a fast-track plan that will take 21 days to get up and running once they get the go-ahead from Canadian officials.

When it does open, people traveling to Canada by boat will have to follow the same vaccination and testing requirements as those arriving by land and air.