I had to laugh when I recalled our experience with this. We booked an excursion from our hotel (about $100 US each) because we didn't have a rental car, and BE WARNED!! This is a great, great trip, but it is a long day. The brochure stated that we would leave at 9:00 a.m. and could return about 8:00 p.m. or so. Well, the shuttle bus picked us up at our hotel at 8:00 a.m., then we drove around to the other hotels. Then they took us to a bus station so that we could take our bus to the ferry (another couple of hours). Then we got on the ferry, and it was great. I think we got to Victoria around noon or 1:00 p.m. Then we went on our whale watching excursion, which I HIGHLY recommend because it was so great, and then we did a walking tour of Victoria from www.frommers.com
and shopped and enjoyed that beautiful waterfront. Then we took the last bus back to the ferry (it was about 8:30 p.m.) and got back to our hotel around 12:30 a.m. the next morning. It was a long day but was so worth it. This is a long explanation, but I didn't want you to be fooled like we were when we read the brochure because we didn't realize how long it would take us to get there and back. But it was stress-free (we're in our early 40s but we get tired of the maps and all that when we are on vacation) since we didn't drive, and Victoria is so lovely.