Seattle’s Clipper acquired by German group; plans Cuba route

(Photo by Clipper Navigation, Inc.)
(Photo by Clipper Navigation, Inc.)

Clipper Navigation, the Seattle-based company best known for its ferries between Seattle and Victoria, B.C., has been acquired by FRS, a ferry and shipping company in Germany, both companies announced on Tuesday.

The companies also announced expanding services with a new connection between Vancouver and Victoria and creating a route between Florida and Cuba, pending federal approval.

Merideth Tall, founder, CEO and chair of Clipper, will remain in her role and will have minority ownership of the company, according to the joint press release.

Tall and FRS CEO, Götz Becker, expressed excitement over the developments — including the expansion into a new state and a new country.

“When I went on a business trip with U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell to Cuba in 2002, it opened my eyes to the possibilities of a tourism industry between our two countries,” Tall said in the prepared statement.

Since the United States and Cuba announced a thaw to relations in late 2014, at least four ferry companies have received approval from the federal government to establish ferry service between Florida and Cuba, though none of the services have started yet.

Clipper has operated in the Pacific Northwest for 30 years, and also offers ferries between Seattle and San Juan Island, whale watching tours and trips to Whistler, B.C., and Portland.

FRS operates more than 60 vessels in 12 countries, including international and national ferry routes in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East.