Booze cruise: BC Ferries launches pilot program allowing beer, wine
TSAWWASSEN - Passengers on some BC Ferries sailings officially have a new beverage option as of Thursday, with alcohol now for sale in the Pacific Buffet on some trips between Vancouver and Victoria.
But strict rules are in place for those who want to have a glass of beer or wine on their voyage. Passengers must be legal drinking age, must buy a meal in the buffet, and can only consume one alcoholic beverage while on board. Alcohol will only be on sale in the buffet and must be consumed in the buffet area. Passengers cannot bring their own alcohol.
The one-drink maximum is a change from initial plans announced earlier in the year, which would have allowed passengers two drinks.
“We do think BC Ferries has done a good job with creating that policy around the safety of customers and to prevent overconsumption,” Tracy Crawford with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada told CTV News by phone Thursday.
Crawford says her organization was consulted about the project, along with other stakeholders, and had initially voiced serious concern about whether allowing alcohol on board could lead to safety issues.
“We did express that we didn’t feel initially that serving alcohol would be something they should be doing on BC Ferries,” Crawford said. “As this project was moving forward we respect the fact BC Ferries did listen to some of our recommendations, including additional staff training.”
Crawford says another recommendation they are hoping to see implemented would be clear signage advising passengers what to do if they believe someone is intoxicated or impaired while on board.
CTV spoke with several passengers at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal Thursday morning who feel the rules for alcohol sales are reasonable.
“It’s about time,” passenger Coco Andre Leroux told CTV News. “It’s a good start ... British Columbia has always been a little slow getting there. It’s going to work.”
“As long as they limit it and regulate it I think it’s a nice little thing people can look forward to when they come on the ferry and enjoy a drink,” said Alexa Hofing. “Maybe it’s a way to meet people as well”
Beer and wine sales will begin on 11 a.m. sailings and be cut off 30 minutes before docking. The Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route is generally just over 90 minutes long.
Children and people under the legal drinking age will still be welcome in the Pacific Buffet dining area during the pilot project, BC Ferries said.
BC Ferries already serves alcohol on its northern routes, including sailings to and from Port Hardy, Prince Rupert, Haida Gwaii and the Central Coast, but this is the first time beer and wine are being offered to passengers going from the mainland to Vancouver Island.
It is only in effect on three vessels; the Spirit of British Columbia, the Spirit of Vancouver Island and the Coastal Celebration.
BC Ferries says it still has a zero tolerance policy for impaired driving.
MADD Canada is urging passengers that have concerns about the program or any safety concerns to contact BC Ferries.
The pilot program is expected to be in effect for a year. BC Ferries says it will then be evaluating the program and feedback from customers and staff before deciding what will come next.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Andrew Weichel