Booze to roll out on some BC Ferries sailings this summer

Booze to roll out on some BC Ferries sailings this summer

WATCH: For almost 60 years now, BC Ferries has had a strict no booze-on-board policy on it’s busiest routes. But that prohibition on the high seas may be ending! Yes, you will soon be able to drink alcohol on some ships, just in time for summer. But as Kori Sidaway tells us, not everyone is on-board with the new pilot project.

The ferries: a rush, and then a big wait. Wifi is spotty, and boredom creeps in. But what if there was a beer was waiting for you on board?

“I’m going to Vancouver tomorrow and I’m just thinking about that it would be nice to have a few drinks before meeting up with my friends,” said Aiden Loughlin, who lives in Victoria.

This summer, BC Ferries will be testing out booze on-board.

Locally brewed beer and wine are set to crack open on ships sailing between Victoria and Vancouver in the Pacific Buffets.

The libations will be available after 11 a.m., with a two-drink maximum per customer.

It’s something already available in the summer months between Prince Rupert to Port Hardy, and for our neighbours down south.

“It’s something that’s a bit of a tradition, that’s gone on for years here at Washington State Ferries,” said Ian Sterling, communications director with Washington State Ferries.

“Tourists and afternoon walk-on commuters seem to really enjoy having a brew on the way home, especially on a Friday afternoon.”

But here on the South Island where boating and beers is new, some think it’s a bad mix.

“Here we’re going to be allowing them on the ferry to boy drinks and then who knows what condition they’ll be in when they drive off the other side, so I’m dead against it,” said local Leonard Rousseu.

“I know I can regulate myself, but for other people, it may be an issue,” said Victoria resident Morgan Shannon.

It’s also a major concern for the Ferry Workers Union.

“The issue that I’m hearing the most from our workers, is about the abuse of workers,” said Graeme Johnston, the president of BC Ferry Workers’ Union.

“It’s already a big problem, and pouring liquor on that problem could only make it worse.”

But Washington Ferries says for them, it’s been generally smooth sailing.

“It has worked out well south of the border here. We don’t see any trouble from this,” said Rousseau.

“We do get questions from time to time – obviously we carry cars on the boat and we don’t want people to drink and drive. But the same as if you were going to a bar, you’re not supposed to drink alcohol and drive a car!”

BC Ferries is doing a risk assessment, sending staff through Serving It Right training, and ironing out just how they’re going to track the two drink maximum before the beverage pilot program rolls out this summer.

Kori SidawayKori Sidaway

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