A few months into my move to Victoria from Metro Vancouver, I feel I have now had the full BC Ferries experience.
I hadn’t taken a ferry in more than a decade, but have now travelled between Victoria and the mainland more than 10 times as I slowly move my stuff – and family – over.
I’ve taken a car on the ferry.
I have walked onto the ferry.
I have eaten on the ferry.
I have sat in all sorts of places on the ferry.
I have waited for long stretches for ferries after sailings were delayed for various vague reasons.
I have even struggled to buy stuff from the ferry vending machines – I think I’m not the only one.
And, now, I have sailed on the ferry in the Seawest Lounge on one of my recent trips.
If you haven’t tried the Seawest Lounge – promoted by BC Ferries as “quiet comfort” – let me tell you about what it entails.
For an extra $14, you get to eat and drink pretty much as much as you want. There are baked goods, fruit, cheese, crackers, nuts and yogurt. For drinks, there’s Starbucks coffee, teas and juice boxes.
But it’s not just the food. You also get to sit in a private lounge with seating that is better than most other seating on the ship, including reclining seats.
You also get access to a large private bathroom that doesn’t smell like a prison toilet – like the rest of the boat.
I was in a bad mood on this particular trip and so I decided to try something that might offer me some extra comfort to cheer me up.
It’s never fun to pay more money, but I was in the right mood. The crowd in the lounge was sparse and so I felt like I had more privacy than the usual throngs on the ferry.
The staff member was excellent – very polite and diligent about filling up the trays.
I don’t drink coffee or tea so I had to drink the juice boxes, which were tiny. The food was just so-so. The donuts tasted stale and the rest didn’t look too appetizing, especially these mediocre cheese buns. As for the “fresh fruit” that was promised, it was a bunch of beat-up apples and that was it.
The thing about paying for an all-you-can-eat experience is that no matter how mediocre the food looked, I felt pressure to eat my money’s worth so I filled up.
The best part of the lounge is the seating. Really comfortable. And the place was pretty quiet, unlike the rest of the ferry spaces with kids running around.
I was, however, disappointed that the TV didn’t appear to be working.
The private bathroom, however, really made up for that. It’s nice to do your business in a bathroom that doesn’t stink with that humid funk you get on the rest of the ferry.
Is it worth $14? Yeah, on that day it was. Would I do it again? Probably, but only if my mood was enough that I needed cheering up.
The whole thing feels weird that a place that you need to pay extra is open, but the big coffee shops on each ferry always seem to be closed.
Oh, and one other note, all of the other people who paid for the Seawest Lounge were men. Not sure if that’s always the case, but thought it was funny.
Chris Campbell is an editor for Black Press Media in the Victoria hub of newspaper. You can follow him on Twitter @shinebox44.
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