BC Ferries Coastal Celebration

BC Ferries makes the Pacific Buffet walk the plank

This article was published on June 7, 2023 and could contain information that has since changed or become out-of-date.
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After 40-plus years, passengers traveling the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route will no longer get to savour sliced roast beef while sailing through Active Pass as BC Ferries has confirmed the Pacific Buffet has now permanently closed.

Service in the Pacific Buffet was paused during the pandemic; as things have returned to normal, the food stations and seats remain silent. In a statement, the company said seven employees were needed to staff the buffet for each sailing; given the current environment where sailings are cancelled due to crew shortages and mounting costs in running the buffet, it only made sense to discontinue the floating smorgasbord.

In place of the all-you-can-eat dining options, BC Ferries is looking for feedback over the next three weeks on what could replace the service. Previous possibilities included a casino, weddings/events venue, and a spa, all of which were discounted due to lack of demand or practicality (imagine an at-sea wedding service with no buffet). In the meantime, seating reserved for the Pacific Buffet will open up to accommodate the busy summer travel season.

Passengers looking for their ferry food fix can still grab White Spot entrees in the Coastal Café, or coffee and light snacks from the Arbutus Coffee Bar or Seawest Lounge.

The Pacific Buffet was only available on three vessels serving the Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route: MV Spirit of Vancouver Island, MV Spirit of British Columbia and MV Coastal Celebration (pictured at top). Some 432,307 meals were sold during the period between April 1st, 2019 and February 29th, 2020. Of the 4.87 million passengers who traveled this route in this timeframe, less than nine per cent of them took advantage of the buffet.

According to the BC Ferries website, Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay route takes an hour and 35 minutes to complete.

Source: BC Ferries press release


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