BC Ferries Coastal Renaissance

Coastal RenaissanceYesterday the Nanaimo public had a chance to look around the new 160-meter Coastal Renaissance, the first of three Super C-class vessels British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. is putting into service on its Vancouver Island to Vancouver routes. When it begins regular service in March, 2008, the Coastal Renaissance will be the largest double-ended ferry in the world, carrying 1,600 passengers and 370 cars at a speed of 21 knots.

Not all of the Coastal Renaissance's eight decks were open on Saturday, but several thousand local residents did get a chance to walk through the diesel-electric-powered engine room and high-tech bridge, areas usually strictly off limits to everyone but insiders. I even got a chance to shake hands with the captain!

I really liked the look of the Sitka Coffee Place on Passenger Deck 6, and I imagine there will be a regular rush to occupy the window seats there. The Coastal Café at the other end of the same deck isn't as luxurious but has more seating. There are video and kids zones to entertain the young ones, plus a trendy gift shop. In the SeaWest Lounge on the passenger deck you can get window seating with snacks and drinks for a $10 extra fee, although strangely this lounge lacks computer plugs. A bank of business workstations are on Passenger Deck 5.

All in all, the Coastal Renaissance and sister ships are a big advance for BC Ferries, though it's a pity they couldn't have been built in British Columbia. Still, the German shipyard seems to have done a good job. The Coastal Renaissance will operate between Departure Bay and Horseshoe Bay, while the Coastal Inspiration will serve Duke Point to Tsawwassen and the Coastal Celebration Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen. Four older ferries built in the 1960s, which the Super C-class ferries will replace, are currently up for sale.

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