What comes to mind when you think about cruising? Cocktails on the Lido deck, gourmet meals, shipboard entertainment and exotic destinations? Well, reimagine cruising and conjure up the image of a little engine that could chugging through the waters of False Creek. Now add a Canadian flag, a rainbow coloured exterior and voila – Aquabus. These ferries have been plying Vancouver’s waters since 1983, transporting passengers between stops located along the banks of False Creek. I decided it was time to discover my inner mariner and spend a day with Aquabus, a staycation so to speak.
One of the best deals in town is the Aquabus day pass. For only $15 you can hop on and off these wonderful little ferries and explore the sights and sounds of Vancouver’s False Creek. Yes – cruising on a budget! That’s a deal I could not refuse. I decided to begin my adventure from the Hornby Street Downtown dock. As I stood in front of the sign studying the route, a complete stranger approached. She asked if I was just visiting the city and without prompting enthusiastically suggested the day pass. As a frequent ferry passenger she extolled the virtues of spending a day exploring False Creek, on the ocean – Aquabus style. I didn’t need further encouragement! Before I knew it, I was heading under the Granville Street Bridge and on my way to my first port of call – Granville Island.
Granville Island is a full day trip in its own right! I disembarked to explore the Public Market and sample a few tasty treats. I debated a visit to the brewery, but did not want to challenge my sea legs, knowing a full day of ferry travel was ahead of me. There is much to see and do on Granville Island, but in all honesty, one of my favourite activities is people watching. The courtyard, located directly outside the market, is my go to spot for coffee, treats and people. Never a dull moment!
Departing Granville Island, I was back on the Aquabus, course set for David Lam Park/Homer Street. Being on the water gives you an entirely different perspective of Vancouver. False Creek is a bustling waterway. Fascinated, I stared out the window enthralled by the activity. Kayakers, paddle boarders, sailors and yachtsmen enthusiastically shared the local waters, all on their own personal adventures. As we approached the marina, our petite and feisty ferry was dwarfed by the enormous, sleek, multi-million dollar yachts moored at the dock. They were vessels beyond imagination with whimsical names like Daybreak, Miss Lilly and Blue Yonder. I wondered what life would be like on the open ocean aboard one of these yachts.
During the crossing, a senior staff member from the Aquabus team boarded our vessel and put the captain through a “man-over board” safety procedure. I confess, I was fascinated and found myself eavesdropping! At the dock, I had the opportunity to chat with the manager in charge of safety operations and learn more about the procedure. He patiently explained Transport Canada safety regulations to me and the stellar safety record of the Aquabus fleet. Curious, I asked if tourists often fell overboard. I had visions of a night of revelry in the Entertainment District followed by a tipsy ride home on the ferry. He laughed, replied no and explained occasionally a careless staff member fell in the water while performing routine boat maintenance. The day went all too quickly. I thoroughly enjoyed stops at Stamps Landing, Yaletown, the Edgewater Casino and Science World. Well fed and watered, tired from a day of exploration, it was time to head home. Aye, aye captain, it was a pleasure to sail with you!
You can board the Aquabus from 8 different docks around False Creek. Ride all day, or purchase a one-way ticket. The ferries are handicap accessible and bike friendly. Visit their website for fares and schedules.