Does BC Ferries Have Anything to Offer the Gluten Free?

BC-FerriesQUESTION:  I’ve been rooting around on B.C. Ferries’ website for a list of GF foods available and all I found was some prepackaged muffins and a rice and bean burrito. Is that all we have as an option for dining on the ship? Is there another list that I could find that has a menu available? Any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated! And thanks for such a great site for what’s available for us on our visit to your beautiful city! Susan
bc-ferries-gluten-free-wpANSWER: Hi Susan! Thanks for contacting The Scene and your kind sentiments!

Sadly, you’ve hit the mother lode of how very little BC ferries offers gluten-free customers in the cafeteria. A muffin may be nice but it does not constitute a meal. The burrito is microwaved within its plastic wrapping. Is that safe? Nothing cooked in this busy kitchen can be counted on to be celiac safe.

Good News! Try the Pacific Buffet! I look forward to it every time I sail! Served both ways on the Swartz Bay-Tsawassen runs, there are quite a few relatively safe options, is worth the extra cost and the beautifully the peaceful ambiance. No long line up for the soupçon of over-priced, gluten-free options in the cafeteria.

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Note! The Buffet is only offered on the big ships – Coastal Celebration, Spirit of British Columbia and Spirit of Vancouver Island on the standard 7, 9, 11, 1, 3, 7 & 9 sailings both ways. I once had the buffet on the 10am sailing in the busy season but boat repairs in the winter may mean you may board a boat with the buffet. Double check if possible to avoid disappointment.

Menu and Price List: Click here.

  • Breakfast Menu – 7am & 9am  sailings – Adult $21.00 / Child (ages 5-11) $11.50
  • Lunch Menu – 11am & 1pm sailings – Adult $22.25 / Child (ages 5-11) $12.00
  • Light Buffet Menu – 3pm & 9pm sailings -Adult $14.00 / Child (ages 5-11) $8.00
  • Dinner Menu – 5pm &  7pm  sailings – Adult $26.00 / Child (ages 5-11) $13.50

bc-ferries-pacific-buffet-3I Start Out by asking to speak to the chef on duty to take me down the buffet to explain what has been prepared gluten free. At lunch and dinner, they often serve mussels, curried chicken and salmon (gluten free when made with white wine sauce.)  I choose from sections of the entree that appear not to have  been disturbed by others and use a fresh spoon(s) from the cutlery section i.e. not the serving spoon in the dish.

A la Carte When I have inquired about a particular item, the chef has sometimes been able to prepare a separate gluten-free version for me. I’ve had chicken breast (very dry,) spare ribs (best ever,) and salmon in a gluten-free sauce personally delivered to my table in short order.  Other diners wonder about the royal treatment I am receiving!

bc-ferries-pacific-buffet-4Salads with oil, vinegar and basic toppings are safe within reason (i.e. avoid sunflower seeds which might not be sourced gluten-free.) I trust that the cheese and fresh veggies are safe as well. I avoid cold cuts, not knowing if they are celiac safe. For dessert, the chocolate mousse and chocolate mint thins are said to be safe, as was the lovely fresh fruit and whipping cream.

It is not the same huge selection everyone else enjoys and it might take a little while to negotiate all of this, but I leave stuffed, satisfied and safe, every time! Long answer, but I hope you give it a try!