Best for: Vancouver's scenic setting -- the sunset, mountains, and ocean -- add indubitable appeal to this boat cruise. But the cruise isn't quite special enough for big birthdays or major anniversaries, and is better for a fun Friday night date or more low-key celebrations.
Where, When, and How Much:
Price-range: Dinner cruises from $85
- Best sunset views
- Friendly and fun staff
- Top deck has lots of seating
- Get up-close to the huge moored container ships
- See the West End beaches from the water
- Unimpressive food (during my wine-tasting tour)
- Boat décor is a bit dated
- Long walk to the boat over wooden dock (don't wear stiletto heels!)
A long floating dock leads from near Bridges Restaurant down to the Accent Cruises vessels, moored at Granville Island. One evening in May, 2012, I boarded the MV Burrard Queen for a sunset wine tasting cruise.
Staff directed us to the dining area, but it wasn't immediately clear how the wine tasting worked. We made a quick trip to the cash bar, and then sat, eating the nacho chips and jarred salsa, waiting for the action to begin.
The boat departed Granville Island and headed west out of False Creek, traveling along the West End beaches and seawall. Along this waterfront stretch, we spotted many of Vancouver's large outdoor sculptures, including Chinese artist Jun Ren's Water #7 in Vanier Park and sculptor Dennis Oppenheim's two diamond rings called Engagement at Sunset Beach Park. It was about this time that the staff gave everyone a warm welcome and explained the wine tasting (which I will cover in more detail below).
As the boat followed the waterfront, we caught great views of Stanley Park, Siwash Rock, the downtown peninsula, and the Lions Gate Bridge from the rooftop deck. The boat's top deck has small patio tables and chairs, making it a great spot to settle down to take photos and generally enjoy the fresh air.
At Stanley Park, our vessel crossed Burrard Inlet to motor along the West Vancouver shore -- my favorite part of the excursion. Multi-million dollar homes line the West Vancouver waterfront, and these Marine Drive mansions have a completely different look from the water.
At this point in the boat tour, the sun was lying low on the horizon. Our captain steered the boat through large container ships in the harbor (seeing these up-close was another highlight). We caught a classic orange-toned sunset, and then returned below decks for more wine.
Food and Drink:
Food and drink service all happened downstairs, in an enclosed dining room. Large windows on one side of the dining room allowed for excellent water views, and all the tables had fresh linens. The boat seemed full to capacity on our departure, so getting in an out of the seats took some negotiation with neighbors.
I had booked a wine tasting cruise for two at a discount price. To sample from the eight mystery bottles, guests headed up to a central table for buffet-like servings of the wines. Staff poured with a smile. The servings started out at a fair size, but seemed to get smaller during the trip. I'd guess each sampled measured two to three ounces at most. There was also a full bar open throughout the cruise. All the wines I tried and liked would retail for $10-15 per bottle.
The food service, however, was less impressive. Most items seemed to have been bought at a big-box store. The selection of hot pastry appetizers were all packaged. The cheese board was well supplied with goat's cheese, cheddar, and white bread, but not much else. Guests also had a pick of some sweets and a nice selection of fresh fruits.