Queen of Cowichan
About this ferry
The Queen of Cowichan provides regular ferry service between Nanaimo (Departure Bay) and Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay).
Note: Due to COVID-19, some amenities are currently closed. Learn more about our onboard amenities and check which ones are available.
As part of our ongoing commitment to safety, operational guidelines call for regular and frequent safety drills for all crew members on every ferry.
Over 1,000 drills will be conducted this year to ensure the highest safety standards for our ferries and crews.
In the event of an emergency, always follow the instructions of ferry’s personnel.
Important: in the case of an emergency, elevators are not available and vehicle access may be prohibited.
The following signals are used to crew members to an emergency:
Continuous ringing of the alarm bell.
- Person overboard
Three long soundings of the whistle and general alarm bell. Keep outer decks clear where rescue operations are underway.
- Boat/Raft stations
Seven (or more) short soundings, followed by one long sounding of the ferry’s general alarm and/or whistle.
Signals will be followed by an announcement explaining the nature of the emergency. If you hear a signal, don’t panic. Our crew will take immediate charge of the situation and clearly explain exactly what to do.
If the ferry needs to be evacuated, there are two marine evacuation chute stations on each side of the main passenger deck, which deploy into inflatable rafts.
Each system contains two chutes and four integral life rafts. The inflatable chutes are easy for passengers to use to slide down to a life raft. For passengers unable to use the chutes, there are supplementary life rafts fitted under the rescue boat cranes.
- The four systems combined have an evacuation capacity of 1,720 people
- In total, the life rafts can accommodate more people than the maximum the ferry can carry
Should there ever be a need to evacuate the ferry, crew members will direct you to an evacuation area.
This ferry carries two rescue boats to assist with life raft maneuvering, emergency response, and passenger recovery. Rescue boats will tow life rafts to safety.
Life jackets are stowed in clearly marked lockers on the passenger deck and sun deck.
Three sizes of life jackets are available:
- One for infants less than 33 pounds (15 kg)
- One for children up to 90 pounds (41 kg)
- One for adults
In the unlikely event of an emergency, crew members will instruct you on the proper use of your life jacket.
Fire extinguishers are located in all interior and exterior passenger areas, plus:
- Manual pull stations throughout the ferry
- Manual deluge system on the vehicle decks
- CO2 fire suppression flood system in the Engine Room
- A chemical fire suppression system in the Galley
This ferry meets all Canadian stability requirements including the TP 10943 (SOLAS ’90 (Safety of Life at Sea)) damage stability standards for two compartment damage.
The hull is subdivided into nine watertight compartments. Two automated watertight doors are fitted. Watertight integrity is monitored continuously from the bridge. All watertight opening and hatches are inspected, tested, and serviced annually.
Monitoring for safety
This ferry has video cameras installed, allowing the bridge and engineering crew to continuously monitor all areas of the ferry and remotely activate safety systems quickly. The crew also maintains regular inspection rounds of the ferry during the sailing.
View schedule for the route between Nanaimo (Departure Bay) and Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay)
Get tips for travelling with pets
Find the perfect gift on board at Passages
Back to our ferries
The information on this page applies to the Queen of Cowichan only. Locations and complement of safety equipment on other ferries will vary.
Important: Ferries are periodically modified. BC Ferries does not accept any responsibility or liability for any errors in the information provided.
- Built 1976
- Overall length (m) 139.0
- Maximum displacement (t) 6508.0
- Car capacity 312
- Passenger & crew capacity 1494
- Maximum speed (knots) 20.5
- Horsepower 11860
To ensure a safe and comfortable journey for all passengers, BC Ferries provides a variety of accessibility options, including discounted passenger fares, assistance getting on and off the ferry, and wheelchairs to borrow for boarding.
The Queen of Cowichan has accessible washrooms on Decks 5 and 6, and two elevators on board.
During extreme weather, passenger elevators may be unavailable due to safety regulations.
If you use a wheelchair, let the agent at the ticket booth know when you arrive, and we will do our best to arrange for you to park as close as possible to an elevator.
Assistance in an emergency
If you would require assistance in the event of an emergency, inform the ticket agent at the terminal and a crew member on the ferry.
Learn more about BC Ferries accessibility.