Saturday in Poland. It looked promising. As I looked down on the dockside where we were berthed, 3 white vehicles were parked. All had stickers marked
CUNARD – SHUTTLE BUS
Fantastic. The message must be getting through. They were adapted vehicles designed to take 2 wheelchairs and seats for 6 others.
By the time we were off the ship, 2 of the adapted vehicles had left for town. We were loaded into the 3rd and off we went on a 20 minute ride. We were told that the drop off point was the Riviera Shopping Mall which meant nothing to us, but when we arrived we found that we were in the middle of a large carpark, miles from any of Gdynia’s highlights. There was this massive shopping Mall and nothing else. All the shuttles were going there dropping off hundreds of Queen Victoria’s passengers.
You know me by now. I hardly ever complain (!) but this smacked of something underhand. Why would Cunard want to deposit hundreds of their guests at a vast shopping mall, miles from the centre of the town in a country the guests had probably never been to before? I wonder who funded or contributed to the cost of the transport to the mall?
I will be preparing a paper for Cunard. I apologise for boring you with this but I fear that Cunard hand over the transport issues and the organisation of tours to local operators and retain little or no control themselves over what happens.
What was also of interest was that at the drop off point in the vast carpark were a number of taxis, waiting for passengers who would soon realise that they had been dropped in the middle of nowhere. The taxi drivers would then take away those who wanted to see the highlights of Gdynia and/or Gdańsk. Of course none of those taxis could take a wheelchair so we were lumbered!
A vast supermarket – the biggest I have ever seen on the ground floor and then floor after floor populated by every worldwide retail outlet known to man.
The most exciting part of the day was when Jane and Kim decided to leave me as I was trying to buy a piece kit to enable me to transfer photos from my camera to my new iPad. The lead I had, worked on my old iPad but not the new one. You all know what Apple are like. Perpetually changing the fittings. I thought Kim said they were off to Matalan on the first floor, but I apparently misheard her.
The chap in the electrical shop eventually decided that he didn’t have the bit if kit I needed but said there was an Apple Store in the complex and pointed me in what he said was the right direction. I never found the Apple Store. Having walked for what seemed like hours, I thought I ought to find Kim and Jane. An information kiosk told me they had never heard of Matalan. I looked at my phone for Kim’s number. I didn’t have it.
Houston – Mission Control – we have a problem.
Where in this massive complex could they possibly be? Do I go back to the electrical store and hope that they back track there or do I go to the shuttle drop off point and hope they go there?
Then I see a sign for TK Maxx. Could that be the place that they were going to on the 1st floor? Jane likes the one at Hedge End. This one is vast and I scour it with no success. I contemplate a coffee and then Kim spots me. Drama over. And what sort of coffee are we forced to endure? Costa Coffee. The one I avoid at home.
The outing to Gdynia is not what we had hoped.
As we were sorting out adapted buses 2 days later for the trip into Copenhagen, I raised the issue of the shuttles into Gdynia very gently with a very nice member of the tour staff. Clearly I wasn’t the first to raise the issue as she had an immediate answer. She said the local council would not provide a place for the shuttle buses to drop off and pick up passengers! Does anyone think that likely? The local council would surely be desperately keen to have hundreds of tourists visiting their town and spending money there.