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Thread: Issue with ferry travel

  1. #1
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    Issue with ferry travel

    Hi,
    I travel regularly between the UK and France and the best route for us is with Brittany, Portsmouth to St Malo. Unfortunately the ship used on this route, Bretagne, is getting on a bit and only parts of it have been adapted to make life easier for wheelchair users. There are two lifts from the car decks, one goes to the nice adapted part, the other is an accident waiting to happen.

    I could live with the narrow corridors and 90 degree turn, but the problem is that sharp corner is at the head of a staircase which means that whoever is pushing me has to descend two or three steps to make enough room to get round, which is clearly not ideal on something that moves unpredictably. The obvious solution is parking wheelchair users by the nice lift, however the loading staff mostly won't do that as it's more convenient for them to put anyone with a disabled sticker by the nasty lift. In 8 crossings, we've been parked by the nice lift just once, and no amount of arguing or complaining before, during and after the crossings has ever made any difference.

    Before we just give up and use a different route, which will be vastly more expensive because of extra motorway tolls and the cost of hotel rooms because of the longer journey, is there anything else I could try? I understand the Equality Act doesn't apply to ferries.

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    I'm not sure just what you are asking for here?

    Making old buildings accessible can be a major problem, an old seagoing ferry is going to be almost impossible to adapt.

    It sounds like they have actually done the best that they can and made some parts accessible., which as you note they did not have to.

    Is there any reason why once parked you could not cross the car deck to the accessible lift?

    Other than that I guess it's wait until they get a newer boat, or use a company that already has one.
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  3. #3
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    Hi,
    Thanks for replying. The problem is that we could be parked by the lift to the more accessible parts of the ship but it's easier for the boarding crew to park us elsewhere. Once parked, it's often difficult to even walk between the vehicles so getting a wheelchair past is never going to happen. If it were simply that the ship isn't suitable, fair enough, but it has been partly adapted and that area of the ship is a joy by comparison with most ferries.
    Mostly what's upset me is that at the beginning of each season they say wheelchair users will be parked by the nice lift, then after one crossing they change their minds and say it's too difficult. It actually makes all the adaptations they have done a bit pointless if wheelchair users just give up and go elsewhere and it's clearly not impossible to park us by the nice lift because they have done it once.
    Bottom line is that they're putting the convenience of their crew above safety. Sooner or later someone is going to get the turn at the top of the stairs a bit wrong or the ship will move at just the wrong moment and someone will end up at the bottom of a very steep staircase, and if that's me a fracture or two are likely to be the least of my problems.

  4. #4
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Brittanys' own website states:
    If you need to be parked close to a lift, it is essential that you tell us when making your booking and again at ticket check-in. The limited spaces for wheelchair passengers close to the lifts are only allocated to passengers with a disability on a first come first served basis, at the time of booking. The loading crew will do their best to help you negotiate the busy garage and make your way to the lifts;
    http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/in...led-passengers

    So as I highlighted there you should be allocated a space close to the lift if you request one when you book.

    If you are informing them of your needs both at booking and check-in and your needs are still routinely ignored, and especially if you are allocated a space in advance and then parked elsewhere, then a complaint letter to a director at head office may be in order.

    Head office may not be aware of what the parking crew are actually doing unless/until someone complains.
    Last edited by nukecad; 06-15-2017 at 11:07 AM.
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