This was to be a "Bucket-List" trip of a life-time; travelling on a super luxury ship, first time visit to the USA and visiting and viewing the sights of New York.
My wife and I travelled on the Queen Mary 2 on the 5th of November 2016 from Southampton to New York and arrived back in Southampton on November the 19th 2016.
Our voyage number was M625B and our booking reference was XGDM5V. My World club number is RW72110G Gold and my wife’s number is RW72109G Gold.
When booking our voyage I clearly informed Cunard of my
mobility problems. Shore excursions in New York were not bookable in advance of sailing and I took the first available opportunity to attempt book a shore excursion on board. The excursion that we tried to book would enable me to remain on a coach as we took in many of the sights that make New York so famous. I would have been able to board the coach without assistance and the loan of a wheelchair was offered by the excursion team.
My wife is over seventy and would not have been able to push me on and off the ship so independent assistance to and from the coach would be needed.
We wanted to see as much of New York as possible during the short time in the port and the tour office offered a coach tour around the city with the option of staying on the coach. I then told the tour office I would need wheel chair assistance from the ship to the coach and back. The tour office said they did not have the ability to call on such a resource. We then approached the pursers staff and explained the problem and received nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders. I told the pursers staff that I considered that I was being discriminated against because of my disablement and again received a shrug of the shoulders. Consequently, I was unable to see New York.
This has been our first trip on the Queen Mary 2 and our first visit to the USA so you can imagine the disappointment generated. This disappointment was increased when I was informed that I would have to leave the ship to comply with US customs and immigration regulations and that wheel chair assistance would be given. Wheel chair assistance could be given to comply with US regulations but not to enable a disabled passenger to leave the ship for a tour.
I wrote to the captain, Captain Christopher Wells, who I have sailed with previously, and received a reply from his secretary, Mercy Leonen. My concerns were noted and were forwarded to the customer services manager, Heiko Lorenz. He sympathised with my complaint but maintained that there was nothing he could do.
I can find no mention on any pre-voyage information that assistance on and off the ship for a shore excursion would not be available for disabled passengers. Indeed much information was given on the marvellous sights and places of interest that a passenger must see when in New York. The whole purpose of this voyage was to see and appreciate New York and travel on a wonderful liner. I would not have booked this voyage if I had known that I would not have been able to get off the ship.
Surely the whole point of the discrimination regulations is to ensure that all businesses dealing with disabled people make sure that the disabled are able to enjoy the same
access as non-disabled. This is not when it is convenient to the company but at all times. If this means the company has to employ staff to assist the disabled on and off the ship then so be it. By not providing such assistance I was discriminated against.
Cunard have been adamant that I have not been discriminated against but have offered me £200 off the next Cunard cruise that I take!