This is the story of the day we disembarked our cruise ship, Celebrity Solstice, at our very last stop, Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. I really didn’t want to post anything disappointing or sad in regards to the cruise, because it truly was an amazing experience. Even though this has got nothing to do with the cruise per se, this is my attempt at making you aware at the things that can happen due to a person’s greed.
By the time we had docked in Victoria, it was already 5pm meaning that most tourist attractions had closed. Initially we had suspected that these would remain open, as the whole city would be aware of the tourists coming in via cruise ships. The disembarkation process was quite smooth and the customs officials were already given our information, which meant we could simply ‘walk’ into Canada. In Victoria you can go explore the Butchart Gardens, the castle, do a 40-minute water-front walk or explore the city on a shuttle bus. Butchart Gardens is open till late and this should definitely be on your top spots to check out when in Victoria.
As you exit Customs, you will see various shuttle buses, as well as directions for the water-front tour and a taxi conductor guiding you to your taxi depending on how many passengers in your party. Whilst a queue forms for the taxis, as all the passengers want to quickly get a glimpse of Victoria, before getting back on board, the impatient taxi drivers come up to you and enquire how many passengers are there in your party. If your party has enough passengers to fit their car, they’ll immediately pull you out of the queue and take you with them. This happened to us.
As you form a queue or for that matter head towards the taxi conductor you’ll notice a board that advises of the tariff to the various ‘hotspots’ that tourists like to go to from the port. We were interested in Butchart Gardens and the castle. The tariff for these places as per the board were $55 for the Gardens and $15 for the castle – one way. We sat in the taxi and wanted to confirm this tariff with our driver. He used the same numbers as per the board. Naturally, we didn’t keep an eye on the meter as we assumed he would charge us $55 to go there and $55 to come back. We decided against the castle as it had already closed by that time.
We arrive at Butchart Gardens after a 30-minute drive. I glance over to the meter and see that it has cost us $60, but I don’t mention it to any one as we were assured our tariff would be $55. We are given instructions by our driver, “There is no charge for 1-hour waiting time, but after that there will be a charge. Usually people see this place within an hour.” We just nod and like good students taking in every command of the teacher, we head towards the gardens. We walk into the gardens and what a sight! Beautiful flowers planted everywhere. It seems like a picture every step of the way would not be enough to capture all the colours. But wait, we cannot enjoy the flowers for as long as we like, we have a deadline to meet as the principal awaited our arrival back at his cab.
Regardless of how tired we were, we pushed through the vast garden. Took quick photos without even checking how they turned out and made our way back to our cab. I wish there was a prize to be won as we made it back to our cab with time to spare and thus made our way back to the port. The drive back to the port seemed longer. Our cab driver checked with us again to see if we were interested in making our way to the Castle, which was closed, and see it from the outside. For the umpteenth time we’d said no. He drops us off at the port and to our surprise charges us $135. That shouldn’t have been the case as we were reassured that our tariff would have cost us $55 for both directions.
We felt cheated. First of all we expected the tariff to be $110 CAD. Second of all he charges us $135CAD and willingly takes $135USD (which at the time converted to $175CAD). We’d paid $140USD and he returned $5CAD. I don’t suppose a lot of onboard tourists come prepared with Canadian dollars when on such cruises. It is something that is easily forgotten. At the same time tourists don’t always want to pay with cards for small payments. But after this experience I feel, some of these taxi drivers to earn an extra buck manipulate such situations.
So if you happen to be boarding this cruise or visiting Victoria, beware of Sutlej Taxi, taxi number JJ9047. I don’t want your fun and relaxing holiday to end on a sour note. Under no circumstance did I want my first blog related to this trip to be something sad. However as per my plan and when I started typing this blog, I was going to wait till I had uploaded videos related to this city so I could use them within the blog. However by the time that would have happened it would be next year and the momentum would have been lost. Instead I decided to share it now.
Have you experienced something similar? Share them in the comments below.
Until next time,