I’ve been quiet on my blog again for a while – we’ve been moving, and as a result of the move have some advice to share with fellow animal lovers – If you’re thinking of travelling with dogs or cats between Lanzarote and Cadiz on the Acciona Trasmediterránia ferry – DON’T!
We thought long and hard when we decided to bring our dogs to mainland Spain from Lanzarote. We looked at every detail. Our dogs are part of the family, they are neither accessories, nor are they dumb animals. It’s like having three toddlers, and I personally work on the principle of ‘Would I put my kids through that’?
So rather than the expense of doping them up and transporting them by plane, we were thrilled to find out that the Arrecife to Cadiz ferry allowed pets, and at only €36 per dog was an incredible saving on the cost of flying them. Result! We thought so at the time anyway. On the strength of this we called the call centre and booked after being told…
“Yes, you can see the dogs any time you want”.
“Yes, if you want to stay with them you can”.
There was no ambiguity with the responses from the call centre – we could stay with our dogs. I didn’t mind how uncomfortable it would be for us, I just wanted to make sure it was as stress free for them as possible. They didn’t ask for the move – it’s something we wanted, why should they suffer?
So, the move time came and consisted of three trips. Two were to Cadiz and back for me with the car and our stuff. The third would be when I’d be returning to Cadiz with Elle and the dogs.
I hate boats, and I loathe boredom, so one 30 plus hour journey was more than enough for me, never mind having to do that three times. However doing the trip alone there and back would give me time to check out the facilities for animals. On the first trip I was horrified to find out that the kennels were below decks. They were filthy, and access was limited to very specific hours. These were…
08:00 – 09:00
15:00 – 16:00
20:00 – 21:00
Hardly what we’d been assured of by the helpful (English speaking) call centre.
I asked at the boat’s reception. “Not to worry”, they told me, if we wanted access we could use the outside kennels on the car deck. I checked it out, “God no”, I thought to myself. The outside ‘kennels’ were no more than a few, mostly broken, plastic travel crates, on frequently broken, wooden pallets. The Doors on all of the crates consisted of rusty wire. By this time I’m starting to worry, neither of these facilities were, in my opinion, even up to a standard suitable for transporting livestock, let alone members of my family!
I started to weigh up the pros and cons and decided that the only way we could bring the dogs on the ferry was to stay outside for the whole journey in one of the decks that allowed dogs. Both on the journey out, and the journey back, I asked a number of staff members, all of whom said (I’m paraphrasing) that if I was stupid enough to want to, I could stay outside, night and day, with the dogs for the duration of the journey. I picked out a few possible spots to settle and left the boat thinking – though not ideal – I’d worked out how we could stay with the dogs on our final trip.
The day came, we boarded the ferry, and were promptly accosted in the reception area and made to give them a €15 deposit for three locks for the kennels. Okay, maybe that’s their policy – maybe they have to allocate a kennel, used or not. We headed out to the dog walking deck and tied the boys to the railing and were pulling out some old bedding to make them comfortable, when we were approached by an officer.
He insisted that we take the dogs down to the (soon to be sealed) kennels. We were given no option, despite our protests that we would take them out to the car deck kennel area. He told us the dogs were too big, and again insisted that we go downstairs. With no option we did. We were being FORCED to lock our dogs up despite the various assurances we’d had from the call centre and various staff on my two previous trips. I felt sick. I knew what was coming – we went down and shut the dogs in. It was disgusting, it was dangerously hot and the fumes down there were terrible. Within moments I was dripping with sweat. You can only imagine what it would feel like especially for a large dog like Pepper, who by now was, without exaggeration seriously distraught and distressed. Billy and Guido were only slightly better than him. We couldn’t leave him like this, I knew it would mean he’d never be the same dog – it was proving that traumatic for him! I was close to tears (yes, really), I was also close to persuading Elle that they needed to be out, and if necessary we’d be insisting they remove us and our car from the ferry Rain Man style…
We were saved by a conversation with a German couple who also had large dogs – two of them. They were also not happy with the circumstances and were in the process of taking the dogs out to take to their car; we did the same and promptly went into hiding that night and the following one. Luckily our car was on the open deck so we were able to take this option – had it been locked in the lower decks I really do think we’d have been off that damned boat.
My whole point is that Acciona Trasmediterránia are misselling their product. Despite many assurances we were unable to stay with our dogs on the ship. We spent a lot of money with this company because of these assurances – only to find the reality very, very, different. As I said earlier would I put my kids in such conditions – no. Would I put my dogs in such conditions – no. I would not even put my worst enemy’s cat in this place. Acciona Trasmediterránia you should be ashamed of yourselves!
1. The facilities are appalling
2. You are not providing the service you are selling
Either, you are misrepresenting your product, or your staff are unaware of the claims you are making, or they are choosing not to apply whatever policies are in place to suit themselves.
I will NEVER use your company again. And, I will strongly recommend to any pet owner that considers their dogs or cats anything above the level of livestock, that they find alternate means of transport for their dogs and cats between Cadiz and the Canary Islands.
I’m disgusted, and my blood is still boiling!