We had our 30th wedding anniversary party on Saturday, July 26 on the Magic Moment, charter boat.
My husband and I were and still are dismayed at the level of incompetence displayed by Magic Charters and the crew.
After booking the Magic Moment through our caterers, we signed the contract booking the Magic Moment and paid a deposit on May 7, 2014. I contacted Magic Charters on June 5, 2014 to confirm our booking for July 26, 2014 as well as for information where exactly the Moment would be docking, information I needed to send out our invitations. On June 5, I received an email confirming the wrong date (July 30) as well as a different boat (Hornblower). After advising Magic Charters that this was not what we signed and paid for, we received an email, apologizing that there had been 2 clients with the same name however, while we were confirmed now for the right day and boat, we still had no idea where we would boarding. After several more emails we received confirmation of the location as well as a request of changing our times, 7:30 pm boarding instead of 6:30 pm. As we had several young children as well as some older folks on the guest list, I called Magic Charters and asked if the cruise could be cut short and if we could come back in at 11:30 pm instead of 12 midnight.
On July, 2013, Magic Charters emailed and offered us the original times back but at a different dock. As we had by now sent our invitation, we declined. Verbally, we were told that as there was going to be another boat ahead of us, disembarking may not be as discussed at 11:30 pm. I took this under advice and arranged transportation accordingly, between 11:45 pm and midnight.
Due to traffic on firework nights, we arrived early at 1601 Bayshore, the dock advised by Magic Charter. The Magic Charm was docked and had started to board. Around 7:20 pm, my husband became concerned of not seeing the Moment as well seeing that the Charm was nowhere near ready to leave. He went down to the Charm and asked a crew member if he knew where the Moment was. My husband was advised that the Moment was docked at the other marina on 405 Denman Street, a couple of blocks away. A number of our guests had already arrived and we all walked over to the other marina, where we found another guest who had recognized personnel of our caterers boarding the Magic at this dock. While I was unhappy that I now had to call all guests still missing with the news that the boarding address on our invitation was wrong and that they should come the new boarding address, we were glad to have found the Moment. I also tried to call Magic Charter to confirm and voice my dismay at the mix-up, however, no one answered the phones nor did Magic Charter act when we tried texting.
While we and our guests were waiting in line behind others boarding different boats, we were accosted by a staff member of a different charter boat company who advised us that the Moment had left the docks to a, to him, unknown destination.
Thankfully, the guest who had recognized the catering personnel received a text from them, advising us that the Moment was now docked where we were to have been boarding it originally.
By now it was 7:45 pm, 15 minutes past our boarding time. When I arrived at the 1601 Bayshore dock, I saw that once again our guests were lined up and not allowed to board. When I got closer, one of my guests told me that apparently the crew had difficulties docking and anchoring the Moment. She also told me that it appeared that one crew member had showed up late and pointed to someone dealing with the ropes. Unfortunately, that someone was one of our guests. Apparently, the crew member trying to secure the boat was incapably of doing so alone and the other two crew members did not seem to think that it was their job.
We finally boarded at 8 pm, fully 30 minutes past the time given to us. The boarding process looked rather unsafe to me. We had to go onto an unsecured ramp.
We finally sailed. The only good news was that the captain did find a great spot for us to watch the fireworks.
My husband had asked crew members several times to turn on lights on the inside stairs (we fully understand why not on the outside stairs), however, it took several requests and then we realized that there were actually no lights on the stairs however, the captain had turned on lights on the roof, at least shining some light onto the stairs.
At 11:45 pm, we passed the floating Chevron station. I asked a crew member how much longer we had and was assured that they would have us “in no time” at the dock. I called dispatch for our transport and asked to let the driver know that we might be a little past midnight. Unfortunately, the crew member had not told me that the “in no time” dock was not the dock where we boarded and where our drivers were waiting but the dock a couple of blocks away.
Disembarking was another unsafe exercise. There was a rather steep step down from the inside of the boat to the lower “patio”. There was no light, no one could see how steep the step was and several guests almost fell. Thankfully, and I rather dislike saying thankfully, my oldest son is currently on crutches and in order not to have to navigate to narrow stairs, had spent most of the evening on said patio at the rear of the boat and was able to assist.
Needless to say, when we finally made to the meeting point with our driver, he had left as by now we were more than 30 minutes late. And no, none of our guests hung around. We all got off the Moment and immediately all of us turned to either where cars were parked, trying to catch cabs or as with my party, went to meet our driver.
Additionally, my sister-in-law told me that she had called Magic Charters on Friday, July 25, 2014 to get a better idea where to park. She had our party’s name; she had the right time and the boat’s name and was told to park at the casino. While she is not a Vancouverite, she knew the casino was nowhere near the Bayshore but was told by someone at Magic Charters that our party was leaving from somewhere near Science World, in good traffic times, 20 minutes away.
Our caterer called me today and advised that she had passed on our request for a special welcome drink. She had done so by email but when she had not heard from Magic Charters and time was running out, she called and was assured that the drink was available. She only found out Tuesday, July 29, that this was not the case but that her staff somehow made it possible anyway.
We have had many special occasions and staff parties on charter boats; we have never come up against this level of incompetence. At least, I almost hope it was incompetence as opposed to normal business practice.