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Silver Spirit, where every suite has a balcony, visiting Phuket soon

Cruise Liners to Test Phuket's Taxis, Tuk-Tuks

Tuesday, March 22, 2011
THE IMPRESSIVE cruise liner Queen Mary 2 is due to dock off Phuket on Sunday, enhancing the backdrop in snapshots of people who can only dream what a voyage must be like on the vessel that has been described as the world's most luxurious liner.

Making its first stop off Phuket a little later, on April 6, is another equally notable vessel, Silversea Cruises' new flagship, Silver Spirit.

While the QM2 is reported to have space for 3056 guests and 1253 crew, the Silver Spirit is built to carry 540 guests and a crew of 376.

Silver Spirirt visited Hong Kong for the first time on Monday at the halfway stage of her inaugural 119-day world cruise, which began in Los Angeles.

With a guest-to-crew ratio of 1.4 to 1, Silver Spirit passengers also enjoy one of the highest space ratios at sea with 6700 cubic feet per guest.

According to a media release, the Art Deco-inspired Silver Spirit ''sets new standards in luxury cruising and guests onboard will enjoy an unmatched level of pampering and personalised service.''

Guests can enjoy a butler assigned to every suite; complimentary beverages, wines and spirits served throughout the ship; 24-hour room service; stocked in-suite beverage cabinet, ''and all gratuities.''

After Hong Kong the Silver Spirit sails on to Vietnam then visits Bangkok (March 30-April 1) and Samui (April 1); Singapore (April 3); Malaysia (April 4-5); and Phuket on April 6 followed by Sri Lanka, India, Oman, Egypt, Greece, Italy, Monaco, Spain, Portugal and the Channel Islands.

One aspect of interest will be the reaction of passengers to Phuket's pointedly expensive tuk-tuks and taxis.

This time last year, Phuketwan was sent email correspondence between a cruise company management and a Phuket restaurant, which ends with the cruise management expressing the intent to complain directly to Phuket's governor.

Here we republish the edited exchanges that first appeared on Phuketwan on March 14 last year:

From the cruise line: ''We were happy to promote your lovely restaurant and we did get a few good comments from a few guests who visited your venue. We would have liked to send you more people, but unfortunately the taxi situation in the Phuket Port is terrible.
The local drivers who were in the port all work together with the same attitude and that is to totally rip-off tourists. These drivers were not pleasant to deal with at all, and for the next visit we are suggesting that the ship anchors off Patong Beach instead of docking in the Phuket Port.''

From the restaurant: ''Yes we all know the taxi driver situation in Phuket is horrific. Those same drivers will probably be the same ones in Patong, too, but at least from Patong it is not such a long drive and people can also opt for not going anywhere. Unfortunately we don't have a pick up service, either.''

From the cruise line, intended for the governor: ''Following our vessel's recent visit to Phuket, we would like to bring to your attention the extreme challenges faced in the Phuket Port with regard to taxis. The drivers on standby in the port quoted ridiculous fares from the start and it was clear that they were aiming to really extort money from our Residents, Guests and Crew.
We were informed that the drivers are part of the local community and are the only taxi vehicles allowed to pick-up from this area and that the port has no control over this. After we spoke with our Thai crew members on the ship about the proper rates that should be charged, we then attempted to negotiate more decent rates.
At one point the situation became quite unbearable and some of the drivers became verbally abusive when it was mentioned that their rates were ridiculous and way too high for us to consider.
It came down to the fact that the drivers refused to even consider to take the business if their rate wasn't paid and they simply preferred to sit down and wait for another hopeful customer whom they could overcharge, even after they were warned that we would not give them any further business.
From this point onwards, the front office team recommended private transfers to be booked through the contracted tour company and no further taxi bookings were made.
Thank you for your time and we trust that this situation will be looked into further as it is totally unacceptable and extremely bad for tourism.''

An initial complaint by the cruise line company to the Tourism Authority of Thailand brought no response.

A representative from the restaurant asked the cruise line whether the email exchange could be passed on to Phuketwan, and the cruise line manager agreed.

One year on, Phuketwan will be keen to see whether the QM2 and the Silver Spirit dock at Phuket's deep sea port or in Patong Bay, and whether the tuk-tuks and taxi drivers have improved their attitude over the past 12 months.

Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Now here is a golden opportunity for a bit of positive PR work by the tuk tuks and taxis. The Governor should be all over this to ensure that the guests are treated well and fairly.

Posted by Soupdragon on March 22, 2011 12:36

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They sure will want the creme not the afters. I can see them blocking the wharf again like they did to the American navy. Now they should be told "you cause trouble for us with your tactics and we will start locking you up and confiscate your taxi,'' before the cruise liners even get near send the message out now so there is no confusion.

Posted by william Dale on March 22, 2011 14:09

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The cruise ships visiting Phuket, should contract with a local van/bus service and have scheduled runs to/from port to a few designated sites (Patong,Kata, Phuket city, Central/Festival, etc.) From there they can contract for the less exorbitant fees to the location of their choice.

Posted by David Rucker on March 22, 2011 14:32

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@ Soupdragon & william: hahahahahhhahahahaahahah! Good one - You poor misguided fools!

Posted by dan on March 22, 2011 14:32

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The passengers can afford to go on a very expensive cruise, but they cannot afford to pay for the tuk-tuks?

Posted by Anonymous on March 22, 2011 14:57

Editor Comment:

Do you think people become well-off by being ripped off?

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Soupdragon, tell me why they should have another chance??? they keep doing all the wrong things. just don't use them

Posted by southbound on March 22, 2011 18:08

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The governor obviously doesnt care at all about this problem, which is ridiculously easy to solve.
- ban the so called private limousines that are actually rolling rip off machines
- make taxi-meter widely available (why can't you pick them only at the airport?)
- publish fixed and decent rates for tuk tuks

(moderated)

Posted by Adrien on March 22, 2011 18:32

Editor Comment:

Adrien, the present governor is not the governor who was in charge a year ago.

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it will be interesting to see any postings on the net by passengers once they get home. glowing reports or slams?

Posted by mikey on March 22, 2011 22:28

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One reason I will never return to Phuket is because of the taxi ripoffs. They make a nice time unpleasant. Charged me 250 baht to drive around the block. We only accepted because we were transferring hotels and had luggage.

Posted by Floyd on March 23, 2011 05:55

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@dan and Southbound. There is no tongue in cheek smiley. I don't for a second think the tuk tuks and taxis will not try to exploit this event.

My car is in for repair and I have been forced onto public transport for 10 days now. It is a very unpleasant experience. Rather than adhering to the maximums set by the Governor this is now the minimum they will move for. Every time they quote stupid prices and when I counter with an offer their tone is aggressive and only then do they pull out the lamenated price list, saying this is the minimum price they can accept.

Posted by Soupdragon on March 23, 2011 07:10

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@ Mikey You said "it will be interesting to see any postings on the net by passengers once they get home. glowing reports or slams?"

Have you stopped taking your medication?

Under what possible scenario given all recent history, are there likely to be "glowing reports". The most likely outcome is a "never again" report.

Posted by dan on March 23, 2011 08:28

Editor Comment:

Dan, why not just wait to see? What you think is likely and what really happens could be totally different. When people constantly assume the worst, that's what usually happens. No point in guesswork.

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Ed - I wasn't talking to you, but since you're here, then yes let's all assume the best, and perhaps all the rip-off merchants will go away, or whatever.......

Posted by dan on March 23, 2011 09:31

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Just a thought since I do not use tuk tuks, and never will, about the laminated price list for maximum fares. Does this card state "maximum fares" anywhere on it? Is the card supposed to be visible to the public at all times?

A solution would be to require all tuk tuks to have the laminated price list securely attached to the outside of the vehicle so people could then see the rate.

Posted by Lee on March 23, 2011 09:56

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Editor Comment:

Dan, why not just wait to see? What you think is likely and what really happens could be totally different. When people constantly assume the worst, that's what usually happens. No point in guesswork.

Wow ED you've definately lost the plot huh..You really believe that if everyone assumes that the local transport crew wont do the "normal rip off" then they will suddenly do the right thing..hahahahahah April the first is nine days away..But good on you for believing in the power of positive thought.

Posted by davidj on March 23, 2011 10:21

Editor Comment:

I don't have a viewpoint, davidj, other than knowing for certain that both foolish predictions and sneering cynicism always fail dismally.

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David Rucker,

You obviously have not been here too long. Sure it seems like a simple solution however when the US NAVY tried this, the service men ended up loosing hours of their leave while the tuk tuks blocked the local van/bus service.

In the end, who do you think won? Only the high ranking official were allowed to take the Vans.

So it looks like even against the US Navy, who do come here and even do community service, the tuk tuks win.

Really amazing.

Posted by VFaye on March 23, 2011 11:51

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@ VFaye, Mr. Rucker has been here a bit longer than you think, but you are correct with that event that you describe, but you fail to realise what happened after the ships departed. The Governor/Vice Governor was paid a visit by the US Embassy (a group that is part of the Embassy), and they stated that if that happens again (the tuk tuk blockade and other results) the Navy would not be back. After that tuk tuk event, do you remember there were no ships in for about 3 months? I know why, it is not hard to figure out. If it happens (the tuk tuk blockade) during this visit, Phuket will miss a lot of further visits, that is for sure and fact.

Posted by Lee on March 23, 2011 12:52

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@Lee - why not just wait to see? What you think is likely and what really happens could be totally different. When people constantly assume the worst, that's what usually happens. No point in guesswork.

Posted by dan on March 23, 2011 13:37

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@David Rucker et al: The Navy ships visiting Guam and Saipan have Navy guys rent a van and use a cellphone to do door-to-door pickups, no cabs needed at all. It works great there... but those spots don't have an outta control tuktuk m****. Likewise, hotels, shows, tour operators, even restaurants in Guam, Saipan, Hawaii, etc. have their own vans to transport tourists - but running them here would mean breaking through tuktuk barriers. Even a bus service after dark in some towns or between Kata & Patong any time of day are impossible until the tuktuk m**** is tamed. Maybe we need armed police on targeted buslines, and sting operations for tuktuks blocking vans? We could start by vastly reducing the number of tuktuk licenses issued, thus increasing tuktuks' customer-to-driver ratio and reducing the size of the tuktuk m**** army.

Posted by Tired of The Act on March 24, 2011 17:06

Editor Comment:

Who is ''we,'' Tired of the Act? You, and the majority of Thais who live on Phuket? Oh, good. Otherwise, as anyone in the armed services of the US or Thailand will tell you, conflict is always a last resort. Even if you volunteered under your real name to drive a bus, the merits of your plan would not be seen by local parents looking for a safe ride for their children to school, or anyone else for that matter.
By the way, the tuk-tuk drivers say that comparison with the mafia - an organisation that dealt in murder and torture - are unjustified and unhelpful. And they're right.

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how does the government allow all this unlawfulness? have they no control or does the jingle of cash blind them?

Posted by buz on March 31, 2011 03:12


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