Two friends visiting Montreal from New York City wanted to see the Old Port from the water. We found Le Bateau-Mouche online, and booked four tickets in advance on the phone. When I spoke to the representative, I explained that one of us was 80 years old, and would not be able to walk far. She assured me that if we called from the Old Port parking lot, they would send a car to pick us up and take us to the pier where the boat would leave.
We arrived, phoned, and the woman we spoke to said she didn't know what we were talking about, and they could not send a car. She said they would have to ask "the captain" for permission, but he was out on a tour. When we explained that this had been arranged in advance and we had reserved the tickets in good faith that we would be provided this assistance, she said that "the office" was not authorized to make such arrangements. With no other options, we began the 500-meter walk to the pier, which included a steep gangplank. Our 80-year old friend had had an injury at age 20 which makes walking painful. The journey was terrible. We even stopped a security agent driving by in a golf cart and asked for assistance; they declined even though it was clear our friend was in pain.
We got to the kiosk where we were supposed to pick up our tickets at last. The boat was boarding and the captain was taking tickets. We asked him to allow our friend on board while one of us got the tickets. The captain refused even though it was obvious our friend was very tired. While one of us rushed to get the tickets, another one of us asked the captain why we had been promised assistance from the parking lot to the pier if none was actually available. He very discourteously told us it was not his problem.
Finally, we decided we could not pay for rudeness and obvious ageism. We demanded our money back and told the staff exactly what we thought of their unethical behaviour. In general, we found our experience of the Old Port of Montreal very negative in terms of how little seating and shade there is. Obviously the only people Montreal wants to welcome to the Old Port are people who like to walk, rollerblade, or cycle. People with limited mobility, even if they have a wheelchair or cane, will find great difficulty in making their way around this "tourist" site. But above all, if you or any of your party have trouble walking, do not believe anything Bateau Mouche tells you about their services. They are lying to get your money, and hoping that you will just put up with the problems you encounter.
In the end we chose to take a cruise with a smaller boat nearby. The staff were very courteous and assisted our friend getting on and off the boat. Don't waste your time or money on Bateau Mouche - this is a terrible company in every way.
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