Dear Sir, I live in an apartment immediately overlooking the Road Bridge that crosses the Paseo Maritimo and leads on to the Ferry Terminal. From my terrace I have a perfect view of the people arriving in our fair city by sea – it is sometimes a disturbing sight! At this time of the year, in addition to the normal ferries bringing visitors from Barcelona, Valencia, Sete, etc; we have cruise liners arriving almost daily from all over Europe and the world. The main difference (to us “Palma–ites”) is that the majority of the ferry passengers arrive in their own transport and quickly disperse to other parts of the island while all of those on the liners (less those going on organised coach tours) arrive on foot and spend the day in Palma. The number of liners calling here varies between two and six on any particular day. They, plus the ferries, produce anything from 300 to 3'000 tourists, a large number of which will be first time visitors not only to Palma but to Majorca. In addition to that, these particular tourists are here for an average of six hours only before they sail off to other Mediterranean cities, similar to ours, where those responsible for attracting and hosting them must surely take their duties and responsibilities more seriously than do ours. They – that is The Port Authority, The Bus Company (EMT), The Minister for Tourism and last, but not least, The Palma City Council (who are culpable in most departments) – should be ashamed of themselves for the disgraceful manner in which they discharge their responsibilities to these valuable visitors to our city and island. Also not to be excluded from these criticisms are The Cruise Lines (as represented by their Ships Captains and Pursers). Today there are three cruise liners in port: 1. Costa Victoria– berthed at Estacion No 1 2. Monterey – berthed at Estacion No 2 3. Oceana – berthed at Estacion No 5 Note: Estacions 1 and 2 are at the normal ferry terminal. Estacion No 5 is at the extension grafted onto the harbour wall and accessed via the “Porto Pi” roundabout. Passengers from all three liners face different problems on disembarking:
1. Costa Victoria – have to walk from the ship to the main gate through commercial traffic (container lorries, forklift trucks servicing the “Roll on/Roll off” ferries). Having passed through the gates they find the pavement on the R/H side (there is only the one) this leads straight ahead to the Paseo Maritimo which most follow. What they don't see is the No1 bus stop outside of the Estacion Building that is on their immediate left. Why? Because it is only a 30mm diameter tin plate with the letter “B” on it that is nailed onto a post. The plate faces the estacion entrance. Only the (plain) reverse can be seen from the pavement. On reaching the bridge the pavement halves in width and converts to steps leading down, through a car park, to the “wrong” side of the Paseo. For those wishing to walk to the city it is a compulsory obstacle course for pensioners, invalids and those families with infant children. Note: Pedestrians walking to Palma are not meant to cross the bridge. They should obey the Traffic Sign situated on the pavement just before the bridge that indicates “Andratx” as being straight ahead and “ciudad centro” as the road on the left. Visitors could be forgiven if they did not understand either of these place names even if they thought the road sign applied to them. There is no “Pedestrian Crossing” or sign of any kind that would take them from where they are to the correct side of the road for Palma. For those not wishing to walk to Palma, preferring the delights of the Porto Pi Shopping Centre, their path is arguably the more hazardous, for having reached the end of the bridge they must turn left. This necessitates crossing a road that is, a) very busy, b) on a sharp bend, c) has six lanes (To/From Avda Joan Miro – To/From the Port and To/From the Paseo) without any help at all e.g. Pedestrian Crossing, Traffic Lights or “Stop” road signs. A death or serious injury is inevitable if something is not done at this obvious “Black spot”.
2. Monterey – Exit the ship along the overhead walkway to the Estacion (excellent). Met by a phalanx of taxis that fills the road and obscures the pathetic bus sign previously described and sited some 15 metres away. Those that do find it can easily be spotted. They are the one's peering upwards trying to read the printed timetable (20mm x 20mm) that is nailed to the post some 2 metres-plus from the ground. Most wander off through the Port Authority's ORA regulated car park to the Paseo where they are frequently seen doing the “Chicken Run” across the six lanes of traffic. No signs of any description exist to aid these visitors! All who visit the Porto Pi Centre (or return from Palma on the No 3 bus and alight there), when walking back to their ships face another and truly disgusting and disgraceful hazard in the shape of the steps that lead from Calle Porto Pi down to the Paseo. These steps are: l Never cleaned – the steps have broken glass, fast food refuse, rotting leaves and branches, old newspapers and “Flyers”, rotting fruit and fruit peel plus plastic bottles and “coke” tins that have been allowed to accumulate for months. l Used as urinals – routinely by the “Disco” crowd. The stench is palpable, permanent and inescapable. l Dangerous – the steps are broken, some handrails are rusted through, palm fronds hang to within a metre of the ground and lighting is inadequate to say the least.
3. Oceana – Passengers on liners mooring at Estacion No 5 face the worst reception of all. The reason for liners being there at all is a temporary measure pending completion of the plan to moor them opposite the Cathedral – a laudable aim. But in the meantime? Nothing! Nothing at all by anyone or any organisation remotely associated with the wellbeing or safety of visitors arriving on this island by sea and disembarking at Estacion No 5 has been put in place. This is a disgrace and “Heads should roll” as: a. Passengers disembark directly on to the Container Terminal operated by the Alcudia Company. This is an extremely dangerous area for people not authorised to be there. Containers are being offloaded from and loaded on to the company ship continuously by giant forklift trucks. Containers are stacked three high throughout the compound. For anyone unused to such an environment to be wandering unchallenged among the stacks looking for the way out is nothing short of criminal negligence on the part of the Ships Officers and the Port Authority. Yet that is what I have seen on previous occasions. Where do they want to go? Nowhere in particular. Just a walk.
Do they know where they were? No.
Have they been given a map when they left the ship? No.
Do they know about the bus at the gate? No.
Have they been given any information before leaving the ship? No. b. There are no direction signs to guide passengers safely to the dock gates. c. The bus stop is sited to the side of the 'in' gate. It cannot be seen when leaving via the 'out' gate using the pavement.
I have attempted to highlight the problems facing tourists visiting Palma by sea and have criticised those I believe responsible. May I now make what I hope are constructive suggestions to rectify them?
Site an “Information Office” at both dock gates. These to be opened and staffed on a “As Required” basis. Information available to include train and bus routes from the respective Palma stations. Maps of Palma must include the docks and show, clearly, the No 1 bus route.
The Port Authority:
Liaise with the EMT to extend the No 1 Bus Route to include the Cruise Liners docking at Estacion No5. Picking up and setting down passengers at ships gangways or the Terminal Building instead of at the dock gates would eliminate most dangers. l Clearly sign the route foot passengers should take to get from your terminal building to the Paseo Maritimo.
EMT l Resite the terminus stop at the gate to Estacion No 5 from its present location to the pavement just outside the “Out” gate. l Refurbish the bus stop at the Ferry Terminal.
A large board showing a diagram of the No 1 Route, including the Plaza Espana and both Rail and Bus Stations, is required plus fares and times.
Pocket–sized leaflets giving the same information should be available on the buses.
PALMA COUNCIL l Produce urgently a city map that includes the docks. Have them delivered to all Cruise Ships as they dock for distribution to passengers intending to visit Palma. l Have a Pedestrian Crossing installed allowing people to cross the road from the pavement leading from the Ferry Station to the pavement passing the entrance to the Club de Mar and on to the Paseo Maritimo. The crossing to be clearly signed “To the City” l Produce and erect signs showing the Paseo Maritimo route to the city from the docks. The Porto Pi Shopping Centre and the Cathedral should be clearly indicated. l Clean up and repair the steps leading down from C/Porto Pi. l Ensure that the Paseo Maritimo is cleaned by 10am daily. This is particularly important on Saturday, Sunday and Monday mornings as the bars and discos only clear after 7am. l Change the “Give Way” signs to “Stop” at the road junction joining C/Porto Pi to the bridge. l Join up the pavements leading from the Porto Pi Centre to the Ferry Terminal, using the road bridge.
Remind your Ships Captains that the welfare of their passengers includes warning them of known dangers when disembarking in Palma while reorganisation and modernisation is in progress. If we want first time visitors to become regulars we must stop being complacent. There are other cities in the Med that will happily take our tourists away from us so wake up!
Yours faithfully Roy Cowen