/ Travel & Leisure

Brief cases: couple wins £1,162 in cruise confusion

Cruise Ship

Which? members John and Eileen Andrews won back £1,162 with help from our legal experts when their 14-night cruise was cancelled without their knowledge.

John and Eileen booked a £3,912 Scandinavian and Russian cruise, including an unlimited drinks package worth £768, with Thomas Cook.

They paid a £300 deposit to Thomas Cook and were sent a booking confirmation by cruise operator, RCL Cruises Limited, which said the balance was due eight weeks before the May 2013 departure. Thomas Cook said it was due 17 weeks before and sent a reminder, but the couple relied on RCL’s booking confirmation as it was in line with other cruises they’d been on.

John and Eileen Andrews

John went to pay the balance on March 21 and found that Thomas Cook had cancelled the booking two days earlier. It had tried to call them but left no message, and it also didn’t email or write to say what it was going to do. John and Eileen contacted RCL, which refused to reinstate the holiday, claiming the contract was between the couple and Thomas Cook. It let them rebook, but without the drinks package.

The couple went on the holiday, and complained to RCL and Thomas Cook when they got back. RCL offered £400 in vouchers for a cruise, which they rejected. Thomas Cook didn’t respond.

Our advice on cruise problems

We advised John and Eileen that their contract was with RCL, not Thomas Cook. They wrote to both saying they intended to make a claim in the county court. RCL said Thomas Cook was at fault, and Thomas Cook failed to respond. The couple claimed for the loss of the drinks package and drinks bought on the cruise. RCL said its conditions were valid and Thomas Cook cancelled the cruise in error.

Thomas Cook offered to settle for £1,162 and no further action was taken against RCL.

What the law says…

Thomas Cook had no right to demand payment outside the conditions of the RCL contract. By cancelling, it breached an implied term in the holiday booking contract. Under The Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 a service must be provided with reasonable care and skill.

It also breached Abta’s code of conduct by failing to respond to the couple. Abta members must acknowledge complaints in 14 days and send a detailed reply, or explain why there’s a delay, within 28 days. See

Have you ever had a problem cruise? How did you resolve the issue?


I agree that Thomas Cook behaved badly here. However, just for clarity:
– if the booking was made with Thomas Cook, and the deposit was paid to Thomas Cook, why was the contract not with Thomas Cook?
– given the disparity between the final payment dates, would it not have been wise to have resolved that by checking with Thomas Cook, presuming that the final payment was to be also made to Thomas Cook?

Hi Malcolm, I reached out to our Which? Legal team:

The contract was with RCL and Thomas Cook acted as agents for RCL. That means the booking conditions were RCLs1.The contract was with RCL, Thomas Cook had acted as agents for RCL. Yes it may have been sensible for Mr and Mrs Andrews to have checked if they were aware of the disparity in the final payment dates.

Thanks Patrick

10 September 2014

CAN YOU INFLUENCE CRUISE COMPANIES TO LOWER THEIR SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS? THERE ARE TIMES WHEN THE SINGLE SUPPLEMENT IS ALMOST 100%. I appreciate that there is only one person using the bars; 1 person using the shops; 1 person buying tours. On the other hand there is only one person’s meals; one person’s occupancy of a cabin that needs servicing, so why such hefty supplements.

Lynne T. says:
20 September 2014

I agree. I recently received several brochures from Riviera Travel, prominently displaying the Which badge as a recommended provider 2014. When I looked at the river cruises the single supplement was double the price, minus around £150-$170. Needless to say, the brochures went straight into the recycling bin.

How can Which? recommend companies that basically rob single travelers? If ‘they all do it’ then don’t recommend ANY of them, and tell them why.

Which? my trust in you (subscriber for almost 10 years) is faltering…

It seems ludicrous when you consider single people are granted a 25% council tax discount for single home occupancy by local councils and yet it is the opposite case when a single person feels the need for a holiday break. Travel firms will argue that single people sometimes have to be allocated double occupancy rooms in hotels when there are no single rooms available but this shouldn’t be the case with cruising because single cabins are available at pre booking stage. Trouble is, as with Lynne T many singles miss out on a very much needed break because of this discrimination.

Lynne T. says:
20 September 2014

Beryl, great point about discounts in some places, excess charges in others. It is ludicrous, I agree.

Riviera do have a cruise I’d love to take, but I’ll give it a miss. Nor will I go with a friend – some are single, some not but we agree we won’t give our custom to companies that exhibit that level of greed.

So I’ll be telling Riviera why they won’t get bookings from me or anyone else I can influence 😉 and I’ll be protesting with Which? about their endorsement of Riviera.