/ Travel & Leisure

Brief cases: money back on a disappointing ‘dream’ holiday

Not every ‘holiday of a lifetime’ delivers on its promise. We helped a Which? member get their money back after a dream break fell flat.

A Which? Legal member and his wife booked a 24-night package holiday to Johannesburg, Victoria Falls and Cape Town, plus a cruise back to the UK, in November 2016. It cost £12,498.

The couple were left disappointed when they weren’t given time to explore Johannesburg as advertised.

A last-minute hotel change meant they missed the luxurious steam-train ride they were promised, and were given drinks and canapés instead of the advertised five-course meal.

When they contacted the company, it said the events had been beyond its control. However, it offered a £60 goodwill gesture for the difference in price between the five-course meal and the canapés, along with a £100 voucher off a future cruise.

The member then contacted Which? Legal for advice.

Why the company was liable

We advised that as they had booked a package holiday with the company, it was liable for its failure to provide what had been advertised in accordance with The Package Travel Regulations 1992.

As the couple had experienced loss of value and loss of enjoyment, they would be entitled to compensation. They had sent several letters to the company to no avail; ending up having to initiate court proceedings.

The company then settled the claim in full when it received the court papers, and the member received a cheque for £1,570.

Understanding the law

When booking a package holiday, the consumer will be afforded protection in accordance with The Package Travel Regulations 1992. Regulation 15 holds the organiser liable for the proper performance of the contract by its suppliers.

Damages for a ruined holiday can be difficult to calculate, but judges will regularly award compensation for distress and disappointment.

In 2010 the Court of Appeal in the case of Milner v Carnival Plc (trading as Cunard) set out a guide on the assessment of damages for distress and disappointment. The member had asked the company to reassess its compensation in line with this case.

Have you ever had a dream holiday fail to live up to expectations? Did you consider claiming compensation?


Why does Which? not name the company??. Does it deserve the protection of anonymity?

I think they do, but only in the magazine.

I imagine it was a cruising company.

The name of the member and his photo appear too, so there is no great secret about the case.

Yes, we were on a holiday to Madeira when the plane could not land there because of tropical storms. We were accommodated overnight on another island less affected by the weather and then returned to the UK. The travel operator compensated us satisfactorily with another holiday in Cyprus to the same standard as the one that was abandoned. The weather was also much better.

Glad to hear the compensation went smoothly, John. A relief that the weather was significantly better on the second attempt!

When I was younger we were caught in one of Florida’s hurricanes. We were in Orlando at the time but had plans to go to Tampa for the second week which had to be scrapped. We ended up staying in Orlando for the duration of the holiday but I’m not sure how expenses were covered (if at all), just that it all worked out! I’ll have to ask my parents what arrangements were made. I imagine things are quite different when it comes to natural disasters.

Natural disasters and weather events are normally covered in the small print. There are other force majeure matters which is why you have travel insurance.

There is an immediacy question as to how far removed can the incident be from the time you are effected. Also could the operator have made reasonable efforts to reduce the effects.

I have an outstanding case which when I have time to pursue involving Fred Olsen. The ship was delayed an extra day in Singapore for food and other supplies that were being shipped from Europe. The container ship was delayed by rough weather in the Atlantic.

Now rough weather in early spring the Atlantic is not news.
That container ships run tight schedules is not news.
That the ship would be delayed must have been apparent at least two days before docking.
Does Fred Olsen carry an insurance or have penalty clauses for late delivery? You might think so.

so what was done

Passengers were advised about 4-5 p.m. after staggering back after a second hard day being a tourist in a humid tropical country. Knocking yourself out to make the most of the last day ahead of a sea day.
Stop in the Andaman Islands was cancelled
A new group of speakers boarded in Singapore but rather than deliver the talks on the scheduled sea day that was now in a stay in port day nothing at all was arranged.
No refund for the missed island call
The weather on the third day was very murky and started with a lightning and thunder storm than ran for several hours. Being entertained by talks or a film would not have gone amiss.

Incidentally it was a good cruise in terms of place gone to but in the small ship arena FO’s entertainment side is not very good at all compared to CMV where they make decisions on-board and are flexible.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, what food had to be shipped from Europe that couldn’t be obtained in Singapore?

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Basically what food UK customers like to eat so Pringle’s , chocolates etc etc. Also consumables where local sourcing might be problematic. Not that it could not be obtained simply the administrative task of loading a few containers with everything the ship would require three months later is probably a no-brainer compared to multiple suppliers.

I am sure that whta Dl has added also makes good sense.

in 2016 my wife and I were on a SAGA holiday to Uzbekistan, along with some 33 other mainly elderly customers. The flights out and back were very poor, long flights in very vcramped conditions poor food and surly stewardesses. The first stop was in the far NW of the country (Khiva) wher the first breakfast was served open-buffet style with hundreds of flies. for the next ten days EVERY customer suffered vomiting and Diarrhoea with only evr 20-25 of the 35 even able toleave their rooms on the tour, and one lady hospitalised for 3 days in Bukhara. It was truly a nightmare holiday.
I completed the feedback response to SAGA (as did the others) but it was met with silence. I e-mailed subsequently asking what compensation would be made, but again no response.
The only action SAGA took was to re-advertise this trip (with an unchanged itinerary) as “an adventure holiday” (where “some Hardship”) might be experienced.
I have NEVER booked another SAGA holiday despite the usual deluge of brochures, and will not do so, and have shared this experience widely with friends. BEWARE SAGA HOLIDAYS !!!
Am I now too late to take legal action against SAGA for the loss of at least 2 days in full due to the illness suffered along with others and the discomfort throughout the wholetrip ??

As to whether it is too late I know not. What I strongly suggest to any group on holiday is that you always exchange contact details in case a claim has to be made. A trip to Petra was incredibly badly organised and bore only a slight resemblance to what had been booked 5 months earlier from the glossy brochure.

Many elderly people probably did not realise that before entering Petra there is a walk of over a kilometre that often is not mentioned. As for those who flew out from the UK the day before the very high temperatures were draining with several on the verge of collapse. They were ill-advised and ill-prepared with limited time to get around the site – and of course walk to it.