Couple disappointed at ‘disaster’ holiday failed compensation claim

Andy and Hilly Mills took Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd to court after their dream holiday turned into

Andy and Hilly Mills took Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd to court after their dream holiday turned into a 'disaster' Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

A couple have spoken of their disappointment at losing a court battle against a cruise company after their holiday of a lifetime turned into an “absolute disaster”.

Andy and Hilly Mills booked a 14-night wildlife spotting trip to Antarctica with Celebrity Cruises, setting off on board the boat "Infinity" from Buenos Aires, Argentina last January.

The Aldeburgh couple signed up to the £13,000 trip while visiting the London Boat Show in 2015, with Mrs Mills saying: "We were attracted to this cruise because we thought it would be a dream to go to see penguins in that part of the world.

"We thought it would be great and that we must do this - it's the cruise of a lifetime. We waited in excitement to go."

But five days before departure, the ship's 2,848 passengers were informed their journey would no longer stop at Puerto Madryn - where the couple were desperate to see the world's largest colony of Magellanic Penguin - due to mechanical issues.

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The boat's arrival at the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, was then delayed by more than seven hours - leaving much of the excursion to take place in darkness, before the ship was then battered by cyclone-type winds and forced to abandon a tendered stop at Port Stanley, on the Falkland Islands.

"It was the chance of a lifetime completely gone," Mrs Mills said.

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The couple took parent company Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd to Ipswich County Court, seeking £10,000 compensation for the disrupted journey and "extreme stress" brought on by the experience.

Mrs Mills said: "The case against Celebrity Cruises was that they had not provided the trip we had paid for because the ship had a broken engine. We went to see penguins and wildlife and saw not one penguin."

However district judge Simon Mitchell agreed that while the couple did not get the cruise they paid for, they were "stuck" with the terms and conditions.

He dismissed their claim earlier this month, saying anyone booking a holiday accepted the risk it might not turn out as hoped.

The company's lawyer, Asela Wijeyaratne, argued in court that the ship remained fully operational throughout - while guest services manager Lois Charters said the firm was under no obligation to offer any refund, because the cancellation and delay were both categorised in the terms and conditions as minor changes.

Mrs Mills said she was disappointed by the decision, believing she and her 88-year-old husband, who has Alzheimer's, had a strong case.

"It wasn't just the money for the cruise - we really wanted to go and see the penguins," she said.

"People ask us where the photos of the penguins are, and there weren't any."

A spokesman for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd said it did not have any further comment to make about the case.

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