Couple take Thomson to court over sewage stench on holiday
HOLIDAYMAKERS subjected to a constant stench of sewage during a £1,000 cruise are taking the tour operator to court.
Paul and Cynthia Holdcroft, from Tunstall, are among hundreds of disgruntled customers who are looking to take action against Thomson following a 'holiday from hell' on board one of the firm's cruise ships.
Lawyers representing Mr and Mrs Holdcroft, along with the other 205 holidaymakers, have taken the case to the Royal Courts of Justice.
The complaints are centred around the Thomson Dream break between May and October 2010.
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Passengers claim toilets were blocked and overflowing, food was undercooked and reused, and air conditioning units were often broken. A number also claim they have been ill as a result of the trip.
Mr and Mrs Holdcroft paid £1,006 for the one-week trip in May.
The couple, who have been together for 44 years flew to Spain where they boarded the ship for a cruise around the Mediterranean.
Retired school administrator Cynthia, aged 62, said: "When we arrived and were walking on to the ship I could smell sewage and I did ask a member of staff but we were told it was just because we were in dock and that it would go once we set sail.
"On one particular stairwell you had to hold your nose as you went down there because the smell was so bad."
While the couple did not suffer any illnesses as a result of the trip, they say the cruise was a complete disaster. Paul, aged 65, a retired HGV driver, said: "It has been the worse cruise holiday that I have ever been on. To expect people to pay money and suffer those kind of conditions is unreasonable. Some families had paid more than £4,000."
Cynthia claims the unhappy passengers joined forces during the trip to hold meetings regarding the state of the ship.
But she says staff tried to clamp down on these gatherings by barring entry to the theatre area and rearranging bingo times to fill up free rooms.
She added: "The staff there didn't seem very experienced.
"In the theatre the air conditioning didn't work and a whole area was shut off because water had dripped into it.
"In the eating area there was a stench of sewage and diesel at times. It was horrendous.
"I was also told a hot tub had to be closed because sewage had got in there.
"It was a complete holiday from hell."
The couple say they have been advised by lawyers from Irwin Mitchell – the firm looking after the case – they could receive a refund of around 70 per cent from the holiday company.
However, Thomson has denied claims that problems were caused because of poor hygiene conditions on the ship.
A spokesman said: "The health and safety of our customers is our primary focus and we are genuinely concerned to hear of any illnesses reported on our ship. We continuously monitor all the ships in our fleet to ensure that the strictest health, safety, hygiene and comfort levels our customers expect are maintained.
"We would be happy to address the issues raised by the passengers directly, however as they have decided to seek legal advice and as the matter is now the subject of legal proceedings it would be inappropriate for us to comment further."