Passenger wins damages for “disappointment and distress” from Scenic river cruise

Scenic Diamond, Bordeaux, Pont de Pierre, France

A cruise passenger has been awarded damages for “disappointment and distress” after his luxury cruise turned into a bus tour.

David Moore and his wife were seeking compensation from Scenic Tours after their European river cruise was disrupted by flooding in 2013.

Court documents reveal Moore and his wife spent their life savings of $18,000 on the cruise, as they were attracted to having the ability to travel without the restrictions of confined spaces as he had previously undergone spinal surgery and found it difficult to sit for extended periods.

High water levels on the Rhine and Main Rivers meant that the cruise started on a different vessel and was met with substantial disruptions including changing ships three times and spending many hours on busses. Moore and his fellow passengers spent three days on a cruise ship instead of the advertised 10.

Moore was part of a class action against Scenic involving 1,500 other passengers who experienced disruptions on various other cruises run by the company.

Justice Peter Garling found Scenic Tours had breached Australian consumer law by not specifically warning passengers about weather disruptions.

He said the tour company “played down the significance of what was occurring on the rivers in Europe” and that the company should have given passengers the option to postpone or cancel their trip.

On 24 April Moore was awarded damages for “disappointment and distress” after the high court upheld his appeal for compensation.

The ruling could set a president for other passengers affected by disruptions to travel, including the other passengers involved in the class action against Scenic Tours.

According to ABC News, Moore’s solicitor Ben Hemsworth said the ruling was a “victory for all consumers who have experienced ruined holidays”.

“If consumers are supplied with a disappointing and inadequate substitute, they will be entitled to compensation,” he said.

Meanwhile, in October 2019, the NSW supreme court determined passengers from 14 Scenic cruises in 2018 who were also affected by water levels could have a case against Scenic Tours and ordered the company to provide documents to help determine how many Australian passengers were affected.

Somerville Legal, the firm representing the passengers, said Scenic Tours will launch an appeal.

“In view of the judgments for the 2013 “cruises” it is hard to imagine how they could win,” the firm said on its website.

Travel Weekly has approached Scenic for comment.

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