Cruise

Scenic passengers mull class action after “devastating” drought cruises

A group of dissatisfied Scenic Tours passengers are looking to file a class action in the wake of extreme drought conditions in Europe last year.

At least 14 Scenic cruises were interrupted by low water levels in 2018, with many passengers complaining the cruise line offered a poor substitute to the luxury cruises advertised, according to ABC News.

“Disappointing is probably an understatement,” Gavin Lawrence, a passenger who spent more than $17,000 on a 15-day river cruise told ABC News.

Lawrence and his wife were forced to spend half their trip on busses due to low water levels.

“If I wanted to do a Contiki bus tour, I would have gone on one and saved myself a lot of money,” he said.

The NSW Supreme Court has determined the passengers could have a case against Scenic Tours and ordered the company to provide documents to help determine how many Australian passengers were affected.

This isn’t the first time Scenic has had a class action taken out against it, after flooding in 2013 disrupted cruises for more than 1,200 travellers who were also forced to travel via bus.

In 2017, Justice Peter Garling found Scenic breached the Australian consumer law by not informing passengers about the severe weather disruptions.

“They booked and paid for a luxury cruise and what they were provided with was something entirely different,” Lawyer Cameron Graham told ABC News regarding the new action.

“They had gone to Europe expecting to receive what was advertised by Scenic Tours in their brochure and what they instead got was a poor substitute.”

Another couple, Darran and Merrilyn Kelly told ABC News they saved for two years for a $37,000 cruise, but only got five our of 14-days worth of the luxury cruise experience.

“It was devastating,” Kelly said.

“If we had been aware of the significant risk of the river cruise not proceeding, we would have taken a credit note or refund and booked another cruise at another time.”

Graham is urging anyone affected by the disrupted cruises to get in touch, and there could be anywhere from 400 to 1,200 passengers with similar experiences to the Lawrences and the Kellys.

“A class action is quite an expensive exercise and because our clients are just regular consumers pursuing a large well-heeled company, they need to make sure there are enough people affected by this before they go ahead and commence a class action,” Graham said.

A Scenic spokesperson told Travel Weekly the company is currently reviewing the material before taking its next steps.

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