An Australian couple are leading a class action suit against Scenic Tours, claiming heavy rainfall ruined their European holiday.
According to a report in SMH, the couple, David Moore and Janette Howell told Fairfax their $26,000 “luxury” holiday turned into “”cheap, second-rate bus tours” because of extensive flooding in Europe.
Moore and Howell claim they were unable to experience “much of the promised sightseeing” due to the inclement weather, and instead “spent hours on substandard coaches, including one without a working toilet and air conditioning”, the report stated.
Extensive flooding on the Rhine, Saone, Rhone and Danube rivers between April and May 2013 resulted in affected tours, as some cruise ships were unable to operate on the unusually high water levels.
Defending the claim, Scenic Tours’ chief operating officer, Damien Thomas told Travel Weekly the “extreme” weather conditions were unable to be predicted, as it occurs only once every 100 years.
“Unfortunately we have no control over the weather. These were extreme circumstances with this level of flooding only occurring every 100 years,” he said.
“We do however always respond as best we can in these challenging circumstances, and aim to provide the highest quality service and travel experience at all times including when a change to an itinerary is necessary due to prevailing weather or river conditions.”
“The quality of the guest experience is always our top priority and we always do our utmost to limit the impact on their holiday.”
Furthermore, Scenic Tours told the paper its standard terms and conditions allows the operator to make changes to itineraries due to weather conditions, however, the couple argue passengers were not notified of “significant changes, disruption or delays” and have invited up to 1300 other passengers who travelled between May and June 2013 with Scenic and its sister-brand, Evergreen Tours to join the class action case running in the NSW Supreme Court. More than 120 have already joined the case, and lawyers for the couple are in the process of contacting remaining passengers from 16 affected cruises.
The claim states Scenic Tours breached Australian Consumer Law by failing to delay or cancel the cruises, offer alternative tours or warn of expected delays, Fairfax reports.
“Passengers chose to book these holidays to enjoy a relaxing cruise along rivers, not a second-rate bus tour. Many chose to cruise because of limited mobility or other health problems. Travelling long distances by bus was the last thing they expected, and nothing like what they paid for,”Benjamin Hemsworth from Somerville Legal, the firm taking the case, told the paper.
Scenic Tours told the paper that because river cruises are operated by independent contractors, including Scenic Tours Europe AG, any claims must be pursued against them directly.