An Australian couple who claim their luxury river cruising holiday turned out to be a “Contiki bus tour” have joined other dissatisfied passengers in possible legal action.
Gavin and Tina Lawrence, of Wollongong in NSW, spent more than $20,000 on a 15-day scenic river cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest last year booked with Scenic Tours.
The trip was part of their wedding celebrations.
But Mr Lawrence says the luxury break rapidly became a disaster after low river levels forced them to spend most of the holiday travelling on buses and public ferries.
“If I wanted a Contiki bus tour, I would have booked one and saved myself a lot of money,” he told Nine.com.au.
“It was supposed to be something relaxing and special before our wedding, but it was horrible.”
The couple and other disgruntled customers claim Scenic Tours provided an inferior replacement to the advertised luxury cruises after drought conditions across Europe last year.
It’s claimed that just two days into the Lawrences’ holiday, the couple were told to pack their bags one night ahead of a change of ships in the morning.
The next day, their planned cruise was substituted for a bus tour and public ferry ride.
When the couple boarded the replacement ship, passengers were told the toilet vacuum was faulty and had to be fixed.
Mr Lawrence says they spent only four days aboard the luxury cruise boat while they travelled on buses, public ferries or stayed in hotels for the remainder of their holiday. He also claims the food served in the hotels was substandard and a poor replacement.
Last week the NSW Supreme Court determined passengers may have a case against Scenic Tours for the drought-hit cruises. It ordered the firm to release documents that could help establish how many Australians customers were affected.
Lawyer Cameron Graham, of Sommerville Legal in NSW, said passengers on 14 separate cruises operated by Scenic Cruises had contacted the legal firm for help in seeking compensation.
“They booked and paid for a luxury cruise and what they were provided with was something entirely different,” he said.
Nine.com.au has contacted Scenic Tours for comment.