Cancelled cruise costs Millingandi couple $6500

When Paul and Patricia Martin, of Millingandi, had to cancel their cruise on the Queen Mary 2 due to ill health they expected to get some recompense through their travel insurance but unfortunately this was not so and now Mrs Martin is warning buyers to beware.

Patricia and Paul Martin’s cancelled holiday left the Millingandi couple disenchanted.

Patricia and Paul Martin’s cancelled holiday left the Millingandi couple disenchanted.

Mr and Mrs Martin saw the cruise advertised in one of the weekend newspapers and phoned the Flight Centre office to book it in December 2013. Mrs Martin said: “We have an Altitude Black credit card with Westpac at Merimbula which provides free international travel insurance if you use the credit card to book the holiday and so that is what we did.”

The cruise from Sydney to Hong Kong departed March 14 but sadly the Martins were not on it because in January it was discovered that Paul had a brain tumour. In mid February Mrs Martin rang Westpac to claim on the travel insurance after they had to cancel the cruise package they had booked, an additional one night stay in Hong Kong and flights back to Australia.

“I rang Westpac but they told me I had to contact the insurance providers, Zurich which I did. I downloaded their forms and filled out nine pages and sent it off.”

The next thing that Mrs Martin heard was from Zurich who told her that they wouldn’t pay as Paul’s condition was considered to be pre-existing. They wouldn’t even pay for Mrs Martin’s cancelled holiday.

“It’s five years since Paul had a previous brain tumour and we believed him to be in remission after five years,” she said.

Mrs Martin then contacted cruise company Cunard, in the hope of getting a credit so that they could have their holiday after Paul had an operation but Cunard told her she must deal with the Flight Centre as she booked the holiday through that company.

But she had no success; knowing that Cunard had a policy of giving back 25 per cent if holidays were cancelled within a certain period, Mrs Martin felt confident that she would at least get $1689.50 of the cost of the $6758 cruise. In fact she received $1338, some $351 short of 25 per cent which the Flight Centre told her was for “admin costs”.

From the $426 paid for the hotel in Hong Kong, the Flight Centre was only prepared to return $8.92.

Mrs Martin questioned the amount and said: “The girl in the Flight Centre call centre asked me what I would expect to get back and I asked her the same thing. She then said to me: ‘I can’t afford to go on expensive holidays’ like she was taking it out on me for having a holiday. Paul’s worked 50 years and I have worked 30 years so that we can enjoy holidays.”

She said that she was very unhappy with the attitude of the Flight Centre staff. “I had to keep phoning the Centre, they never phoned me.”

Of the cost of flights, $731 per person, the Martins received $463.03 back.

Happily Paul has now had his operation and is well on the way to recovery but it is unlikely that the couple will ever book anything through the Flight Centre again.

Mrs Martin said: “I think the buyer has to beware. I would never normally have booked with them but I saw it in a Sunday paper and phoned through. Basically we’re about $6500 out of pocket. Westpac didn’t want anything to do with me and I found the Flight Centre hard to deal with.”