Cruise passengers furious as free replacement holiday is CANCELLED

Passengers on £4,000 cruise which featured entertainment from Tony Hadley are left furious as their free replacement holiday is CANCELLED at the last minute because the ship ‘isn’t ready’

  • Holidaymakers received trip in compensation after first voyage hit by problems 
  • With just weeks to go they were astonished to hear it too had gone wrong 
  • One couple called Virgin a ‘joke’ and said Richard Branson should be ashamed 

Passengers on a disastrous 80s pop acts cruise who were offered a free replacement holiday are up in arms again – after that new trip was suddenly cancelled.

Hundreds of holidaymakers who had paid more than £4,000 for a cruise around the Mediterranean with entertainment by Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley and T’Pau earlier this year were offered the free trip as compensation after their first voyage was hit by a string of problems.

But with just weeks to go – and many having flights to their embarkation point already booked – they were astonished to hear from Virgin Voyages that it too had gone wrong and would not go ahead.

Among those affected both times are Susan Whittaker and her husband John. She said: ‘This company is a complete joke. Richard Branson should hang his head in shame.’

Her friend Caroline Ward, who was among a group of six friends who were offered the free cruise, added:’ It is disgusting. We have paid for flights, taxis and hotels and then we get an email telling us the cruise is cancelled. They are just messing us around and this should not be allowed.’

Hundreds of holidaymakers who had paid more than £4,000 for a cruise around the Mediterranean with entertainment by Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley and T’Pau earlier this year were offered the free trip as compensation after their first voyage was hit by a string of problems. Pictured left to right: Caroline Ward, Sue Whitaker, Debbie Hirscher, Chris Hirscher and (seated), John Carrol

Susan and John and friends from Hull, East Yorkshire, were among hundreds disappointed by the original eighties pop cruise. 

As well as Hadley and T’Pau, other featured stars were Toyah, Altered Images, ABC singer Martin Fry and former Radio 1 DJs Bruno Brookes and Gary Davies.

But it was hit by a series of incidents and problems including food shortages, the cancellation of planned stops and visits. 

These culminated in a passenger going overboard. The Valiant Lady cruise liner altered course and turned around to help in the search with holidaymakers asked to keep a look out.

The missing person was never located with many of the passengers left devastated.

As a concession for the problems and upset Virgin Voyages offered each passenger a free cruise later in the year.

Susan, John, Caroline, her partner Andrew Clayton and two other friends Chris and Debbie Hirscher had all booked the Greek Island cruise that was set to depart at the end of August on Virgin Voyages latest liner.

But with just weeks before the ‘free’ cruise around the Greek islands was due to set sail the trip has been cancelled with disappointed travellers told their cruise ship the Resilient Lady will not be ready.

But with just weeks to go – and many having flights to their embarkation point already booked – they were astonished to hear from Virgin Voyages that it too had gone wrong and would not go ahead. Pictured left to right: Chris Hirscher, Debbie Hirscher, Caroline Ward, Sue Whitaker, John Carrol and Andrew Layton

The 110,000-tonne liner, which can cater to over 3,000 passengers, is still being readied in its dock in Genoa, Italy.

Each had booked flights to Athens to join the cruise as well as hotels and taxis.

Virgin contacted passengers to inform them the cruise was now cancelled offering an alternative eight night cruise from Barcelona.

But they refused to allow the disappointed holidaymakers to book a replacement cruise for 2023 telling them the offer was only valid for this year.

Caroline, 65, said: ‘We had all booked holidays from work, so it is not that easy to change. 

‘Not only did they cancel the cruise, but the itinerary was also changed. Instead of going to Crete we were told it would now stop in Bodrum in Turkey. I just get the feeling they are messing us about.

‘I had booked the cruise in April as a 60th birthday treat for my husband, but it turned into a bit of a shambles. We are all fans of 80s music and chose that cruise.’

The problems during the first voyage culminated in a passenger going overboard. The Valiant Lady cruise liner altered course and turned around to help in the search with holidaymakers asked to keep a look out

Virgin Voyages announced earlier this week that the Resilient Lady would not be ready to go into service and blamed the current crisis affecting the aviation industry for the delay.

It is the third ship in their fleet with the company.

A spokesman said: ‘There are a number of global challenges that affect travel and particularly the cruise industry, including supply chain issues, crewing challenges and regional uncertainty.

‘Every decision we make is driven by our commitment to creating a safe and inspiring environment for both Crew and Sailors, and we never want to put ourselves in a position where we could negatively impact our Sailor experience or Crew’s well-being.

‘The challenges we are facing are not exclusive to Virgin Voyages; they’re affecting our industry and travel as a whole.’ 

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