Travellers whose European holiday was disrupted by 2013 floods win $20,000 in compensation

A group of disappointed travellers, whose European River Cruise holidays were disrupted by major flooding in 2013, have been awarded more than $20,000 each in compensation by the New South Wales Supreme Court.

The case involved claims from 13 identified cruises that travelled from Amsterdam to Budapest along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers, operated by Scenic Tours.

The court found the company had not provided the “once-in-a-lifetime cruise along the grand waterways of Europe” where the travellers would be “immersed in all-inclusive luxury” with “first-class service and intimate personal touches” as advertised in their brochures.

Instead, details of each cruise shows most days were spent on buses, and staying in hotels, leaving the travellers angry and frustrated after spending thousands for the luxury trip.

The case is unusual because the damages were able to be awarded for disappointment and distress, after a High Court ruling in 2020.

The court has awarded damages to 32 specific claimants who were represented in the case, including the man who led the class action, David Moore.

The court found Mr Moore’s experience was so bad, he should get a full refund.(ABC News: Nick Dole)

Mr Moore chose the cruise partly because he had a physical disability that made sitting for extended periods difficult.

He had not travelled extensively overseas before.

The court found Mr Moore’s experience was so bad he should get a full refund.

Another man travelling with family said the cruise was a disaster.

“The only cruising that I experienced as per the itinerary was during the first four days,” he said.

“I was disappointed by how much time we spent on buses.

“We spent more time on buses than on the ship, and certainly more time on buses than at our destinations,” another of the travellers said.

Another was a woman travelling with her mother and father who had mesothelioma.

The NSW Supreme Court awarded travellers more than $20,000 each.(AAP: Bianca De Marchi)

She told the court the first few days went well, but things quickly became difficult when the cruise was affected by the weather.

“Due to my father’s deteriorating health, I thought that this cruise would probably be our last holiday together as a family before my father’s passing,” she told the court.

But the family found themselves travelling in buses to cities with very limited visiting time, and also swapped to a vessel of lesser quality.

The court awarded three lots of damages for the loss of value in the trip and some got full airfares refunded.

The lawyer who ran the case, Ben Hemsworth, hailed the award of damages as an important victory.

“Many passengers used their life savings to experience a five-star luxury cruise of a lifetime,” Mr Hemsworth said.

“What they received from Scenic did not resemble what they paid for and the court has ordered Scenic to pay compensation in recognition of what the group members had to endure.

“The court … has made it clear that Scenic are responsible and will have to properly compensate all disappointed group members.”

Mr Hemsworth says he hopes the ruling will be a blueprint for the remaining 1,200 members of the class action.