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Woman battling cancer refused £2,000 cruise refund


Seriously ill: Mary Hennessey at her home

Seriously ill: Mary Hennessey at her home

Seriously ill: Mary Hennessey at her home

A cruise company has denied a Northern Ireland woman who is battling cancer a full refund for a dream holiday she was unfit to go on.

Mary Hennessey paid package specialists Planet Cruise almost £2,000 for a Mediterranean cruise before learning her cancer had returned.

Her doctor declared her unfit to travel and she cancelled her ticket — but she was offered a refund of less than a quarter of what she paid.

The 67-year-old grandmother-of-six from Greenisland was also refused the opportunity of switching the ticket into her daughter's name.

“I'm really upset. It's bad enough to be told you're too ill to go on your dream holiday without all this,” Mrs Hennessey said. “I’ve been in and out of hospital recently as I’ve started chemotherapy again, so obviously my doctor said that I can’t and won’t be able to travel.

“I paid £1,998 for my husband and I to go on the trip, but Planet Cruise has only offered me a refund of £456.

“They said I would have to take that or nothing, because of their cancellation policy.”

Mrs Hennessey, who first saw the Mediterranean cruise advertised on the shopping channel Ideal World, booked the holiday from May 15-29.

The mother-of-three claims she paid a £600 deposit last August, followed by the balance in full in December, believing she was in good health despite having been ill with the disease in the past.

“I was shocked when I went to see the doctor... I thought I was okay, I thought I was in remission,” she said.

“I understand the company has a cancellation policy and I would have been happy enough to lose 30% — but losing almost it all doesn’t seem fair.

“Everything has been quite traumatic for me recently and I’m just disgusted with the way I’ve been treated.”

A spokeswoman for the company said “everything possible” had been done to reimburse Mrs Hennessey with “as much of her holiday payment as possible.

“Cancellation took place (35 days before departure) due to a pre-existing medical condition,” said the spokeswoman.

“Mrs Hennessey did not have travel insurance to cover her condition, therefore she cannot claim to retrieve the outstanding amount.

“Gaining insurance cover would have likely involved an expensive insurance premium/excess, and this is very unfortunate indeed, and our full sympathy goes to our customer.

“We are under contract and have paid the suppliers providing the holiday,” added the company’s spokeswoman.

“At the time of booking customers are advised to invest in travel insurance to compensate any shortfall in the event of cancellation.”

Expert advice

Solicitor Catherine Dixon, from James H Rodgers & Co, advised anyone booking any form of travel to have insurance. “It is also wise to check cancellation policies before handing over money — and probably better to book, if possible, with companies who allow refunds, even if it means paying slightly more for a holiday/hotel to have a cancellation option,” she said. “While the company may legally be correct, it seems odd that they will not agree to let another passenger take her place in these particular circumstances.”

Belfast Telegraph