Dream cruise to nightmare

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WHEN Chorley pensioners Maureen and Michael Wardman booked a luxury cruise around the Mediterranean, it turned out to be unforgettable for all the wrong reasons.

The pensioners, both 71, had saved up for months to pay for the trip on the Grand Princess, but were struck down by sickness bug Norovirus just days into their two week holiday.

Instead of enjoying the sights, they were forced to stay in quarantine in their cabin for 48 hours.

Just as Michael began to feel better Maureen started with the same symptoms and the pair, who have been married for 50 years, ended up spending five days locked inside their room.

The couple, who live in Kirkstall Drive, have now been fighting for compensation for 10 months, but claim the most they have been offered is £100 each off a cruise in the future.

Maureen said: “The holiday was a complete nightmare from beginning to end. We couldn’t believe it as it was our 11th cruise and we had never had to complain in the past.

“We caught a coach from Preston to Southampton, where the ship was docked, and when we pulled up there was a huge queue to the check-in desk.

“I had never seen a queue like it in my life and felt lucky that I had hired a wheelchair.

“When we got to the desk, we were asked to sign a form to say that we hadn’t been ill in the last 48 hours, and that is when we started to realise something wasn’t right.

“However, the staff didn’t tell us there had been any problems and there wasn’t any notices around.”

Michael and Maureen’s suspicions were heightened when they went to the self-serve restaurant and found staff wearing plastic gloves and refusing to allow guests to help themselves.

“There wasn’t any condiments on the table and it all seemed very strange,” Maureen added.

“We knew that the ship was an old one, but it wasn’t a great standard and we had paid more than £1,000 each for the holiday.

“There was a really sour mood on board and the passengers looked absolutely miserable, and then four days into the holiday Michael started feeling ill.

“He was being sick every half hour and we had to call the doctor out first thing in the morning. I should have called him earlier really as he was really poorly.

“They gave him an injection to stop him vomiting and tablets and we had people coming in wearing masks and cleaning down the walls and surfaces.”

Maureen said that Michael helps her with her mobility and whilst she was ill, he couldn’t leave her side.

“It was absolutely awful,” she added. “I can’t ever remember being that ill before. Certainly not for a long time.

“And, just to top it all off, they had the cheek to charge us more than $200 each for medical bills.

“It was the worst holiday we have ever had and we couldn’t wait to come home.

“As soon as we got back, I wrote a letter of complaint and told them that we had the holiday from hell, but the most we have been offered is a £100 voucher off a cruise each. I can’t think of anything worse.

“We are platinum members with Princess Cruises, as we have sailed with them so many times, and I think the way they have treated us is insulting.”

A spokesman for Princess Cruises said: “We are sorry to hear that Mr and Mrs Wardman have these concerns following their cruise on board Grand Princess.

“Our passenger relations team are in contact directly with Mr and Mrs Wardman and we hope to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion.”