A cruise that did not happen and the consequences

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Review Details

Overall Rating:
Cruise Line:
Swan Hellenic River Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Royal Crown

Review Profile

Times cruised before:
January 2017
We booked a cruise via Reader Offers in January on Swan Hellenic (ocean cruises, but only the river ones are left on their submission options)departing from Tenerife to the Cape Verde Islands. We had travelled before with them with a positive experience. As you all probably know, All Leisure Travel went into receivership on or about 4th January. We received a routine email from the agent telling this, telling us to contact ATOL and download the forms, and suggesting we contact their dedicated team. I don't know about you, but when I book a holiday, there is a holiday sized slot in my calendar, where other things are blanked out, and arrangements are made for various other activities to be carried by others. The agent could offer us nothing at short notice, and suggested we book another cruise with them later in the year. When it came to filling in the ATOL form, I realised that this form tried to be all things to all people and covered those that were already away, those that were about to leave, those who had just paid a deposit, those who wanted to use the flights and those who had paid by cash. The amount of documentation needed was vast, and included all receipts, invoices, original credit card bills, and if cash had been used, a form for solicitors to complete, to attest to the fact that it had not been a credit card. The rules are different if you take a flight or not. The agent indicated that they had no prior experience of this, and offered minimal support except trying to sell me another cruise at another date. Fortunately I had all the documentation and had paid on a credit card. I posted all my forms by 10th of January, and ATOL emailed me that they would hope to complete the refund in 28 days. In the event, the agent had 800 holidays booked, and I was told by ATOL that they had been sluggish at providing the information needed. On 20th Feb I received an email from ATOL, having phoned them a few days before, because the 28 days was expired. I have been told that I will get a refund within the next two weeks. The moral of this is to always pay by credit card, as that would have been my second line of claiming, and to never believe in the financial resilience of any travel organisation, especially smaller ones.
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