AN elderly couple have spoken of their “nightmare” cruise as they launch a court case with scores of others against a major holiday operator.
Jane and William Grant claim their sail across the Mediterranean was wrecked in October last year when a bug floored Mrs Grant for almost a full week.
Now, more than a year on, she says she still suffers ill effects and is one of 200 people suing Thomson after an illness outbreak on its biggest liner, the Thomson Dream.
Today, the Danderhall couple said they still have received no apology or compensation from Thomson, despite their trip – which cost a four-figure sum – being ruined.
Mr Grant 73, a former electricity board worker, said the problems started before they even boarded the vessel.
“When we were walking alongside the boat for the first time, the stench of sewage was unbelievable. It was like Seafield on a bad day,” he said.
“We got to our cabin and I noticed all this brown-coloured water on the bathroom floor, tried to mop it back, but then it just kept seeping back so I went to get someone to fix it.
“In that time my wife tried to clean it, too, and I think that must have been what sparked the illness.
“It didn’t hit straight away, we went out for our meal then had to come straight back because she felt so ill.
“We barely got to the cabin before she exploded out both ends. A plumber had to come to unblock everything.”
It spoiled what was supposed to be the celebration of Mrs Grant’s 72nd birthday.
Matters were made worse when a senior crew nurse “patronised” them.
“She told us my wife was seasick, but we were still tied to the harbour,” he recalled.
“We’d been on 15 other cruises and never been seasick so we knew that wasn’t it.”
He said his suspicion grew as he spoke to others on the boat.
“I got talking to folk because my wife spent five of the seven days in bed and I had to eat on my own.
“There were folk saying they wanted off the boat and to go home now. So many folk were switching cabins because of one problem or another, it was like a game of chess.
“We started on the second floor and ended on the sixth.”
Mrs Grant’s stomach gave her trouble for months after the cruise, having never been a problem before, and she still needs to take pills to help her digestion she said.
Theirs was not the only complaint against the company. Law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is taking the case forward, said others on board the vessel between May and October 2010 complained of overflowing toilets, undercooked and reused food, broken air conditioning, power cuts and poor quality meals.
At the launch of the legal action, Elizabeth Tetzner, an expert within Irwin Mitchell’s law team, said: “For nearly half the claimants that we act on behalf of to have suffered gastric illness is totally unacceptable and a matter of grave concern.
“Tour operators are aware that illnesses such as this can have a significant and long-lasting effect on people’s health and their quality of life, and they must take their responsibility to protect passengers who book holidays with them very seriously.”
Despite repeated attempts by the Evening News, no-one from Thomson was available for comment.