A woman was left in tears after being denied entry on-board a dream cruise with her husband. The retired couple had travelled to Southampton docks on September 19, ready and excited to set off on the £3,500 trip around Spain and Portugal.
But not long after unloading their luggage, the couple were denied boarding upon checking in. Wife Sandra, 72, was told she would not be able to board Cunard’s Queen Victoria due to an EU passport rule.
The devastated couple were told that, despite Sandra’s passport being in date with seven months left until expiry, she was not able to travel due to the issue date of August 20, 2013. Prior to Brexit, the expiry date was the cut off, however new EU regulations mean UK holidaymakers travelling to Europe must have a passport that has been issued within the previous 10 years.
READ MORE: WWE wrestler says Scottish women ‘all look like Shrek’ as he prepares for Glasgow show
READ MORE: Man can’t travel abroad after passport denied due to surname that ‘may cause offence’
Husband Andrew, a retired teacher, said that the problem was not picked up when the couple entered their details in the Cunard website and they were not informed during the booking process with Hays Travel. However, both companies have insisted it is included in the small print of their terms and conditions.
Devon Live reports that Andrew was looking forward to what would have been his 23rd cruise with his wife – making them Cunard diamond members. But he is now warning others to check the issue date on their passports before travelling.
The 62-year-old said: “We went to check in as we always do and we were dragged off to the side and my wife was told she couldn’t travel because it had an invalid issue date – despite the expiry date being in another seven months. We didn’t have a clue about this rule.
“I was so upset and my wife couldn’t stop crying in the terminal with everyone looking at her and we then had to wait for staff to unload our bags from the boat.”
To make matters worse, the couple have now been refused a refund for the trip. Andrew continued: “I have tried to seek compensation from Hays Travel and Cunard but neither want to know. We feel so upset as we can’t afford to lose £3,500. What makes me cross is I put my wife’s passport details onto the Cunard website but the system does not flag up there is a problem; it only flags up the expiry date.
“A standard email sent by Cunard before your cruise has a section headed ‘passports’ with a read more link. It states, ‘depending on your itinerary, you will require a certain length of validity left on your passport when you return home’. There is no mention of the issue date on a passport.
“Cunard won’t even transfer the money that was lost to a future cruise to lessen the financial impact. It’s been such a horrible experience that I feel it should be publicised to make other people aware to check the issue date of their passports. I will be filing a complaint with the Travel Ombudsman as I feel Hays should have shown a better duty of care towards us.”
A spokesperson for Hays Travel said: “While we can understand Mr and Mrs Sutherland’s disappointment at not being able to travel, we make it clear to our customers that they are responsible for specific passport and visa requirements, and this is set out in our terms and conditions. We always advise customers to check that their passport will be valid for travel and if not to renew at the earliest opportunity.”
Join Glasgow Live’s Whatsapp Community here and get the latest news sent straight to your messages.
In an email sent to Andrew from Cunard’s customer services team, he was told: “I am sorry to hear that you are unable to join your voyage. Unfortunately, with the UK having now withdrawn from the European Union, countries within the EU will not accept the extensions on some existing UK passports and they consider a passport only to be valid for 10 years from the date of issue.
“This information is available in the booking conditions and frequently asked questions sections of our website. Unfortunately, where the responsibility lies with our guests to ensure they have adequate validity on their passport we would not be able to transfer the funds from this voyage to any upcoming bookings.”
Cunard has been approached for a comment.
Sign up to our daily Glasgow Live newsletter here to receive news and features direct to your inbox.
You can find this story in My Bookmarks.Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right.