✉ My niece and her fiancé were due to travel with easyJet from Bristol to Rome at the end of May to celebrate a birthday. They arrived on time but didn’t get past the baggage drop off. EasyJet staff refused to register their case as they did not have the correct FFP2 mask to board the flight. They didn’t receive any help, even though they asked where they could buy the right masks, and the staff didn’t offer them a mask either. They lost £1,800 (their hotel wouldn’t refund their booking) and complained to easyJet but, despite numerous attempts, were unable to contact them to discuss a refund . What do you suggest?
I’m afraid there is no chance of reimbursement for your niece and her fiancé. Travelers are responsible for meeting the entry requirements and easyJet said passengers are advised before and after booking to check them. Masks are no longer mandatory on flights to and from Italy, but the FFP2 variety must still be worn if arriving by ferry, train or coach until September 30. It is essential to consult the advice for traveling abroad on gov.uk and you can sign up for country updates.
✉ My wife will be 60 next April and has always wanted to spend time on a yacht because we have been dinghy sailing as a family in the past. We would probably go in the spring or early summer next year and fit that into a longer vacation. What can you suggest?
If an idyllic cruise around the Greek Ionian Islands interests you, book a cabin on Mythos, a crewed 56-footer with a large teak deck – the boat can accommodate up to eight people. A week costs £1,330 pp, including everything but dinners (anko-yachting.com). Alternatively, Yacht Getaways can take you on seven routes across the Mediterranean, including Croatia, Greece and Montenegro, on eight-person catamarans. A seven-night half-board trip from Split in northern Croatia starts at £1,413 pp, including drinks with meals (yachtgetaways.com).
✉ My wife and I wanted to go to the Isle of Man so we booked a Hebridean Island Cruises trip which included two visits to the island. It cost £17,750 for seven days and was due to depart from Oban on September 7 last year. On September 4, I received an e-mail informing me that the visit to the Isle of Man was cancelled; there were also other changes to the original route. The Hebridean office was closed over the weekend so I emailed that I would never have booked the trip on the revised itinerary and would seek compensation for the missed tours. I received no response so, feeling we had no other choice, we traveled to Oban and joined the Hebridean Princess. The ship was good and the food too, so on our return I wrote again to claim £7500 compensation for the missed visits. Hebridean’s response stated that under the terms and conditions, it reserves the right to make any changes it deems necessary. I think we wasted £17,750 and such a change is unacceptable. Can you help ?
You paid a huge sum to find out that if you really, really want to go somewhere, you shouldn’t bank on a cruise to get there. All cruise lines have this exit clause in their contracts as there are myriad reasons why itineraries need to change, often at the last minute. Some cruise lines would have given a cruise credit or discount on another voyage in this situation, but Hebridean Island Cruises remains firm. Ken Charleson, its managing director, offered no apology but explained that the route changes were mainly due to Covid restrictions; the Isle of Man government had announced it would lift the ban on cruise ships, but later extended it. The company is not a member of any professional body that could handle your claim and I can only suggest that for future cruises you use a specialist agent, who may have some leverage in negotiating compensation, and to take out missing postage insurance.
The Brandenburg Gate, Berlin
✉ I want to book a surprise trip to Berlin for my husband’s birthday next April. We will be 11 (ages 8-71) and plan to leave three or four days before Easter. I’m happy to spend £1500 on a hotel, can you recommend a suitable place and must-do activities?
Try the serene, comfortable and welcoming Hotel Johann on a quiet residential street in the bustling Kreuzberg district. Rooms are minimalist but comfortable, with wooden floors, high ceilings, and exposed brick walls. bathrooms have heated floors and there’s a stylish bar for a late-night Jägermeister. It’s within walking distance of two U-Bahn stations and you can hire bikes if you fancy a ride along the Landwehr canal. Double rooms start at £240 for three nights next April, room only (hotel-johann.berlin).
Berlin is a sprawling city, but the main sights are relatively close together and a walking tour is a great place to start. Berlin Walks covers a lot in just under four hours, including Checkpoint Charlie, the Brandenburg Gate, part of the Berlin Wall, Museum Island and the ‘Führerbunker’ site and costs £17 per person; children are free (berlinwalks.de). You should pre-register for free tickets to visit the impressive dome of the Reichstag building (bundestag.de) and I would also recommend an afternoon at Tempelhof Airport, famous for its Nazi history and the Cold War, which closed in 2008 and is now a bucolic escape; its tracks and meadows are popular with go-karts (hire karts by the hour), walkers and cyclists (thf-berlin.de).
✉ In March I booked a rental car with Enterprise for two weeks in Spain. The price quoted was £706. Last week, the day before the trip, I received an email from Enterprise encouraging me to check in online and pay. The price had risen to over £1,000. Afraid of having to pay a penalty for canceling the reservation at the last minute, I proceeded reluctantly. It seems that leases only work for the benefit of the business, not the customer. The customer is bound to his reservation, but the company is not bound to honor the price offered by revealing a much higher price at the last moment. Regardless of the legal situation, what about the ethics?
Car rental is a horror story this summer, with companies charging ridiculous rates due to vehicle shortages, but it seems that in your case the eye-popping price hike is due to a computer glitch. Enterprise has now apologized for the “confusion” over the cost of your rental car. “The discrepancy between the original quote and the figure that appeared on the subsequent email sent to the client was due to a system error. We are aware of this error and the matter has been investigated. We spoke directly to Mr Bingham before he collected the vehicle and assured him that the original quote would be honoured,’ a spokesperson said.
If you have a complaint, suggestion or question regarding your holiday, please email [email protected]