Page last updated at 21:46 GMT, Thursday, 3 December 2009

Couple's cruise payout challenged

Cunard cruise liner Queen Victoria
Cunard says the payout was "manifestly excessive"

A cruise company has started an appeal to reduce £22,000 in damages awarded to a North Yorkshire couple who claim their dream holiday was ruined.

Terence and Cynthia Milner booked a £65,000 cruise, aboard the world maiden voyage of Cunard's Queen Victoria, expecting the "holiday of a lifetime".

The Court of Appeal heard the couple became ill and were in a "terrible state" as a result of their troubles.

Cunard says the award by a county court judge was "manifestly excessive".

London's Civic Appeal Court heard the Harrogate couple's trouble began on the first night of their 15-week holiday in January 2008, when a banging noise in their cabin began in bad weather and meant they were unable to sleep.

They felt unwell and Mr Milner suffered from mouth ulcers and Mrs Milner from breathing difficulties
Barrister Sarah Prager

From then on they suffered illness and finally left the liner in Hawaii.

Christopher Lundie, representing the ship's owners, said the payout was likely to encourage speculative court action and suggested the correct level was in the range of £2,000 to £3,000.

Sarah Prager, for the couple, said they had been looking forward to their holiday - for which they paid just over £59,000, having secured a 10% discount - for 19 months.

Mrs Milner bought 21 gowns costing £4,300 but was unable to wear any of them.

Cunard accepted the couple were unable to sleep on the first two nights and provided them with another suite, which was later upgraded.

But Miss Prager said the first alternative accommodation was an inside cabin fitted for the disabled which suffered from constant engine noise.

They were later moved to another suite but were worried about how long they could keep it because it had been booked by passengers joining later.

'Exhausted and inconsolable'

Miss Prager said: "They felt unwell and Mr Milner suffered from mouth ulcers and Mrs Milner from breathing difficulties."

Eventually the couple left the cruise in Honolulu, receiving a full refund for the part of the cruise they missed, a total of £48,240.

They stayed for six weeks before boarding the Queen Elizabeth II back to Southampton.

Miss Prager said Mr Milner was "in a terrible state" and they were both "exhausted and inconsolable" after the holiday.

After launching a claim for damages, a judge at Skipton County Court awarded the couple a total of £22,000 - £2,000 for the wasted clothing costs, together with £7,500 each for the distress and disappointment and £2,500 each for the loss in value of the holiday.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal reserved their judgement to a later date.

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