Thousands of travellers have had their holidays cancelled or cut short after a British cruise firm went into administration.
All Leisure Holidays, which operates the Swan Hellenic and Voyages of Discovery cruise brands, reportedly ceased operations on Tuesday.
Travel Weekly reported that as many as 850 customers may have had their breaks cut short at the very last minute - with two of the firm’s ships due to depart ports in Malaysia and France this week.
The majority of the company’s 150 employees were made redundant shortly after the company fell into administration and all future bookings have been cancelled, leaving around 13,000 people seeking refunds.
Around two-thirds of customers are protected under the Atol scheme while remaining holidaymakers on UK departing cruises will be able to get their money back through Abta, the Press Association reported.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it would ensure the firm’s customers stranded overseas would be repatriated at no extra cost under the ATOL protection scheme.The scheme also guarantees that some 7,000 future bookings will be fully refunded.
ATOL’s top tips to ensure you’re protected
1. Think outside the box – package holidays can be personalised.
There are plenty of ways to tailor a holiday for you and your family, so don’t be put off by the term ‘package holiday’.
2. Do your research and check for ATOL protection.
Visit www.packpeaceofmind.co.uk and enter the details into the ‘Check an ATOL’ database.
3. Think beyond the price.
There are many foreign-based travel companies, which offer cheap and attractive package holidays, but these will not have ATOL protection.
4. Take your ATOL certificate with you.
You must receive an ATOL certificate as soon as you pay any money towards an ATOL protected holiday.
5. Use a credit card and take out good medical and travel insurance.
If you are booking your holiday through a number of travel operators, this will not be ATOL protected, so remember to pay with a credit or debit card - these provide some protection.
Other All Leisure Group brands include tour operations Travelsphere and Just You.
The firm had earlier warned of “very challenging” trading conditions.
Staff at the firm are believed to have been made redundant.
Andy Cohen, Head of ATOL at the CAA, told Sky News: “We understand this will be concerning news for anyone who has booked to travel with the company.
“However, the ATOL scheme exists for exactly this kind of situation and we are making immediate arrangements so all ATOL protected customers can claim full refunds as quickly as possible.”
He added: “While this situation is very disappointing for the customers affected, it is also a timely reminder of the importance of remembering to check for ATOL protection when booking holidays.
“By making sure you receive an ATOL certificate when you book, you have peace of mind you will not lose your money or have to make your own way home - even if your travel company stops trading.”
Click here to find out more about how to claim under ATOL.