Hello everybody - I haven't posted for a while so please be gentle to me.
I am taking Thomson to court - here is the letter I sent to them. It has to be read to be believed
Hello I am writing to make a very serious complaint about our recent cruise. We went on the Thomson Dream Latin Gems cruise (15th-22nd December)
On the 3rd day of the cruise our 1 year old daughter became very ill. We took her to the ships doctor where he diagnosed her with having pneumonia. He asked next whether she had been eating or drinking anything. We explained that she had not eaten anything for the past 24 hours and that she would not drink any water. However we explained that she was still breast feeding so she was getting some fluids. The doctors response was to laugh at this and inquire why we were still breastfeeding a child who was nearly 2. When my wife explained that our daughter still enjoyed it, his retort was 'Well who doesn't enjoy a bit of breast' - totally inappropriate behavior, especially considering our concern for our daughter who by time was what the doctor described as 'close to critically ill', his option being that 'she should really be in a hospital'
The ship's doctor said we should visit a pediatrician to clarify whether our baby did have pneumonia as suspected. He did not prescribe any medication at this point. Our Baby had a high temperature, was lethargic, listless and clearly unwell. We explained that we had tried to give her some infant paracetamol but she had been sick straight after. We were given some more in a syringe/dropper and demonstrated that she couldn't take it. At this point the doctor, to our horror pinched our daughter nose to make her swallow. Then she promptly was sick again! He also spent about 5 minutes sticking a cotton bud in her ear to clean it. He asked if we had already done this and we explained that in the UK we are advised against putting anything into a child's ear.
We explained that oral antibiotics would not be any good as we couldn't get her to take them or to keep them down if she did manage to swallow them. We did not want to force her, she was already in distress and we didn't want to accelerate her condition anymore than we had to. We asked if she could be given either IV antibiotics or an intra-muscular treatment, but this fell on deaf ears and we were ignored. We were told that the ship was not equipped with necessary equipment for an infant. The doctor told us to go back to our rooms and wait for someone to come to us. He needed to contact the hospital in Curacao as he wanted us to see a paediatrician. We were taken to the hospital by taxi where we proceeded to wait for over 3 hours in searing heat with a critically ill baby with a rep (Greg) who specialised in planning excursions. It was at this point that we were told that the ship had not appointed a social and welfare host, so there was no point of contact for us for the remainder of the cruise. After being passed from doctor to doctor we were finally told to go down the paediatric ward to see a paediatrician. As we arrived we were told by the secretary that he had been waiting for us for over 2 hours and had now gone off to lunch for a couple of hours. Upon investigation we found out that Thomson had failed to notify the taxi driver that we were to be taken to the paediatric ward.. By this time our daughter was getting very distressed, going from screaming to being almost limp like a doll. The rep then informed us that we had to wait in the hospital as the doctor had prohibited our daughter from returning to the ship until she had been seen. At this time it was well into the afternoon and the ship was to leave at 6.00pm. Can you imagine the extra stress and strain this put us under, worrying that we might be left there with a poorly baby.
We finally saw the doctor and managed to get back to the ship before it sailed. We were next informed that our baby was not allowed to leave our room. On our 1st visit to the doctor he informed us that the pneumonia was not helped by air conditioning. When I explained to him that surely then the worst place for a baby to be was in a sealed air-conditioned room, they arranged for our air conditioning to be 'turned off'. Our room then turned into a sauna. Our child was very distressed and obviously being on a ship we no way of opening a window. The heat was unbearable.
The next day was spent at sea. We still had an extremely ill child, who we couldn't get to take antibiotics. Consequently her condition continued to deteriorate. The ships doctor prescribed a different antibiotic for her, despite once again, us explaining that she would not be able to keep them down.
The following morning we went to the ship's doctor where my wife was once again told to take our daughter off the ship to see a doctor. After speaking to our insurers we managed to see a private doctor. Again we were escorted by someone from Thomson.(Natalie) Still not the Social and Welfare host we expected. One of the first things the doctor asked is when she was last nebulized. We explained that we had not been made aware by the ships medical staff that our baby needed a nebulizer. The doctor explained that it should be standard procedure as she was clearly struggling to breathe and her oxygen saturation levels were low. When the Thomson rep called the ship they explained that there was no nebuliser on the ship that was suitable for a baby. We found this staggering considering it was a child-friendly cruise!. We were left with no other option but to buy a nebulizer on the island. My wife handed over $150 to a port agent at the medical center who was then sent off to buy a nebulizer for us along with steroid liquid etc..... My wife returned to the ship. The ship left Greneda at 5.00pm. At 4.30 she had still not received the nebulizer or the medication for our daughter. Again with no rep to contact and no one at reception answering calls she was left with no other option but to take our baby out of our room and up to reception where after queuing for 15 minutes we managed to speak to a member of the ships crew who passed the message on to the ship's medical team. The nebulizer arrived with literally minutes to spare.
The nebulisation did not come with a child mask, and your 'family friendly' ship did not have any masks for children. What transpired was a farcical attempt by the ship's nurse of holding the pipe under our babies nose, the result being that she got maybe a fraction of the medicine she needed whilst the rest of our already boiling hot cabin filled with ventolin steam.
Our final day on the ship started again with another trip to a medical center. We had to find out whether our baby was 'fit to fly' We were met by a port agent from Platinum called Linda and were escorted by yet another Thomson rep (Rowena). The first thing that happened was a major disagreement between the rep and the agent, literally at the bottom of the exit stairs of the ship. The Platinum rep insisted that we go to a private medical center to see a doctor for a fit to fly certificate. The Thomson rep insisted that we had to see a paediatrician at the local hospital for a fit to fly certificate. This turned into quite a spectacle, the Platinum rep assuring her that it would take a long time to see someone at the hospital, and it was unlikely that any paediatricians would be working on a Sunday. Please bear in mind that we had to vacate our rooms that morning and also leave the ship after lunch to go to the airport. With neither person willing to budge (although they were meant to be on the same side) our ill baby in our arms in the sweltering heat, we had no option but to interject and insist that we go to the medical center. Upon seeing a doctor our worse suspicions were confirmed, we were told that our daughter was not well enough to fly at this stage and would need to be reviewed the following day and we returned to the ship to collect our things. We feel very strongly that if the ship had been equipped with the correct medication and nebulizer for our baby then she would have been fit to fly on this day.
Our insurer would only pay for one person to stay out so I left with my older child to catch our flight whilst my wife returned to our sauna/cabin to collect our belongs. As we had to leave our luggage outside the previous night she had very little as far as clothes etc. We had no way of knowing the outcome regarding the fit to fly certificate. We had to go to reception and request an extension of our cabin. The ships doctor was still insisting we kept our baby confined to our cabin. We were told that this was possible but we would have to pay a standard charge of £35.00 (?) It wasn't until my wife pointed out that she was following instructions from a doctor and had no choice but to remain in the room that the receptionist relented and said she would check with her manager to see whether we could remain in the cabin without being charged. Please be assured, saving money was not the issue here. We are simply highlighting the huge amount of hoops my wife (primarily) had to jump through just to get adequate care and attention for our daughter.
It was at this point that she left the ship. No further contact from this point has been made by Thomson. As far as you are concerned she is probably still on the island. Nobody has contacted her to see whether she needed anything, if the room was OK (it wasn't), whether she needed a flight home - you totally washed your hands of the situation.
My wife was then sent under the instruction of the Platinum agent by taxi to a hotel (which we had to pay $100 a night for. Once again, money is not the issue but nobody checked to see if we actually had any extra money. Bear in mind we were intending to leave that day, had only a limited amount of cash with us and like most people don't have much disposable income. My wife was alone with a sick baby, a suitcase of belongings, a buggy and a large heavy box containing the nebulizer. (That we were about to find out didn't work on this island) The first thing she discovered was that the room was up a flight of stairs with no lift. My wife had to take our baby to the room leave her on the bed and run up and down the stairs on 2 further trips to take everything to the room. Again, totally unacceptable.
The room had no cot for our baby and a tiled floor. This meant that the baby had to sleep in the bed with her and risk falling out of bed that was 3ft high onto a tiled floor. Next to the bed where our baby had to sleep was a plug socket (Photographs enclosed) with exposed wiring that our baby could easily have touched should she wake in the night if my wife was asleep. It also meant she couldn't leave the baby unassisted to go to the toilet, have a shower etc. The room was directly next a 24 hour drive through which kept her and the baby awake the whole night. The bathroom had no window, only a noisy air grate that somebody could easily have broken into. The nebulizer did not work on that voltage, so our daughter was continually coughing due to her not being able to get her medication. My wife had no adapter for the room so she could not recharge her phone to keep in contact with our insurer AXA or myself. Again neither Thomson or the rep had thought of this or were able to assist. My wife called me in the middle of night, crying her eyes out and panicking that she only had 5% battery on her phone and what would she do if our baby took a turn for the worse in the night due to her not having her medication. She would have no way to contact anyone for help. My wife is a very strong woman mentally and in the 20 years we have been together I have never seen her like this. She was left with no food and no water and $40 in her pocket. Our insurance company at this point said they were assessing the case but until they had received our daughter medical records from our GP in the UK they could not release any funds and we would need to pay upfront and claim it back later. Prior to arriving at the hotel my wife went back on board the ship and explained this to Rowena (your Rep) and said several times that she was running out of cash and was soon to be stuck with no money. This fell on deaf ears. My wife also asked Rowena what she would do about a flight home (Insurers were not helping at this point) she was told that Thomson had no more flights until the following Sunday she may be able to get a flight with another airline but the insurance company would sort that out - although she (Rowena) was well aware, having spoken to AXA herself on our behalf that they were not opening that case until the medical records had been received and even then it was a long shot as it was a Sunday three day before Christmas. My wife was then told that Thomson would not provide any follow up assistance and Platinum worked on their behalf to ensure that guests were supported in situations such as hers. Around 20 minutes later the Platinum agent put my wife and daughter in a taxi, told the driver where they were going and disappeared!
On the morning of the 23rd she made her own way via taxi to the medical center in Barbados, where she finally received a fit to fly certificate. The remainder of her day was spent in her hotel room (She was concerned about taking our daughter out of the room while she was still poorly, the hotel was on a very busy main road, with lots of traffic and exhaust fumes. I noted there was one final flight out to Manchester before Christmas. This was with Virgin, which I duly booked online at a cost of £894. Again, nobody from Thomson contacted my wife to see if anything could be done to assist her in getting home before Christmas. By this time she was down to her last $7.She arrived home on Christmas Eve.
I am a very tolerant man, who incidentally has never made a complaint before. I also have been with Thomson on numerous occasions, to Goa, Turkey, Lanzarote etc ... However
I am utterly disgusted with the way Thomson treated my wife and baby.
Firstly to not have appropriate medicine for children when you are on a ship hours from any hospitals is appalling. I am certain that legally this should not the case. The cruise is advertised as being a family friendly holiday, but this clearly was not so.
Secondly to have a professional member of Thomson (A Doctor) mock my wife's breast feeding is not acceptable. I also think holding my babies nose so she chokes on the medicine is also unprofessional. I trust you have a complaints procedure for this.
Thomson failed us as a family on a number of occasions. There should have been a rep on the ship, a social and welfare host, who we could contact on a day to day basis. Instead we had different Thomson staff who we had to repeat everything to day after and who had no real idea of what to do in this situation.
Thirdly, if Thomson had the correct medicine on board for our baby, had liased with the taxi company on that 1st day so we didn't have to spend hours in a hot hospital with our ill baby, and had the correct equipment on the ship then I believe our daughters recovery would have been quicker, and we could have enjoyed the latter part of the cruise and travelled home together.
Finally the way that we were dealt with in Barbados at the end of the cruise is the polar opposite of what I would have expected from a company like yours. You literally took my wife and poorly child off your ship and dumped them in a filthy unsafe hotel with no bed for my child, live wires sticking out of the wall & no food or water or support 2 days before Christmas. As far as you were concerned as soon as the ship reached port, your responsibilities were over. Nobody from Thomson has contacted us since, and as I said before- if we had been relying on Thomsons help, my wife would still be there now in that hotel.
I would like an immediate letter of acknowledgement from you regarding this matter and of course ask that you compensate us in full for this holiday.
The cruise cost us £4856.02
The Package Travel Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 state that you are liable for the poor facilities which were provided, for the sub standard accommodation in which my wife was placed in Barbados and for your representatives failure to resolve my complaint whilst I was on holiday. I am therefore entitled to claim compensation from you. In addition I am also entitled to recover my out of pocket expenses and compensation for the loss of enjoyment I experienced during my holiday, primarily
1. Return flight. £894.30
I expect a satisfactory offer of compensation, within 14 days.
They basically replied with a casual brush off letter, saying they are unable to offer compensation on this occasion.
Does anyone think I wouldn't win this case in court?
Thanks for your help everybody.