Hurricane Ike nightmare of holiday pair
AN ASHFORD couple who say they had to endure the “holiday from hell” are fighting for compensation from their holiday company.
David and Jean Warton from Friesian Way, Kennington, claim that First Choice holidays failed to warn them of anticipated danger of an approaching hurricane on their dream holiday to Cuba.
They were booked with another couple of friends from Cliftonville to return to the holiday paradise hotel they had enjoyed two years previously.
But when the quartet arrived they discovered other holiday companies had pulled out customers as the Cuban government had issued damage danger warnings as the island awaited the arrival of Hurricane Ike.
Despite protests they were told to prepare for the worst by staying in their rooms and barricading the windows with mattresses.
Mr Warton, 70, said: “It was a nightmare and we were just told we would have to ride out the storm for however long it lasted.
“It was horrific with 120mph gales gusting to 180mph that ripped up all the palm trees and tiles. Roof timbers were flying like arrows and leaving the building pock-marked as if it was a war zone.
“We were frightened and suffered for days until the Cuban army arrived and we eventually got out.” Now Mr Warton has lodged a complaint with First Direct where he booked the allinclusive holiday with premium flight seats at £1,500 each.
But the holiday company has dismissed Mr Warton’s claims saying it did everything possible to evacuate holidaymakers as the hurricane approached.
Mr Warton said: “After the Cuban government issued a red alert other companies moved people out to alternative destinations like the Dominican Republic.
“We realise that this was an act of God, but they could have made alternative arrangements. All they seem prepared to do is offer compensation for the four days that we missed of our holiday as it was cut short and we were brought home.”
First Choice spokeswoman Grace Jones said: “Throughout the duration of Hurricane Ike, the safety of customers and staff was of paramount importance and our resort teams did everything in their power to ensure the wellbeing of our customers.
“The predicted path of Hurricane Ike was tracked for a number of days. As soon as the tracking of the hurricane indicated it was to travel towards Cuba, the Cuban authorities activated hurricane procedures, but unfortunately in this instance it was not possible to evacuate by air in time.
“Of all the resort areas in Cuba, the Holguin region was the most affected by the hurricane. All customers holidaying in this area were flown out on rescue flights.
“As with all tour operators in this situation, First Choice’s terms and conditions state no obligation to provide compensation if changes made to a holiday are due to a ‘Force Majeure’.
“However, as some customers had to curtail their holiday in Cuba to return home, First Choice took the decision to provide them with a refund for prorata, missed nights’ accommodation as a gesture of goodwill.”
David and Jean Warton who were caught in Hurricane Ike while on holiday in Cuba