Thu, 9 Aug, 2018
“Humiliated” couple kicked off cruise over false accusation
Americans Elaine Chan and her husband were on their dream cruise holiday when a few days in it all went horribly wrong.
Five days in to a 24-day cruise on-board Holland America’s Zuiderdam, the couple were thrown off the ship in Helsinki.
The captain accused Ms Chan’s 65-year-old husband, who does not want his name disclosed, of pushing a crew member two days earlier during a brawl in St Petersburg, Russia.
The humiliated cruise-goers have launched a battle with Holland America to clear their names and obtain a refund. They deny being involved in the fight and claim the cruise company made a mistake.
“I promise this story will make you angry,” said non-profit consumer rights group Elliott Advocacy’s Michelle Couch-Friedman, who was approached by the couple.
“It’s yet another troubling case of a company levelling a wild accusation at a customer and refusing to provide even a shred of evidence to support it. And it’s the consumer who pays the price – financially and emotionally.”
Ms Chan told Elliott Advocacy that they were called into the captain’s office during day five of their cruise to discuss an incident two days prior where several passengers had been verbally abusive towards the crew. A passenger who pushed an employee had been identified as Mr Chan’s husband.
The couple were told to pack their belonging and handed tickets back to San Francisco
“We did not expect our highly anticipated vacation to end as a nightmare in complete humiliation,” Ms Chan said.
“We were kicked off the cruise by the Holland America captain in Helsinki. He forced us to leave the cruise by 10am to catch our flight. If we did not leave on time, he said we would miss our flight.”
Ms Chan asked Eliott.org if cruise companies can kick someone off a cruise without evidence or giving passengers a chance to respond.
“My husband didn’t do this. Someone made a mistake and misidentified him. This false accusation has really taken a toll on him,” she said.
Ms Chan said they wrote to Holland America asking to review video cameras on-board the ship as they hoped footage would prove there was an error.
However, all they received was this response outlining the allegations again: “Your husband participated in a scene where staff members were verbally abused. This abuse became physical when he and another guest attempted to push their way off the ship in port at St. Petersburg.
“As a result, a staff member required medical attention. As stated by the captain in your verbal interview and in our previous correspondence, this is a violation of Section 4 of the Cruise Contract, and so the decision was made to remove both parties from the ship at the next port of call (Helsinki).”
The Chan family also offered to provide photos of themselves on the day of the incident, hoping the photos could be compared with photos of the perpetrator. They even said they would take a lie-detector test at their own expense to clear their name. But all to no avail.
Holland America has allegedly still not provided any evidence to support its claim, stating simply: “While we regret that this final response could not be more favourable, we do hope you will continue to include Holland America Line in your travel plans.
“Thank you again for your inquiry. I appreciate this opportunity to assist and hope you will sail with us again soon.”