The couple was thrown off the ship in Helsinki after the captain accused Ms. Chan of the 65-year-old man of pushing a member of the crew two days earlier during a brawl in St Petersburg, Russia.
With great expectations, Elaine Chan and her husband jump on board the Holland America Zuiderdam ship for a 24-day vacation.
At first, it seemed like a dream come true. But on day five, it went horribly wrong.
The couple was thrown off the ship in Helsinki after the captain accused Ms. Chan of the 65-year-old man, who does not want his name known — of pushing a member of the crew two days earlier during a brawl in St Petersburg, Russia.
Now back on dry land, the shy cruise-goers are started in a heated battle with the Holland-America to clear their names and obtain a refund. They vehemently deny being involved in the incident and claim that the company has made an error.
“I promise that this story will make you angry,” said the non-profit consumer rights group, Elliott Advocacy is Michelle Bank Friedman, who broke the story after being approached by the couple.
“It is still a troubling case of a company, leveling a wild accusation at a customer and refusing to even a shred of evidence for. And it is the consumer that pays the price — financially and emotionally.”
Mrs. Chan told Elliott Advocacy that it was around 8 o’clock in the morning on day five of their cruise as the captain called them to his office to discuss an incident in which a number of passengers had been verbally abusive in the direction of the crew.
“I promise that this story will make you angry.”
– Michelle Bank-Friedman
They had pushed an employee, and Mrs Chan, the man had been the perpetrator.
Bizarrely, the battle had taken place, two days ago, so why did it take so long to mention it?
Despite their denials, the duo was told to get their stuff together and were handed over tickets back to San Francisco. Ms. Chan said that they were surprised and had no time to make their arguments well.
“We did not expect that our long-awaited vacation to end up as a nightmare in complete humiliation,” Mrs Chan says.
“We were the kick-off for the cruise of the Holland America captain in Helsinki. He forced us to leave the cruise by 10 am to catch our flight. If we are not on time, he said, we would miss our flight.”
They said on the day of the alleged assault, she had noticed a group of angry passengers standing nearby. The group had become disturbing because they were forced to wait to disembark the ship for shore excursions, with Mrs. Chan noticed one of the men push past members of the crew.
However, they insist that they were not part of the disruptive group.
“My husband did not do this. Someone made a mistake, and him, incorrectly. This false accusation has really taken a toll on him.”
– Elaine Chan
Mrs. Chan asked Eliott.org if they are truly the kick-off for a cruise without proof or a chance to respond?
“My husband did not do this. Someone made a mistake, and him, incorrectly. This false accusation has really taken a toll on him,” she said.
They wrote to the cruise company begging for them to review video cameras on board of the ship, in the hope that material might turn out that it was just a mistake. However, all they got was this answer, in which the allegations again:
“Your husband has participated in a scene where the employees were verbally abused. This abuse was physical when he and another guest tried to push their way out of the ship in the port of St. Petersburg.
“As a result, a member of the medical care needed. As indicated by the captain in your oral interview and in our previous correspondence, this is a violation of article 4 of the Cruise Contract, and so the decision was made to remove both parties from the ship in the next port of call (Helsinki).”
They also offered to provide photos of themselves on the day of the incident in the hope that they can be compared with photos of the offender. No luck. In a last-ditch attempt at a resolution, they have even agreed to a lie detector test at his own cost. Still no luck.
Holland America has allegedly still failed to provide any evidence in support of her claim, the statement, “While we regret that this last reaction could not be more favourable, we hope that you will remain part of the Holland-America Line in your travel plans.
“Thank you again for your request. I appreciate this opportunity to help you and hope that you will sail with us again soon.”
But this answer was puzzling to Mrs. Bank-Friedman. Something does not add up, and they told the news.com.au. If the cruise line really believed that he was attacked crew, why would they want them back on board?
In a statement on the news.com.au, a spokeswoman for the Holland-America Line, said: “The safety, the comfort and the safety of our guests and staff of Holland America Line with the highest priority.
“In rare cases when inappropriate behavior of the guest is inconsistent with the terms of their cruise contract, including failure to follow the orders of the ship’s officers or the making of offensive physical contact with the crew, the guests disembarked from the ship.”
This article originally appeared on the news.com.au.