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No stiff upper lip for British couple aboard luxury liner

'Exhausted and inconsolable' after cruise and trip to Hawaii, two sue and win $36,000

'Exhausted and inconsolable' after cruise and trip to Hawaii, two sue and win $36,000

December 09, 2009|By TIM ROWLAND

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This is the break I've been looking for: You can sue for being "disappointed."

Sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip. It began when a British couple booked a $100,000 journey around the world aboard the Queen Victoria luxury liner.

No shipwreck or desert island was involved, but the couple was assigned a room where the floor flexed excessively, causing an "unbearable racket," according to the London Daily Mail.

So the couple was moved to a penthouse suite (complete with a butler) but they said they "couldn't relax" because there was a chance that another party had booked the room and might be showing up later in the excursion.

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So they were transferred to a mid-range room, but they said it "didn't feel right." Finally, feeling like "gypsies," they left the cruise in Hawaii, where they stayed for six weeks in a luxury hotel, which they were unable to enjoy because they were "exhausted and inconsolable."

Now at this point in the story, you know what an American couple would do. They would sue.

But we Americans are made of sterner stuff than Europeans, who can't always be counted upon to seek a financial settlement in court for the smallest of trifles.

Happily, though, this particular couple was up to snuff. They went to court. Although the cruise line refunded $80,000 for the unused portion of the trip, they went to court. And they won $36,000, on the grounds of "distress and disappointment."

The judgment included about $6,000 for 21 evening gowns that the woman can no longer wear because "they are an unwelcome reminder of the horror."

I can relate. I have a Baltimore Orioles hat that makes me feel the same way.

Speaking of which, this should be a shot across the bow, so to speak, to all losing sports franchises. I was pretty disappointed in the Vikings' performance against the Cardinals on Sunday -- someone subpoena head coach Brad Childress for me.

I suppose if you lay out 100 grand on a vacation, you expect everything to be perfect, although in my experience, the higher the expectations the greater the risk of disappointment -- to choose another aquatic analogy, I would reference the movie "Titanic," where it took the boat about three hours longer to sink in the film than it did in real life.

But still you can only breathe a sigh of relief that this couple didn't find a hair in their pâté, or they might have been awarded controlling interest in Cunard.

I suppose there are two ways to go through life. You can expect the best in everything, only to be cruelly let down at every turn. Or you can expect everything to result in severe disappointment, to the point that if you only suffer mild disappointment it actually feels like a pleasant surprise.

Neither sounds like a terribly pleasant alternative. That's why I try to stay neutral: Optimistic, but suspicious. In this scenario, a person who is assigned a noisy stateroom does not sue -- he simply sleeps in the bar.

This couple would indicate that it pays to be an optimist. Only the sunniest of optimists could be disappointed in a world cruise and a six-week Hawaiian side trip.

So were I the judge, I might have awarded them the money too, out of pity. And then sentenced them to spend the rest of their lives in a Motel 6.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video at www.herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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