HAMPSHIRE cruise passengers are furious after being charged twice for the same holiday – resulting in thousands of pounds disappearing from their bank account.
The booking blunder came to light after customers complained about the double payment.
Carnival said the error had been made by an outside company that processes payments for the cruise line. It is refusing to say how many people have been affected or how much money is involved.
Victims include David Childs, of Romsey, who is going on a voyage on the Cunard vessel Queen Elizabeth to celebrate his 60th birthday.
He has now urged other customers who may not know of the mistake to check their bank accounts.
Chartered surveyor Mr Childs said: “We paid a deposit in January and the balance in March.
“I got an e-mail on Saturday saying a systems error involving a third party had mistakenly resulted in duplicate payments being made.
“Some £2,100 has already disappeared from my bank account and there’s a possibility the rest of the money – £4,400 – could be taken as well.
“I woke up yesterday with a low bank balance and had to move money around to make sure I didn’t go overdrawn.
“I could understand duplicate amounts being taken on the same day if someone accidentally pushed the button twice, but for this to happen two months after I paid the first time is bizarre.
“Cunard were very apologetic but there wasn’t a lot of substance in what they told me.
“They couldn’t say when they would refund the £2,100 and couldn’t give me an assurance that the £4,400 wouldn’t be debited from my account.
“I was lucky – I could move money around – but for some people this could be very distressing.
“Cunard won’t say how many people have been affected although the woman I spoke said ‘a lot’. I take that to mean hundreds, possibly thousands.”
Mr Childs, 60, and members of his family are going on a five-night cruise up the Norwegian fjords at the end of next month.
He said: “This is supposed to be my introduction to cruising with Cunard. I hope the holiday turns out to be better than the experience I’ve had so far.”
A statement on Cunard’s website says: “We have been made aware of an issue with a number of card transactions due to an error by the third party card payment processor.
“The payment processor has reversed all transactions and is working with the various banks to resolve this matter.
“This is not as a result of a security breach and at no time has any personal information been compromised.
“We will be contacting affected guests and in the meantime we would like to apologise sincerely for any inconvenience caused.”
A Carnival UK spokesman added: “On Friday we were made aware of a one-off technical error made by Elavon, our third party payment processor, in relation to card payments for cruise bookings with Cunard, P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises.
“Refunds are already being processed and we are working with Elavon at the highest level to investigate how this happened and to ensure it could not happen again.
“Any charges incurred by guests as a result of this issue will be refunded. Once again we apologise to those who were affected.”