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Gay couple heartbroken after their honeymoon cruise is ruined by ‘nightmare’ staff who ‘pointed and laughed at’ them

Emma Powys Maurice December 18, 2019
Honeymoon cruise

Newlyweds Dan and Chance Walton-Ashmore, both 25, say they were made to feel like a "laughing stock" (Twitter/@AshmoreWalton)

A newlywed gay couple say they are ‘heartbroken’ after staff on their honeymoon cruise openly mocked them by pointing and laughing when they danced together.

They further accuse the ship‘s staff of refusing to take photos of them together or provide them with a double bed, which they had to ask for five times.

Chance and Dan Walton-Ashmore, from Duffield in Derbyshire, were appalled at the treatment after spending £3,000 on the 11-day south east Asia cruise. NHS worker Dan branded travel operator TUI a “disgrace” on social media.

“Heartbroken at this cruise. We have received so much homophobic abuse from TUI staff on board the Marella Discovery,” he wrote. “We want to come home. TUI are a disgrace!”

Speaking to the Mirror while still onboard the ship, he explained: “Initially, it was that they refused to provide a double bed rather than the two singles we were given, even though the booking did state it was our honeymoon.

“When we requested this to be completed at reception five times they simply pointed and laughed at us. I had to push them together myself for it to be done.”

When they tried to complain they were quickly dismissed, with Dan reportedly being told by a member of staff: “I find it hard to believe as I’m the minority on this ship as a heterosexual woman, not you.”

The Marella Discovery (TUI.co.uk)

But the couple insist that they were singled out for abuse. Dan continued: “We are being treated differently from the bar staff and in some cases not being served at all and feeling like we are invisible.

“We have danced with each other and noticed bar staff laughing and also pointing at us. Passengers have witnessed this happening and have all been really supportive.”

The couple felt further animosity from staff after raising concerns about the onboard entertainment, which included a problematic performance.

“A member of staff has just been sat behind us slagging us off after we raised concerns about racist and transphobic jokes which were not appropriate,” Dan noted.

After seeing the social media post TUI tried to make amends by offering them champagne, strawberries and a free meal in the a la carte restaurant. But the couple say it doesn’t make up for being made to feel like “a laughing stock” by the cruise staff.

We do not feel safe on board or comfortable enough to be the honeymoon couple we should be able to be.

Chance said: “This whole experience has been horrible. This should [have] been the trip of a lifetime and has turned out to be a nightmare. I didn’t think in 2019 we would be facing this kind of prejudice from an established company.

“We only have a few days left but it has really ruined our honeymoon and we do not feel safe on board or comfortable enough to be the honeymoon couple we should be able to be.”

He added: “We really want to stress that it is the minority of the staff on board not the majority.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for TUI told the Mirror: “We’re very concerned to hear of the Walton-Ashmore party’s experience onboard Marella Discovery and we take claims of this nature very seriously. We are currently investigating this internally.

“Our team onboard are doing everything possible to address the customers’ concerns and give them the best possible experience on their holiday.”

 

 

More: cruise, honeymoon, LGBT travel, LGBT travellers, same-sex couple, tui

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