Row over Titanic memorial cruise

Passengers on MS Balmoral Titanic - the memorial cruise ship. Credit: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/Press Association Images

Hundreds of passengers who took a Titanic Memorial Cruise from Southampton, to hold a memorial service over the site of the wreck, are threatening to sue the organisers in a row over fuel surcharges.

It has been revealed that passengers were charged an extra £325 each just before the cruise left.

They are demanding fifty per cent of the extra money they were forced to pay be returned to them - or they will go to court.

More than 200 have now formed an action group. The cruise was to mark the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

The group is led by passenger David Cotton who said: “What we object to is the magnitude and timing of the surcharge and the way it was calculated. We feel the timing was insensitive. Passengers have no criticism of the cruise."

Almost 950 of the 1,250 passengers received notice of a fuel surcharge of £15.50 per person per night, which equated to £325 for those booked for 21 nights.

The group has challenged the basis on which Fred Olsen Cruise Lines – whose ship Balmoral was chartered by Miles Morgan Travel – calculated the surcharge and is threatening legal action after consulting Trading Standards.

Miles Morgan Travel has acknowledged an error in the surcharge they levied and have pledged to refund £1.62 per person per night.

But David Cotton said: “We don’t think that is good enough.”

He and his partner paid £4,500 each with the surcharge adding 7% to the cruise. Miles Morgan Travel said the cruise was priced four years ago when oil was $60 a barrel. They had allowed for a 50% increase in the price but it had risen by much more.

The company said: “The case is a one-off. No one ever prices that far out. I feel sorry for the customers. But our terms and conditions are clear on fuel.

"We and Fred Olsen absorbed much of the fuel increase costs.”

The company say its terms and conditions make it clear passengers have to pay some of the additional fuel costs and added: "We don’t feel we’ve been in any way negligent.”

This report filmed in April 2012 when Balmoral Titanic set sail from Southampton to the Titanic wreck site.