“Can we take out repatriation insurance in the event of death abroad? | Travel
✉ My wife and I are in our 60s and suffer from some of the conditions that people have at our age. We visit France regularly and insurance cover for our relatively minor conditions is becoming more and more expensive. We are happy to try our luck with the Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), but if one or both of us were to die abroad, I don’t think the GHIC covers repatriation. Do you know an insurance company that offers repatriation insurance only?
An insurance broker told me that no UK-based travel insurance company offers repatriation only, and although there are plans aimed at expats, these are not cheap: the annual cost for two 75 year old UK nationals traveling to and from France is £780 with internationalsos.com, for example. So it makes sense to have an annual multi-trip policy in the UK, like PJ Hayman’s FreeSpirit scheme. For the same ages and with minor medical conditions, a typical quote would be £350 for ‘Super’ cover with a 32 day travel limit (freespirittravelinsurance.com).
✉ My husband and I are avid swimmers and love ancient history, so when the Times recently published an inspiring article about swimming in the Hellespont, we decided to give it a shot. But we are based in Brisbane Australia and have no idea about Turkey travel. It seems that there were once guided swimming tours, as well as visits to places like the Grand Bazaar, the Blue Mosque, Troy and Gallipoli. Maybe Covid has closed these tours because we can’t find them anymore. Can you help ?
Robyn and Scott Emerson
This epic two and a half mile open water swim between Europe and Asia, first officially completed by Lord Byron in 1810, begins in Canakkale in northwestern Turkey. If you want to take part in the annual Hellespont “Victory Day” race at the end of August next year – when the Dardanelles Strait, one of the busiest shipping lanes in the world, is closed – you will need to book through Swim Trek, which is the sole provider of all race seats for non-Turkish residents. It offers a four-night package that includes race registration, B&B, tours of Istanbul, Gallipoli and Troy and post-race dinner, but flights are extra. You must have a “good understanding” of open water swimming and be able to handle choppy water and currents. Pricing is not yet available, so sign up for his mailing list (swimtrek.com).
The Blue Mosque in Istanbul
✉ I booked a five day holiday to Shearings for my husband and I, staying at the St George’s Hotel in Harrogate in August for the Gilbert & Sullivan Festival. About a week before departure we were told that the hotel had been changed to the Mercure Hotel in Bradford Bankfield, about 20 miles away. We saw this as a significant change which we were not happy with (it would have meant a lot more coach travel, with no opportunity to explore Harrogate during the day) so we canceled and asked for the full refund which we thought we had right in the conditions. I was told the company had the right to change hotels and had only been reimbursed 10% of the cost of the holiday, but as a gesture of goodwill I was also offered £75 each. I don’t have the means or the inclination to challenge this in court, but what is an “insignificant” change? How far can the alternative hotel be?
Tour operators are obliged to offer refunds if there has been a material change to a travel package after booking, but unfortunately there is no definition of what a material change is. Shearings explained that his hotel booking was canceled after the change in ownership, the closest accommodation he could get was in Bradford Bankfield and the only alternative was to cancel the tour for all passengers . But he now accepts it was a big change for you and has arranged a full refund of £998, plus the goodwill gesture of £150.
✉ I am planning to take my 13 year old niece to London for the weekend and I want to stay out of the shops as much as possible. Can you suggest anything she might enjoy and where we could find a good afternoon tea?
Take her to Frameless, the massive new digital art gallery that has just opened in Marble Arch Place (on the site of the former Odeon cinema). It’s a fabulously immersive and interactive take on fine art designed to appeal to the Instagram generation, using the latest projection technology and with specially composed music to add to the experience. Masterpieces come to life, so you can stroll through Monet’s water lilies, feel like you’ve been thrown into crashing oceans in Rembrandt The Storm on the Sea of Galilee and be scared of Munch The Scream. Tickets start at £25 for adults and £15 for children aged 5-17, and then there’s tea and coffee cakes (frameless.com). But if you’re looking for the full afternoon tea experience, the fashion-themed Prêt-a-Porte at the Berkeley, with pastries inspired by the latest catwalk designs, should impress (£75 pp; the -berkeley.co.uk).
✉ In September 2020, we were to travel with Sunshine Holidays for two weeks in Jamaica. Two weeks before the trip Jamaica was redlisted for Covid and we contacted Sunshine to cancel the vacation. But on the date we were supposed to leave, Sunshine called us and asked why we hadn’t caught our flight. They then said they would reimburse hotel accommodation (which they did) but we had to wait for flight vouchers with BA worth over £1100. Since then, despite numerous attempts, we have not been able to reach Sunshine and it goes without saying that no one has ever called us back. We tried to call BA but they said there was nothing they could do and we had to go through the holiday company. Can you help ?
Sunshine said government travel guidelines do not require airlines to cancel flights to Jamaica so the flight went as planned and you were told that although BA would not issue a refund , this would give a credit that could be used with a new BA flight booking. It’s ridiculous that you haven’t managed to get in touch with the company in two years, but your experience backs up recent research showing that the travel industry has the second-worst reputation for customer service, just behind services. public. Following my involvement you can now book another trip. “We are sorry that Miss Dolman has since had difficulty contacting us. We will be contacting her directly to help her book her BA flights,” a Sunshine spokesperson said.
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