A retired couple who went on a sight-seeing tour of Scotland were left fuming when they were forced to sit on a coach - for more than ten hours a day.
Derek and Julia Limbert paid £699 for the five-day trip which promised to take in “some of Britain’s most stunning natural scenery.”
But instead of enjoying the famous landmarks, they were forced to endure a staggering 62 hours sat on a coach while it crawled around the Scottish Highlands.
Tour firm Diamond Holidays claimed tourists would explore Oban, Mull, Iona and Skye, but the pensioners spent most of their holiday looking out the window.
When they did finally arrive at their destinations, they had either missed their ferries to the islands or it was too late to see anything and they were forced to turn back.
Retired secondary school teacher Derek, 74, stormed: “It was a disaster from start to finish.
“We had paid for a tour of Scotland but what we got was a tour of the inside of a coach our only visits were to go to the loo in service stations.
“I would have seen more of the Scottish Highlands if I’d stayed at home and looked the places up on the internet.”
Derek and his wife Julia, 73, set off on the trip on July 15 when they were collected from their home in Sutton Coldfield, West Mids, at 6.20am.
Derek said: “When we made the booking we didn’t realise it would involve a tour of the Midlands, Yorkshire and Tyne and Wear as well.
“We were picked up at 6.20am on the first day.
“We then had to visit Lichfield, Burton-upon-Trent, Doncaster, Huddersfield, Durham and Newcastle picking up other passengers en route to our overnight stop.
“We didn’t get to Gretna until late that night. We were then told we’d have to change coaches which took two-and-half hours to sort out. It was chaos.
“Even the itinerary did not show this nor that the time of travel to our overnight stop would be over 15 hours.”
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After finally arriving at their hotel in Stirling at 9pm, they had a quick sleep before setting off for Oban early the next morning.
Derek added: “The second day of our tour involved a journey from our hotel on the outskirts of Stirling to our hotel in Oban.
“The 80-mile journey took so long that we were not able to visit any of the sights of the town nor did we visit Lismore, which the itinerary suggested we visited.
“In fact, it took about nine-and-a-half hours. We arrived just in time to get a wash before rushing down to our evening meal.
“If that wasn’t bad enough on the third day we were supposed to make an early start
for a full-day tour around the isles of Mull and Iona, where we would visit the picturesque capital of Tobermory.
“The ‘early start’ was 11.45am - so late that on our arrival to Mull our driver told us that we would not have time to visit Tobermory.”
Their holiday went from bad to worse when a misunderstanding of the departure times for the ferry meant the coach party missed their visit to the isle of Iona.
Derek said: “We were told by a driver that the ferry to Iona was every ten minutes.
“We nipped to the toilet but when we got back on the coach we missed it and were then told the ferries were in fact every hour, which meant it was too late for us to visit the island.
“This was the main reason for choosing to go on this holiday in the first place.
“On the fourth day we actually did make it to the Isle of Skye but it took five hours winding through the narrow roads and negotiating road works so by the time we got there we had about and hour before we had to set off back again.
“We were all hungry so the group went into the nearest cafe for fish and chips and then got back on the coach for another five hour journey back to the hotel.
“Everyone understood it would be a coach tour but this was ridiculous. We barely got to see the outside of the coach at all the entire trip.
“We were absolutely appalled by the service provided and the holiday company are an utter disgrace.”
The couple finally returned home after a 16-and-a-half hour journey while the coach dropped off the other pensioners around the north of England.
Now the couple, who have two children and five grandchildren, feel their experience was “in breach of the trades description act”.
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Julia, a retired junior school teacher, said: “There was no representative from Diamond Holidays available at any time of our holiday.
“Whenever we raised an issue with the drivers we were told that it was the problem with the holiday company and not with the coach company.
“Throughout the holiday the coach drivers gave little information concerning places which we visited or about the countryside which we were passing through - hardly any commentary at all in fact.
“I feel that the whole experience begs the question as to whether the travel company had ever researched this holiday.
“Even the drivers felt that an attempt was made to cram too much into too short a period of time.
“We will never again travel with Diamond Holidays in what was a frustrating time on an ill-thought-out mystery tour.”
After several complaints made by Derek and Julia, Diamond Holidays gave the couple a mere £20 each in complimentary vouchers which Derek says is “insulting”.
Diamond Holidays were approached for comment but they said their position remains the same as in previous letters to the couple.
In one letter dated August 3, Diamond Holidays customer service advisor Sophie Hickey wrote: “I would like to reassure you that all of our trips are carefully planned to ensure that all arrangements, from transport to hotels, run as efficiently as possible.
“We hold regular operational review meetings and I will ensure that your comments are used to improve our service where possible.”