Thomas Cook & Son Explain – 1903

Excerpt from the New Outlook Magazine – Saturday 11th April 1903 – The Impressions of a Careless Traveler – regarding  a trip to the Crimea aboard the ship Prinzessin organised through The Cook Company – Thomas Cook as we know them today. This is Thomas Cooks reply to a travellers letter published in the New Outlook on 14th February 1903.

Thomas Cook & Son Explain

To The Editors of The Outlook – Saturday 11th April 1903:

In the very interesting article entitled “The Impressions of a Careless Traveler,”  which appeared in your issue of February 14, a statement is made which has given a somewhat widespread impression that we are quite sure the writer never intended, and, as it is calculated to injure our business, we shall be glad of an opportunity to print a word of explanation giving our side of the incident.

The writer of the article says that but very little was seen of Cook’s representative in connection with the contretemps at Yalta.  We submitted the article to our conductor who had charge of the party, and he replies: “The statement of  ‘L.A.’ is correct so far as the details are concerned.  While the party was en route from Sevastopol to Yalta a letter was sent to me by the first officer of the steamship Prinzessin Luise stating that the passengers could not embark as per programme, and this letter was sent by a lady journalist, who, being a German, immediately advised all her fellow-countrymen who were in the party.  There were fifty-two carriages, and I naturally stayed at Sevastopol until all had left, and consequently arrived at Yalta somewhat behind the party.   Immediately the letter came into my possession I stood up in one of the carriages and, by reading it aloud, did my best to let everybody know the situation, and it was doubtless owing to there being so many carriages bunched together, and the attendant bustle and noise, that ‘L.A.’ failed to get the news correctly, and it was that which led to his going to the unsatisfactory hotel he describes in his article instead of a much better one, the Hotel de Russie, which I recommended, and to which, in company with many of the party, I subsequently went.”

The whole trouble arose through what maybe fairly described as “an act of God,” that is to say, it was raining, the wind was blowing hard, and it raised such a high sea that the captain and officers very properly decided that it would not be quite safe to embark the passengers until the weather moderated.  No responsible, reliable, or well-managed firm or company, except through an insurance policy, will make a contract providing against what is usually described all over the world as “an act of God,” and in all our public announcements everywhere, including the pamphlet describing the excursion from Sevastopol to Yalta, there will be found in a prominent position the following paragraph, and of course “L.A.” and everybody else on the boat were booked subject thereto:

Thomas Cook & Son are not responsible for loss of time or money consequent on the irregularity of steamship or railroad service, sickness, or any calamity or hindrance caused by circumstances over which they have no control;  and should delays or alterations occur through such causes, the passengers will have to pay any additional expenses for living and accommodation in hotels or on steamers which may be incurred beyond specified period. 

The liability of roads and railroads in the neighborhood of mountains to damage from storms and other influences beyond human control renders it necessary that we should announce that we cannot be responsible for detention or expenses incurred by deviation of routes occasioned by circumstances of this nature, nor for delays or deviation that may be caused through the railways being required for military purposes.  The most that companies will do under such circumstances is to repay the value of any ticket, or proportions of ticket not used for lines thus rendered impassable; and all claims in such cases must be sent in writing, accompanied by the unused tickets, within one month from the date for which such tickets were available.

At that season of the year the weather conditions are usually such that landings and embarkations can be freely made without difficulty, delay, or danger, and it was not an unreasonable thing to expect that the programme would be carried out in its entirety without change.  With regard to the possible refund on account of the party being unable to take the drive and a lunch on the third day, the weather conditions made this impossible, and, as that was no fault of ours and the carriages and lunch were all contracted, provided, and had to be paid for, we submit that it is not reasonable that we should be expected to lose a considerable sum of money on account of circumstances over which we could have absolutely no control. The whole arrangements for landing and embarkation in the Black Sea were entirely under the control of the captains and officers of the Prinzessin, and the boats required therefore were furnished by the owners of the vessel.

THOMAS COOK & SON,

per GEORGE EADE, Manager

Excerpt from The New Outlook Volume 73 1903 by Alfred Emanuel Smith