HURRICANE HORROR: Chesterfield holidaymakers feared for lives on dream Cuba trip

Steve and Sharon Bartram. Picture: Jason Chadwick.
Steve and Sharon Bartram. Picture: Jason Chadwick.

A Chesterfield couple say they feared for their lives after travel giant Thomas Cook failed to move them from the path of a hurricane.

Sharon and Steve Bartram, of Nelson Street, were enjoying a dream holiday in Cuba earlier this month when they were warned about Hurricane Matthew.

After being told it was a life-threatening storm and heading their way, they begged to be moved from the Blau Costa Verde Hotel (pictured right) where they were staying.

However, Thomas Cook said the hotel was the safest place for Mr and Mrs Barnes to be in the circumstances.

Sharon, 49, said: “All the other tour operators moved their customers – even the dolphins were relocated to a safe place.

“But Thomas Cook put our lives in jeopardy and failed in their duty of care to us.

“We were just given a survival pack and told to stay in our hotel bathroom with a mattress on top of us.

“We stayed in the bathroom for more than 12 hours, not fully aware of what was going on outside, not fully aware of what was going to happen to us.

“We were scared for our lives – it was a petrifying experience.

“It turned out the hurricane missed us by three miles.”

Sharon, who works for the Mencap charity, added: “Thomas Cook should have moved us, not just left us there. What if the hurricane had changed course? We could have been coming home in body bags.”

Hurricane Matthew was a deadly and destructive hurricane from the Caribbean to the United States. It has left tens of thousands of people homeless.

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “Nothing is more important to us than the safety and wellbeing of our customers.

“We ensured that all affected hotels, including Blau Costa Verde Hotel, had a Thomas Cook rep on site and flew in extra colleagues from other Caribbean destinations where we needed to.

“Hotels in Cuba are very experienced in dealing with issues of this kind and have tried and tested hurricane procedures. As such the hotel was the safest place for Mr and Mrs Bartram to be in the circumstances.”

In a blog on the Thomas Cook website, Carol MacKenzie, group head of customer welfare, added: “Please be assured we did everything possible to ensure everyone’s safety – that’s always our highest priority.”