By Rory Reynolds
HUNDREDS of holidaymakers have lost up to £140,000 each after Hebridean Island Cruises – favoured by the Queen – went bust.
The Countess of Halifax and film producer Baron Puttnam are among those claiming millions after the firm went into administration.
The Queen paid £149,000 to hire the company’s 49-passenger ship for her 80th birthday in 2006.
Accountants Ernst & Young believe the compensation figure could reach £12million, £9.2million of which is customer deposits.
A London couple due to sail around the Highlands and Islands this summer on the Hebridean Princess have lost £140,000 and a businessman from Glasgow has lost £61,000.
Camila, Countess of Halifax, of the Edinburgh brewing firm William Younger, is claiming £15,196. Tory Peer Lord Clitheroe is seeking £14,630 and film producer Baron Puttnam is claiming £4,914.
Renfrewshire based hotel group Stonefield Castle are seeking £2million from the failed cruise firm.
Over 3,000 businesses are claiming £1.6million in costs for goods supplied and work done on the ships.
Creditors are hoping that Hebridean Island’s insurers will repay those who have paid for upcoming holidays.
A spokesman for Ernest & Young said: “As the operation of the cruises is now being undertaken by All Leisure Holidays, customers have been requested to confirm to the purchaser that they wish to continue to the purchaser that they wish to continue the cruise under the new operation.”
“The company no longer holds any funds in respect of customer deposits for bookings made with HIC prior to the administration of the company.”
Joanne Mackenzie-Winters, of Inverness, who is owed £17,456, hopes that she will get her money back.
She said: “Now that the administrators have contacted the creditors, I am hoping my claim will go ahead successfully and I can still go on a cruise in August.
The Hebridean Spirit was sold to a private bidder last month after making the company huge losses.
The Hebridean Princess and Hebridean Spirit have just 30 cabins and a member of staff for every passenger, and are recognised as being among the most luxurious cruise companies in the world.