A GAY couple have accused TUI of ruining their honeymoon after they suffered homophobic abuse from cruise ship staff.
Dan and Chance Walton-Ashmore are on a south-east Asia cruise aboard the Marella Discovery to celebrate their union last December.
But the couple, both 25, from Duffield, Derbyshire, say they are “heartbroken” after being ignored and openly ridiculed by staff because of their sexuality.
Dan, an NHS worker, and Chance, an interpreter for the deaf, paid in the region of £3,000 for the trip.
But Dan posted on social media on Saturday from the ship: “Heartbroken at this cruise.
“We have received so much homophobic abuse from TUI staff on board the Marella Discovery.
“We want to come home. TUI are a disgrace!”
He said today: “Initially it was that they refused to provide a double bed rather than the two singles we were given, even though the booking did state it was our honeymoon.
“When we requested this to be completed at reception five times they simply pointed and laughed at us. I had to push them together myself for it to be done.”
According to Dan, when they complained they were told by a member of staff: “I find it hard to believe as I’m the minority on this ship as a heterosexual-women, not you.”
The couple have also noticed bar staff laughing and pointing at them as they danced.
Dan said: “We are being treated differently from the bar staff and in some cases not being served at all and feeling like we are invisible.
“We have danced with each other and noticed bar staff laughing and also pointing at us. Passengers have witnessed this happening and have all been really supportive.”
Dan also alleges that staff have refused to take pictures of them together despite being only too happen to photograph heterosexual couples.
“We had to have a private photo shoot in their studio away from other guests which was brilliant but those pictures had to be paid for,” he said.
The two have also slammed the entertainment on stage, which they have described as “racist and transphobic.”
Dan said: “A member of staff has just been sat behind us slagging us off after we raised concerns about racist and transphobic jokes which were not appropriate.”
TUI, having seen the couple’s posts, have tried to make amends by giving them champagne, strawberries and a free meal in the a la carte restaurant, said Dan.
He added: “This is not good enough and is in no way a sufficient apology and does not make up for the 11 days that we have been through.
“We have the support of passengers on board and people back at home. We just want to come home now as we are a laughing stock for the TUI staff on board!”
Lorraine Tipper responded online: “Disgraceful. I’m sorry your holiday has been ruined by narrow minded idiots. Don’t let them get away with it!”
Laurence Burrows commented: “That’s so unfair. You paid a lot for your honeymoon cruise. Disgraceful.”
Debbie Poulson posted: “Bless you both!! This is really upsetting to read. You’re an amazing couple please don’t stoop to the level of others.”
Ruth Marriott also said: “Dan, you and Chance are such a great couple. Approach this situation with dignity you will never change the mind set of bigots. Just know that this is the minority, not the majority. Hold your heads high.”
Speaking today, Chance said: “This whole experience has been horrible. This should of been the trip of a lifetime and has turned out to be a nightmare. I didn’t think in 2019 we would be facing this kind of prejudice from an established company.
“We really want to stress that it is the minority of the staff on board not the majority.
“We only have a few days left but it has really ruined our honeymoon and we do not feel safe on board or comfortable enough to be the honeymoon couple we should be able to be.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for TUI said: “We’re very concerned to hear of the Walton-Ashmore party’s experience onboard Marella Discovery and we take claims of this nature very seriously. We are currently investigating this internally.
“Our team onboard are doing everything possible to address the customers’ concerns and give them the best possible experience on their holiday.”