Cruise soured by Swiss folk music

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The Independent Online
YOU HAVE heard of no-snow discounts on skiing holidays, and rainy-day discounts in resorts where the sun is always supposed to shine. Now, welcome to a new concept: discounts for holidays with too much yodelling.

This innovative departure comes to you courtesy of the Frankfurt District Court which, in a judgment made public yesterday, decreed that an excess of alpenhorns, yodelling and similar music-making is a legitimate reason for holidaymakers to demand their money back.

A German couple had been on a two-week cruise to the 'Pearls of the Caribbean'. They expected to be treated to a few rumbas and salsas, perhaps mingled with a sedate waltz or two. They were badly disappointed.

On arriving on board, the couple discovered 500 of the 600 fellow passengers were members of the Swiss Union of the Friends of Folk Music, who were not only in full voice but had with them a variety of musical instruments. The 500 were keen on doing the kind of things members of the Swiss Union of the Friends of Folk Music like to do.

Groups such as the Lisbeth Sidler-Fritz Arnet Yodelling Duet and the Village Sparrows of Oberageri serenaded all passengers, including the less than enthusiastic. The Swiss brass band drowned out even the sounds of the Latin American midnight buffet, promised in the brochure, the court was told.

Day after day the couple, who had spent pounds 3,000 for their dream fortnight in the sun in October 1991, found themselves listening to Swiss brass bands. There was no escape. The bands, the court judgments said, plagued them 'from early till late', wherever they went on the ship.

The court took a dim view of the mental torture, and argued that the possibility of non-stop Swiss folk music was not something a holidaymaker planning to float around the Caribbean could reasonably expect. It added that entertainment on a cruiser has 'considerable significance' for the success of the holiday.

Finally the German couple had something to sing about - the Frankfurt tour organiser was ordered to give them 30 per cent of their money back.

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