LAST October, E W Weston, of Manchester, booked a short cruise with a company called Hebridean Island Cruises of Skipton. 'On 31 December they sent me a letter saying that under 'Article 7' of the EC directive on package travel, they would be charging me a further pounds 38.50 for the cost involved.'

A note was later received from the company explaining that to meet the directive's requirements, it was undertaking to keep customers' money in a separate account until the cruise had been completed.

'Regrettably, we have incurred various costs researching and implementing the implications of the directive and these will have to be borne by guests at the rate of pounds 68 per person per week and pro rata on longer and shorter cruises.' E W Weston understandably wonders whether this increase is genuine 'or are they just trying it on?'.

Tony Binns, managing director of Hebridean Island Cruises, says that his company is perfectly justified in passing on the charge: 'The EC directive is costing us pounds 100,000 a year in additional expenses.'