Void Covid test cost us our Caribbean holiday | Travel

✉ I bought a PCR test from Prenetics, which guaranteed results within 24 hours. My partner got his test results at about 3pm the day before we were scheduled to leave for Tobago. As mine had not arrived within a couple of hours of that, I called the company and was told the result should be with me by 6pm. I heard nothing and chased again that evening via email because the phone line was closed. I received an email the following morning suggesting that my test was void, so I couldn’t travel. Had I received this information within the timeframe I could have sought an alternative test and recovered the situation. I have had the price of the test refunded, but I lost £ 800 in hotel costs and my partner and I lost our dream holiday.
Lindsey Brummitt

Unfortunately void PCR tests or results not arriving in time for your trip is not something that’s typically covered by travel insurance, and test providers are generally not liable for lost costs. But when I sent Prenetics details of your case it decided to pay you £ 800. “Prenetics provides hundreds of thousands of PCR tests a year and apologises for the very small number (under 1 per cent) of such tests which do not deliver a defining result,” it said. “We acknowledge that our fast-track processes to recover such a test outcome might have been quicker and have agreed to pay the client their lost costs in full.”

The aurora over Kirkjufell in Iceland

The aurora over Kirkjufell in Iceland


✉ I’d like to take my daughters to Iceland this summer, but one of them is against flying when there is a feasible alternative. Is a train to Denmark and a ferry our only option?
Clare Wainwright

The upside of taking the 47-hour journey on Smyril Line’s ferry from Hirtshals in northern Denmark to Seydisfjordur on Iceland’s east coast is a lower carbon footprint. The downside? It’s eye-wateringly expensive compared with a flight. Gatwick to Reykjavik in August costs about £ 200 return with Icelandair; a summer return crossing for three with Smyril is about £ 1,690, and that’s not in a “luxury” cabin or including food. Of course you need to add the rail fare and a night in a hotel en route to Hirtshals. Other factors to consider? Seasickness on the voyage via the Faroes is a possibility (this is the North Atlantic), wi-fi costs extra and when you get to Iceland there’s an 11-hour bus journey or nine-hour drive from the east of the island to Reykjavik.

If you were hoping for a cruise alternative, be aware that, while it does vary between ships, the carbon footprint is comparable to flying. In any case most cruises offer only a few stops in Iceland as part of a wider itinerary. The best is P & O’s cruise from Southampton in July, and that’s sold out; next summer a 14-night trip on Aurora starts at £ 1,399pp (pocruises.com).

One compromise might be to take the shorter flight with Atlantic Airways from Edinburgh to the Faroes and do the rest of the journey by ferry. But you might decide that it would be easier to fly and make a generous contribution to a respected carbon-offsetting scheme (goldstandard.org). Or go somewhere else?

A fishing village on Madeira

A fishing village on Madeira


✉ I’m scheduled to travel to Madeira with Jet2 on October 10, returning on October 17. My passport was issued on May 31, 2012, and expires on February 28 next year. The gov.uk website states that I can travel because my passport will have three months’ validity from my exit date. However, I’m no longer sure I can go because I had extra months added to my passport when I renewed it early last time. Can you clarify? I don’t want to renew my passport unless I have to do so. If I do, when should I apply?
Kate Barns

You do need three months’ validity on your passport from the date you leave the EU, but the other crucial detail for determining whether you can travel is the issue date. If it’s more than ten years old when you plan to travel the passport is invalid. So you will have to renew for your October trip and, with the Passport Office in meltdown, it’s difficult to suggest the right time to apply. You might want to wait until the end of May, when more processing staff should have been hired. But even now you could be lucky, with some applicants reporting that they have had new passports issued within a few weeks.

✉ We’re planning a trip to Germany and Austria in our motorhome in June. Is it correct that to enter these countries your most recent jab can be no more than 270 days old? I had my third jab in September and am not yet eligible for another booster. It may be possible to get a PCR test en route, but I don’t know who to approach for this. Can you advise?
Jean Longshaw

You’ll have no problem getting into Germany – only two vaccinations are required until September 30 (from October the requirement is three jabs or a second not more than 270 days old). But Austria still insists that boosters be less than nine months old. The Austrian Tourist Board in London has, however, flagged this problem with its government and the rule should have changed by June. If it hasn’t, get an antigen test from a pharmacy in the 24 hours before you cross the border. They are cheaper than PCR tests and results should be quicker.

The Adler Spa Resort Dolomiti in Italy

The Adler Spa Resort Dolomiti in Italy

✉ My mother has limited mobility and has suggested a spa holiday with me. She would like to go somewhere in Europe where there are steam rooms and a hot tub. We also need decent food and temperatures in the low twenties. We don’t want to spend more than £ 5,000 for the week, including a daily treatment, meals and single rooms. Can you suggest somewhere stylish?
Alexandra Hobbs

I don’t think your mother will be disappointed by the Adler Spa Resort Dolomiti in the South Tyrol region of Italy. Standing in the middle of the cute Alpine town of Ortisei and surrounded by the spectacularly jagged Dolomites, it could hardly be a more scenic spot. The spa is huge and free for guests, with thermal pools, saunas, Turkish baths, salt grottoes and hot tubs. The food is excellent and portions generous. Although half-board is offered and includes a five-course dinner, there’s also an afternoon snack buffet. A week in a single room including half-board, flights from Gatwick and transfers from Verona costs £ 1,799pp on June 11, when the weather should be pleasantly warm in Ortisei (inghams.co.uk). This will leave you plenty of cash for treatments; a package of four lasting 50 minutes each costs £ 278 and they should be booked in advance.

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