A NEWLYWED couple were left devastated when their "trip of a lifetime" honeymoon turned into a disaster.
Miranda Molloy and Paul Dowling had wanted a "no-expense-spared honeymoon", a dream start to married life, which they would remember for the rest of their days.
They told a court that they had saved for the dream holiday.
But instead of enjoying luxury accommodation, they were forced to sleep in jackets and tracksuits for three nights just to keep warm on their €5,700 three-week "trip of a lifetime" to South Africa.
Former bank official Ms Molloy told Judge Jacqueline Linnane in the Circuit Civil Court that she and Mr Dowling had been left devastated.
She said the tent they had been given on a safari had been a luxury compared to the dark, dirty, damp chalet rooms provided for them.
Barrister Daithi MacCarthaigh told the court that Ms Molloy and Mr Dowling, a plumber, of Riverside Road, Clonshaugh, Dublin, had stipulated five-star accommodation everywhere they would visit on their 2009 honeymoon.
Ms Molloy said they had told the girls at Panther Associates Limited, which trades as Tour America in Middle Abbey Street, Dublin, that no expense was to be spared.
Panther Associates denied they had breached their contract with the pair or had been negligent in their arrangements.
The trip had clashed with the Lions rugby tour of South Africa and almost every hotel in and around Cape Town had been booked out.
Their damages claim was settled for an undisclosed sum.
The couple, who have not travelled abroad since, said after yesterday's verdict they were now able to "move on" with their lives.
"This has been hanging over us for the last three years; it's been unbelievably stressful for us. The most difficult period was during the honeymoon itself. Things didn't go to plan; nothing was what it was supposed to be," said Ms Molloy.
"It was a no-expense spared honeymoon. We were both in full employment at the time and had a nice bit of cash put away for the trip of a lifetime.
"We were led to believe that was what we'd get -- but that was certainly not the case."
Earlier in court, Ms Molloy told Mr MacCarthaigh that Tour America had told her husband that her standards were too high and had described her as a drama queen to him.
Mr MacCarthaigh, who appeared with solicitor Tom Brabazon, said that what the couple had experienced had turned out to be very different from what they expected.
Ms Molloy said the taxi booked to meet them at Cape Town airport failed to turn up.
Then they had been charged double deposits when the wrong car-hire company had delivered them the wrong car before the right company with the right car found them.
She said there was no catering at the Blue Views Penthouse, where they were to spend their first four nights. The apartment had no heating and was freezing. On the second night they had no electricity.
They had asked that no trip between hotels was to be more than 90 minutes, but ended up travelling for hours. One hotel was beside a building site; another was in a business park.