These stunning ruins have taken a trip back in time and been 'rebuilt'

Digital wizardry restores some of Europe’s most stunning castles to their former glory, from a mysterious fortified Irish mansion to the home of Vlad the Impaler in Romania

  • Seven of the most unique ruined castles of Europe have been ‘rebuilt’ by a team of designers and architects  
  • Poenari Castle in Romania was once the home of the infamous 15th-century ruler Vlad the Impaler
  • Dunnottar Castle in Scotland, south of Aberdeen, dates back to the 7th century – and was invaded by Vikings 

Seven of Europe’s most impressive ruined castles have been given an extreme makeover.

They have been ‘rebuilt’ by a team of designers and architects using the wonders of computer-generated imagery.

Scroll down to see these epic ruins – from a beautiful fortified Irish mansion to Vlad the Impaler’s former Romanian abode – and travel back in time…

Samobor Castle, Croatia – built between 1260 and 1264 

Samobor Castle in Croatia was built in the 12th century by the Czech king Otokar, before a procession of noble families took control through the centuries

From the initial Romantic-Gothic castle with a huge tower, late Gothic and Renaissance elements were added and at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century Samobor became a Baroque-style castle

Multiple owners, legal wranglings and war have marked this once-impressive castle’s long history.

Sitting above the market town of Samobor itself, the castle dates back to the 13th century, but the official website notes that ‘from the initial Romantic-Gothic castle with a huge tower, it acquired through time the late Gothic and Renaissance forms and at the end of the 17th century and the beginning of the 18th century it became a Baroque style castle’.

Since 1902, the castle – after years of legal battles between noblemen and the townsfolk – is now owned by the  town itself.

Château Gaillard, Les Andelys, Normandy, France – built between 1196 and 1198

This impressive château was built in the 12th century on the banks of the River Seine by English king Richard the Lionheart to protect his possessions from French archrival Philip II

After Richard’s death his successor, King John, eventually lost the château to Philip

This stunning French château is perched impressively above the River Seine. 

The castle’s official website explains: ‘In the late 12th century, Richard the Lionheart, King of England – thanks to his Plantagenet roots – ordered the construction of a massive new castle here to guard his Norman possessions and the nearby Norman capital of Rouen from the powerful King of France, Philip II.’

But Philip would have the last laugh – after Richard’s death in 1199, his successor King John soon lost the castle to his French rival.

Dunnottar Castle, Stonehaven, Scotland – built in the 7th century

Dunnottar Castle is situated just south of Aberdeen, overlooking the North Sea. It was invaded by the Vikings in the ninth century, who left a bloody trail of chaos in their wake

Dunnottar was captured from the English by Scottish hero William Wallace in the 13th century

Ancient Dunnottar Castle has a rich – and bloody – history.

According to its official website, the dramatic cliff-top fortress was invaded by Vikings in the ninth century, who killed King Donald II while they were there for good measure.

The site says that William Wallace captured the castle from the English in 1297 and it went on to welcome several key royals, including, 300 years later, Mary Queen of Scots.

Menlo Castle, Ireland – built in the 16th century

On the banks of the River Corrib, near Galway city, sits 16th-century Menlo Castle, inhabited by the wealthy English Blake family from 1569 

Tragedy struck Menlo in 1910 when a fire gutted the property and killed Lord and Lady Blake’s daughter Eleanor – it has been a ruin ever since

On the banks of the River Corrib, near Galway city, sits 16th-century Menlo Castle, inhabited by the wealthy English Blake family from 1569 and an ivy-clad building with a rich, painful and occasionally mysterious history.  

The official website says that ‘a local midwife to the Blake family used to tell a story that while on a night journey to the castle she heard fairy music and saw the fairies dancing in a fairy ring in a nearby field’.

Modern times, meanwhile, brought tragedy – in 1910 a fire gutted the place killing Lord and Lady Blake’s daughter Eleanor, whose body was never found. The building has been a ruin ever since.

Olsztyn Castle, Poland – built in the 14th century

Olsztyn Castle in Poland was built in the 14th century and was originally the home of Warmian Bishops

One of the most famous Warmian administrators of the castle was polymath Nicolaus Copernicus, and artefacts from his time are now displayed in the castle’s museum

This brick, Gothic castle built in the 14th century is also known as the Warmian Bishops’ Castle, in reference to the medieval religious order that lived there.

One of its most famous caretakers was 15th-century sage and boffin Nicolaus Copernicus, whose work in planetary observation was considered groundbreaking.

An on-site museum now houses Warmian religious paintings, Gothic sculptures and a hand-drawn astronomical table by Copernicus himself. The 114ft tower, meanwhile, offers visitors stunning views.

Spiš Castle, Slovakia – built in the 12th century

Built 900 years ago in Slovakia, Spiš Castle takes up over four hectares of space and is one of the biggest castles in central Europe

The castle’s architecture has changed over the centuries, and in the 15th century it was transformed into a Gothic-style fortress

Built 900 years ago and covering more than four hectares, Spiš Castle is one of the largest castles in central Europe.

According to the castle’s official website, the ‘surrounding stone fortification protected the inner Romanesque palace from the Tartars during the invasion of the 13th century’. 

Hollywood came calling in 1992 and 2007, when the movies Dragon Heart and The Last Legion were filmed there.

Poenari Castle, Romania – built in the 13th century

To get to this 13th-century castle perched high up in the Carpathian Mountains, you have to climb over 1,400 stairs

Poenari was once the home of the infamous Vlad the Impaler – the Romanian leader and folk hero who, it’s said, was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula

To get to this grand ruin in the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains – which dates back to the 13th century – you have to climb over 1,400 concrete steps.

But that’s not the most culturally significant aspect of Poenari – from the 15th century onwards it was the home of the infamous Vlad the Impaler, said to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Ghost hunters flock to the ruin, claiming that the historic place is haunted.

  • Source for the reconstructions: Budget Direct

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Top 10 much-loved films for coronavirus isolation to transport you far away from home

Holidays are not an option at the moment due to the coronavirus lockdown. Fortunately, there are a plethora of films to watch that can help frustrated Britons transport themselves to far off lands – even if only in the mind. Holidu, a search engine for holiday rentals, has decided to rank the best movies of all time that will allow you to escape as far away from home as possible.

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Holidu studied over one hundred films about travel (or that inspire the viewer to travel). These were then ranked according to several criteria: the number of awards obtained at the Academy Awards, the average rating obtained on imdb.com, and the number of times the film was mentioned in travel film lists.

The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – 2003

While The Lord of the Rings may seem somewhat unconventional for a travel movie list at first glance, they enable the viewer to discover the unique landscapes of New Zealand.

Plus, each of the three films allows you to travel not only to the other side of the world but further afield, to the fantastic world of J. R. R. Tolkien.

With eleven nominations and eleven Oscar awards, it is also the highest-rated film in the ranking, with 8.9/10 on IMDb.

Watch it online: available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime and YouTube from £2.49.

Titanic – 1997

Titanic may not make you want to go on an Atlantic cruise anytime soon, but it’s surely the best portrayal of the anticipation you feel when you’re about to embark on a great journey.

The film won a record number of fourteen Oscar nominations and eleven victories. As is often the case, the IMDb rating does not necessarily reflect the cinematic excellence rewarded at the Oscars, but Titanic nevertheless gets a good score with 7.8/10.

Watch it online: available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Google Play from £3.49.

Out of Africa – 1985

Set off to discover Kenya and its fabulous landscapes in the footsteps of a strong and independent woman with Out of Africa. Expect amazing safari scenes with lions and giraffes. A story of love, desire for freedom and emancipation led by Meryl Streep in the form of a young girl from Denmark, forced to leave everything to follow her husband and conquer her journey to East Africa.

The film garnered eleven Oscar nominations, seven wins and averages 7.2/10 on IMDb.

Watch it online: available for rental or purchase on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Google Play from £2.49.

Slumdog Millionaire – 2008

Slumdog Millionaire allows you to discover India for a total change of scenery, following Jamal Malik in search of his childhood sweetheart. Experience the vibrant city of Bombay in full expansion, the rural landscapes of deep India and the Taj Mahal all from your sofa.

With eight Oscar awards and ten nominations, Slumdog Millionaire has managed to charm its audience with its unique Bollywood vibe. It also received an excellent 8/10 rating on IMDb.

Watch online: available for rental or purchase on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Google Play from £2.50 and on Netflix.

Forrest Gump – 1994

Forrest tells of his adventures around the world, chasing Jenny and taking us with him. Forrest Gump takes the viewer from Vietnam to the crossing of the United States.

Thirteen Oscar nominations for six wins, Forrest Gump also received the second-highest rating of any film on IMDb with 8.8/10.

Watch online: available for rental or purchase on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Google Play from £2.49.

Raiders of the Lost Ark – 1981

To escape to faraway lands, there is nothing better than to follow the infinite adventures Indiana Jones encounters during his mission. In just one film, he manages to find the love of his life in Peru, unearth a mystical object hidden in the lost city of Tanis, Egypt, have it stolen and imprisoned by the Nazis, escape, retrieve the object and save the world.

A true cinematic feat for the time, Raiders of the Lost Ark was nominated eight times and won four Oscar awards. The IMDb average score is 8/10.

Watch online: available on Amazon Prime or for rental and purchase on YouTube and Google Play from £2.49.

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Dances with the Wolves – 1990

Dances with the Wolves promises a total change of scenery and a complete immersion in a fast-moving America. John Darbard takes you on a journey through time and space for more than three hours of film. He then makes us discover the most incredible landscapes of the Far West and the Grand Teton National Park, where he became friends with the Sioux Indian tribe. Breathtaking panoramas of still immaculate territories, this is the history of America before the United States.

Twelve nominations and eight Oscar awards – not bad for a Western that nobody wanted to produce! On IMDb, it gets an average score of 8/10.

Watch online: available to rent or buy on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Google Play from £2.49.

Inception – 2010

The youngest film in this ranking is a fascinating mind-bending voyage. Escape to Paris, Los Angeles, Morocco and Japan.

The second film with Leonardo DiCaprio in this ranking, which also performed well at the Oscars with eight nominations and four victories. It gets the third-best score among the films in the ranking with 8.7/10.

Watch online: available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Google Play from £3.49.

Doctor Zhivago – 1965

Doctor Zhivago takes you on a journey across Russia, starting from imperial Moscow, followed by the hard Ukrainian front during the First World War, to finish in the snowy Ural. Throughout the film, you discover icy and majestic landscapes of the Russian winters as you have never imagined them before.

It has been nominated ten times and awarded five times at the Oscars and gets a score of 8/10 on IMDb.

Watch online: available for rent or purchase on YouTube and Google Play from £3.49.

Before Sunrise – 1995

This is the story of two young people who do what you’ve always dreamed of doing but never really thought possible! Make a random encounter, turn all your plans upside down, and spend a day exploring a new destination. This is a romantic film which shows, as a bonus, beautiful pictures of the Austrian capital.

No Oscar for this film, which stands out from the rest of the list by being lighter and easier than the others. However, it gets the well-deserved 8/10 rating on IMDb and will transport you for a while to the beautiful city of Vienna.

Watch online: available for rent or purchase on Amazon Prime, YouTube and Google Play from £3.49.

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Cabin crew secrets: Flight attendant reveals tips for packing luggage light for flights

Cabin crew spend much of their working life packing bags for their next flight. It’s hardly surprising they soon become pros at what to do and what not to do when it comes to assembling a suitcase. One ex flight attendant has revealed her top tips for holiday packing.

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Heather Poole shared her insight in her book Cruising Attitude.

She explained that travellers have to always be able to lift their own bags.

“You pack it, you lift it” is the “mantra” of cabin crew the world over.

So what is the best way to ensure you pack light and can easily lift your luggage up into the overhead locker?

“What you pack and whether you check your bag or carry on can drastically affect the outcome of your trip.

“Don’t make travel more stressful that it has to be. Play it safe and do what flight attendants do.

“When it comes to preparing for a trip we’re experts. We travel with just a roll-aboard and a tote bag, even when we’re packing for days at a time.”

Poole explained exactly what she does with her clothes and belongings when packing.

“The secret is rolling,” she wrote. “Rolling instead of folding leaves clothes wrinkle-free.

“Our other tricks? I always coordinate my outfits around footwear.

“A comfy kick-around pair for exploring the destination by day and something rest for dinner and a show at night.

“Undies, socks, bikinis, whatever can be wadded up, are inside shoes. No space goes unused.

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“To make things simple, pack black and be done with it.

“So what if you wear the same outfit over and over? That’s what easy-to-pack accessories are for!

“Scarves and jewellery can completely change boring black into something fab.

“And whatever gets left behind becomes the perfect excuse to go shopping for something new!”

Choosing the right bag can also help when your airline has strict rules on hand luggage allowance.

David Scotland, from Outdoor World Direct, advocates travelling with backpacks.

“Large camping rucksacks also offer convenient pockets which can be used for stowing passports, snacks and water so that you don’t have to open your hand luggage on the plane or dig around for your passport,” he told Express.co.uk

“Just be sure to check the dimensions of the rucksack complies with your airline’s regulations beforehand.”

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Covid 19 coronavirus: Lizzie Marvelly – Domestic travel and why New Zealand is a great place to be

COMMENT:

It’s hard to believe that just over a month ago, my love and I were in Sydney, basking in the colourful revelry of Mardi Gras. We drank bubbles on the plane, went shopping in the CBD, and joined the crowd of thousands to watch the parade. It was legal then to congregate. It was also legal to travel. It seems like a lifetime ago, in much sunnier times. Such a trip across the Tasman would be inconceivable now.

While we’re stuck staring at our four walls, I’m sure many of us have daydreamed about lounging about on a tropical beach, cocktail in hand. It’s an attractive fantasy that seems a long way off, as even when travel restrictions begin to ease, travellers will grapple with a vastly changed travel industry.

While I wholeheartedly encourage daydream-travel to faraway tropical islands, bustling metropoles, and the many wonders of our world, when we’re all let out of home detention, I’d humbly suggest that we stay local – at least for the first 12 months.

I was lucky enough to be born into a tourism family. My parents owned and operated hotels, cafes and other tourism businesses in the tourism capital of New Zealand – Rotorua. Tourism is an exciting industry packed full of fascinating characters. It employs all kinds of people, from cleaning staff to adventure tourism practitioners to pilots to marketing executives. It’s creative, innovative, and can be hugely fun to work in. It’s also tough, particularly on the hospitality side, and can involve long hours and exhausting work.

It’s much tougher, however, when there are no tourists.

I can’t put into words the magnitude of the impact that Covid-19 is having upon our tourism and hospitality industries. My heart breaks for the many New Zealanders who will lose their incomes not only for the period of the shutdown, but for many months, or even years afterwards as the tourism, travel and hospitality industries slowly kick back into gear. Many of us will do it tough over the next six-12 months, but I can think of few industries that will be as utterly decimated as tourism.

With that in mind, I’d like to propose a return to the good old Kiwi holiday. While our tourism industry grapples with the worst downturn it’s likely ever seen, let’s help out our fellow New Zealanders by travelling within New Zealand. When we’re finally allowed to travel domestically again, if we’re financially able to, let’s try to take holidays in our own backyard.

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Covid 19 coronavirus: NZ passengers adrift as ship’s doctor falls sick

A passenger taken from a stranded cruise ship in Uruguay has tested positive for Covid-19, and nine others on board have developed symptoms.

The remaining crew and passengers of the Greg Mortimer, including 16 New Zealanders, are worried if the Uruguayan authorities continue to refuse their ship to dock and let passengers disembark the number of cases could rise drastically.

In a letter to passengers, cruise line Aurora confirmed the guest who tested positive was in a “stable but critical condition”. While 106 passengers remain in good health, the letter from MD Robert Halfpenny confirmed among those with symptoms was the ship’s doctor who “now has a fever and we are organising a back-up volunteer medic”.

Including the ship’s doctor, the number of suspected cases had risen by three in 24 hours.

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Antarctica, dinosaurs and a rainforest: scientists find 90-million year old forest near South Pole

Experts say they have found evidence of Antarctica once being as warm as New Zealand during the days of the dinosaurs, and covered in dense vegetation.

A team of researchers from the UK and Germany has found forest soil from the Cretaceous period, within 900 kilometres of the South Pole, indicating the world once was a lot warmer than previously thought.

The mid-Cretaceous period – approximately 115 to 80 million years ago – was the heyday of the dinosaurs.

The discovery of the ancient forest in Antarctica has been published in Nature journal.

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Clardige’s hotel shuts after 200 years – but opens its luxury rooms to some special guests

The coronavirus crisis has forced hotels across the country to close their doors amid a lockdown effort to try and prevent the spread of the disease. For five-star London hotel Claridge’s, this means shutting its doors for the first time in its 200-year history.

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However, just days after closing, the chain has announced it will remain open and offer out some of its £650-a-night suites to NHS staff working during the pandemic.

From tomorrow 40 doctors, nurses and other key members of staff based in London and working at nearby NHS trusts who can not live at home at the moment will be welcomed into the hotel.

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Claridge’s, based in Mayfair, said it will also provide dinner and breakfast to those who opt to stay.

Paddy McKillen, co-owner of the Maybourne Group, which runs the hotel announced: “Just as it has in the past world wars, Claridge’s has a duty to step up and support the people of London.

“Teams from all our hotels have volunteered to help and support the dedicated NHS workers at this critical time. We are forever in their debt.”

The news is welcomed by those workers who currently live with at-risk and vulnerable people, and so can not return to their normal dwellings.

It also aids workers from other parts of the country who have been drafted in to help with the growing number of cases.

London is currently the epicentre of the UK COVID-19 battle.

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In the city alone there have been more than 700 fatalities.

However, the capital is not the only place where free accommodation is being offered to frontline workers.

Airbnb announced it would be offering homes and places to stay to NHS and medical workers through England.

The move is part of a global push with aims to provide accommodation to 100,000 medical workers.

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While the website usually pairs holidaymakers with places to stay during their travel, Airbnb has switched direction amid the global pandemic.

Working closely with the NHS, hosts with entire homes are being given cleanliness protocols that they must abide by to ensure the safety of their families and the guests they welcome to stay.

Hospitals and NHS trusts are then being helped by Airbnb to sign up relevant staff in need of a place to stay.

Patrick Robinson, Director of Public Policy, at Airbnb, said: “The entire country is behind our heroic NHS and medical staff as they battle the coronavirus outbreak.

“We have made it our priority to stand with the Airbnb community to do what we can to help.

“By working together, we can ensure that frontline workers can find a free and convenient place to stay as they continue their critical work.

“We thank our doctors and nurses across the country from the bottom of our hearts and are grateful to hosts who have already opened their homes during these difficult times.”

The news comes as the global coronavirus rate surpasses 1,000,000.

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Global air passenger demand sees steepest decline since 9/11: IATA


The coronavirus pandemic sent global air passenger demand plunging 14 percent in February, marking the steepest decline in traffic since the September 11 attacks in 2001, the global aviation association said Thursday.

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a tarmac: Fresh data from the International Air Transport Association showed that air passenger demand nosedived 14.1 percent globally last month compared to February 2019.

Fresh data from the International Air Transport Association showed that air passenger demand, measured in the number of kilometres traveled by paying passengers, nosedived 14.1 percent globally last month compared to February 2019.

“This was the steepest decline in traffic since 9/11,” IATA said in a statement, adding that the slump “reflected collapsing domestic travel in China and sharply falling international demand to/from and within the Asia-Pacific region, owing to the spreading COVID-19 virus and government-imposed travel restrictions.”

The pain was not evenly distributed, with carriers in the Asia-Pacific region suffering a 41-percent drop.

Global airline capacity meanwhile fell by 8.7 percent in February as airlines scrambled to cut back services in line with plunging traffic.

“Airlines were hit by a sledgehammer called COVID-19 in February,” IATA chief Alexandre de Juniac said in a statement.

His comment came as the number of people infected with COVID-19 approached a million, including nearly 50,000 who have died from the virus, spurring governments to order around half of humanity to remain at home.

“The impact on aviation has left airlines with little to do except cut costs and take emergency measures in an attempt to survive in these extraordinary circumstances,” Juniac said, pointing out that since February the situation “has only grown worse”.

Industry’s ‘biggest crisis’ 

“Without a doubt this is the biggest crisis that the industry has ever faced.”

The IATA data showed that international passenger demand, which covers only international flights, fell 10.1 percent year-on-year in February, marking the worst slump since the SARS outbreak in 2003, while international capacity fell five percent.

The impact was again felt most in the Asia-Pacific region, where airlines saw a 30.4-percent drop in international traffic.

European carriers meanwhile saw demand for international flights remain virtually flat in February, showing their weakest performance in a decade, and IATA warned that the March figures would be far worse for the region that has overtaken Asia as the epicenter of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, worldwide demand for domestic air travel dropped 20.9 percent in February compared to the same month last year.

The Chinese domestic market all but collapsed, with an 83.6-percent drop in passenger demand, marking the worst outcome since IATA began tracking the market in year 2000, it said.

Domestic traffic meanwhile soared in the US in February, jumping 10.1 percent, but IATA said demand fell towards the end of the month, with results expected to have slowed significantly in March.

“This is aviation’s darkest hour and it is difficult to see a sunrise ahead unless governments do more to support the industry through this unprecedented global crisis,” Juniac said.

IATA has estimated that airlines may burn through $61 billion of their cash reserves during the second quarter of the year, including $35 billion worth of sold-but-unused tickets due to widespread flight cancellations amid government-imposed travel restrictions.

“Air transport will play a much-needed role in supporting the inevitable recovery. But without additional government action today, the industry will not be in a position to help when skies are brighter tomorrow,” said Juniac.

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Cruises: At least 100 more coronavirus cases confirmed on Eleftherios Venizelos ship

Greek health authorities said on Thursday that at least 120 people have now been recorded as having contracted coronavirus on the Eleftherios Venizelos cruise ship. The shocking numbers come after the vessel recorded an initial figure of 20. The Greek ship, which is part of the ANEK Lines fleet, has a crew of 34 people.

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The ship has not recorded any deaths.

There is also an international passenger list of 349 shipyard workers on board.

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Two crew members on board the vessel, an Indonesian and a Swiss individual have already been transferred to hospitals for further treatment.

Doctors from Greece’s public health agency conducted the tests on all 383 persons on board the cruise liner.

The individuals with the virus on board the ship will remain there until treatment plans are found, according to Skai.gr.

The rest of the patients will then be transferred to secure accommodations for a 14-day quarantine.

The ship has passengers of all nationalities on board, including Greeks.

However, it is not clear what the exact numbers are for each nationality as the information has not been made public.

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It is believed there are not any Britons on board the ship.

The ship was being leased by a Turkish operator to transfer workers to Spain.

Hundreds of technicians and manual labourers who boarded in Turkey were meant to be heading to work in a shipyard in Cadiz, southern Spain.

However, reportedly the ship was refused permission to dock in Spain after travel restrictions were put in place due to the deadly virus.

The ship then allegedly returned to Turkey where it was also told not to dock and so stopped at Piraeus, near Athens last week.

ANEK Lines have been contacted for comment.

The ship was named after Eleftherios Kyriakou Venizelos, a Greek statesman.

The cruise liner is the oldest in ANEK’s fleet and was built in 1984 in Poland.

The ship can hold a maximum of 2300 passengers and 850 cars.

Greece has 1,415 cases of coronavirus and 52 deaths.

It comes as a Briton died on a coronavirus stricken cruise ship which was heading to Florida.

A Briton was among four people who died on the ship which was heading to Florida.

The cruise ship Zaandam has nine people on board who have the virus and 189 more reporting flu-like symptoms.

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Martin Lewis: Money expert reveals the surprising way to get a hotel refund amid covid-19

The impact of coronavirus has left a lot of holidaymakers wondering whether they should apply for refunds or cancel their plans. The travel and service industries have been hit hard by the virus as they are forced to suspend their schedules and let go of staff. But as lockdown measures continue, and more people are left out of work, many will no doubt be seeking refunds.

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  • Credit card and overdraft changes proposed – Martin Lewis reacts

Today, presenter Nicky Campbell took questions on BBC 5 Live Breakfast with financial expert Martin Lewis.

A man called Dave called in and asked Mr Lewis about how he can get refunds on his hotel bookings.

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He asked: “We’ve got three short breaks booked later in the year with a chain of budget hotels.

“I just wondered – I prepaid them all – can I claim back or is there anyway I can do that if I don’t go?”

Mr Campbell pointed out that a lot of companies would be financially in their right to give refunds or not give refunds.

He added: “But I’m sure there are many companies who are understanding the exigencies of the situation and doing the right thing.”

Founder of MoneySavingExpert.com Mr Lewis said: “Yes, and equally we have to understand the exigencies of the situation for firms.

“And as someone who has always backed consumers, I understand that at the moment we have to show forbearance too.

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“Look, we don’t know you can’t go yet. When you say later in the year, how much later in the year are you talking?”

Dave replied: “The first break is in May. The second one is in June and the third is in July and that’s for the open golf as well so that may be off, I don’t know.”

Mr Lewis replied: “Interestingly, unless you’ve booked an open golf package, if the open golf is off but the hotel is available then the open golf being off doesn’t mean you can cancel your hotel.

“Assuming it is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund if you cannot go because the holiday is cancelled.

“And the same is true of flights. But enforcing that is becoming the problem at the moment.

“Loads of people are talking to me about flights especially as well as hotels.

“With flights there is actually a specific law – EU regulation 264/2004 – with general cancellations you must expect your money back.

“Now, enforcement is the real difficulty. With flights by the way everyone, the easiest solution on that is their websites which are offering you vouchers.

“If you can take a voucher why not, it will help the travel industry but if you can’t then you’re going to need to call them up which I know is difficult and I know there are long delays.

“They should give you the cash refund. With a hotel they should give you a cash refund too.

“Whether they will or not is difficult, the only real way to enforce that is by going to court and some of these companies clearly are under huge trouble and don’t have the money.”

He then explained the best way to get a refund is through your card company.

He said: “I would probably use the charge back system. If you pay for something that you don’t get then under the Visa MasterCard and American Express rules, if you can’t get a refund then you can go to Visa MasterCard and American Express which you do via your card provider.

“Say you’d like to do a chargeback because you’ve paid for this and you haven’t received it and you should get a refund that way.”

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