The owners of the world-famous cruise ship the QE2 are refusing to compensate an elderly woman whose dream holiday was ruined after her arm was broken by a crew member.

Marguerite Toms, a frail 76 year-old former teacher from Westcliffe-on-Sea, Essex, was injured in January 1998 when two seamen were helping her to board the liner in Hawaii. She and her husband were enjoying a world cruise for which they had saved for years and which was part of their 40th wedding anniversary celebrations.

One of the seamen gripped Mrs Toms' arm so tightly as he helped her onto a floating pontoon that he broke her arm when the pontoon lurched suddenly.

"I heard the bone crack," Mrs Toms said. "I had asked him not to grip so hard but he ignored me. When I finally got on board I was in so much pain I felt sick."

Claim for compensation made

After the arm was put in plaster Mrs Toms remained in considerable pain and was forced to cancel many of her trips out from the liner. Liability for the accident has been denied ever since by the liner's owners.

"The cruise cost nearly £40,000. I had put my entire teacher's pension towards the trip. All I want is an apology for the way I have been treated and some sort of goodwill compensation. And I hope that no other elderly passenger has to go through what I have been through."

Mrs Toms' lawyer Rachel Sarfas, a partner at Thompsons Solicitors, the UK's largest personal injury law firm, said:

"It is a disgrace that the owners of the QE2 have so far refused to admit that they are responsible for ruining the dream holiday of an elderly couple. Mrs Toms suffered not just physically, but was traumatised by what happened to her. For the distress alone she should be compensated, but so far not so much as an apology has been received."

Note to editors The QE2 is owned by Trafalgar House Line Ltd.