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Honeymoon Week 3: Maldives - Ash Cloud

As you will all know, we were stranded in the Maldives because of the volcanic ash cloud, finally getting home 5 days later than planned.

We didn't know anything about what was happening until the 15th of April, when we received a text from my mum saying their flight to London had been cancelled because of the ash and they were going to go on the overnight bus instead. We had never even bothered to switch on our TV until then so we had not heard any of the news reports. We watched it for a while as we heard from mum that the bus was fully booked and they were having a hire a car one way instead.

We didn't think too much of it at the time and assumed it would all be over by the time we were going home, which was supposed to be on the next Tuesday the 20th. As the week went on were hearing more and more reports of all of the flight disruption and couldn't quite believe what was happening. On the Saturday, the travel counsellor we had booked our honeymoon through called us to check everything was OK and that we just had to wait and see about our flight, although she thought that we would be there at least another week from then. I don't think we really thought it would be that bad but there was nothing we could do and just enjoyed the rest of our week in paradise!

The island was very quiet during this time, there was no one coming from or via Europe arrived, just those from the Middle East, Asia or Australia.

As it got nearer to the Tuesday, we figured that our flight would be cancelled so started thinking about what we would do. At the cocktail party on Sunday the friends we met had already had their flight cancelled for the next day and were given a very large figure per night for any additional nights they required. We contacted the Kuoni rep, who was based on another island, to see what our options were. She told us that Kuoni were not going to be paying for any additional accommodation for anyone, as the flight disruption was outwith their control. We did think that was a bit strange for such a large tour company but couldn't really do anything about it. We were quoted a figure of $565 a night to stay in our residence or $410 to move to the cheapest option, an island villa, which we were going to take, but I checked if we could move to a cheaper resort instead.

There was space on the reps island, Kurumba, at $250 a night, so we arranged to move on the Tuesday after our final night on Bodu Hithi. However, on the Monday evening, the Kuoni policy had changed and they were now willing to cover the cost of any additional accommodation required, on the same package as you had originally booked. Since we had paid for bed & breakfast in a water villa, that was what we were entitled to which was fantastic news and meant we didn't have to worry about the cost or moving islands; we just have to move villas. We were so glad that we had chosen to book with such a large tour operator; many of the other people we met were having to pay for their own accommodation and sort out their own flights which would have been a nightmare stuck at an expensive resort. The rates we were quoted if we did have to pay were also considerably cheaper than everyone else we spoke too, as they were negotiated specially by Kuoni. We never usually book with a tour operator but had decided to due to the amount we were spending, not knowing how thankful we would be later on!

We were given information from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, which came from the British High Commission in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It told you the usual advice for British Nationals stranded overseas, most of which we had already done, like contacting your tour operator or airline, depending on who was responsible for getting you home. It did have some general information if you needed to return urgently to the UK, with helpful suggestions like flying to another country to reach the UK by coach, ferry or train! Can you imagine how long that would have taken when we were so far away from anywhere!

Some flights did start leaving again on the 21st but since that was just the day after we were supposed to leave we were now at the back of the queue and everyone stranded since the 15th got priority on the flights. We just had to wait until we were put on a flight so while we enjoyed the next week still relaxing, sunbathing, swimming & snorkeling, we had to keep our case mostly packed as we had no idea when we would be leaving. It was very strange being stuck where we could not get anywhere, literally on a tiny island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, possibly one of the most remote places! We did get tired of watching the same news channels all the time as they showed the same reports about people stuck in Europe and never really ever mentioned the rest of the world.

I have to admit that I did not mind being stuck there at all, despite not being able to start my new job on time! While it was annoying not having any idea when we would be leaving, I just enjoyed our longer honeymoon {I originally did want to go away for 3 weeks}, since it was definitely a once in a lifetime experience! Graham on the other hand was getting a bit annoyed by the whole thing and it became clear why we had only chosen to go to the Maldives for one week originally! We both finished all of our books fairly quickly then I moved onto Grahams while he had to go and find more in the resort library; funnily enough he wasn't that interested in my holiday reading choices!

Since we were unable to stay in our residence for the 5 extra nights, we were moved to a water villa...


  1. I can't imagine it being too much of a hardship being stuck in paradise for a little while longer. Especially when the tour operator were prepared to pay for it. Running out books would be a nightmare though.

  2. I was so curious as to what happened during the ash cloud for you guys! I would have loved an extra week in the Maldives! And it was so great that the policy changed and the travel agency had to foot the bill!


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