A travel company has been ordered to pay compensation to a Central Coast schoolteacher after a "once in a lifetime cruise along the grand waterways of Europe" became a bus trip across the flooded continent.
The lawyer behind a class-action says he expects the teacher's payment will be the first of a multi-million dollar compensation payout to more than 1200 affected holiday makers.
The NSW Supreme Court on Thursday ruled cruise operator Scenic had failed to provide David Moore with the luxury cruise he and his wife had paid more than $10,000 each to experience.
Mr Moore was awarded a full refund plus $2000 in damages - a total of $12,990.
Heavy rainfall had fallen in Europe in the weeks leading up to the June 2013 cruise, leaving towns and cities along the waterways between Amsterdam and Budapest flooded.
Ships were unable to pass under bridges and some docking facilities could not be used and had been washed away, the court heard.
Mr Moore said he and his fellow travellers spent their holiday being shuffled around Europe often by coach.
In a letter to Scenic at the end of the trip, Mr Moore and his wife said they believed they were going to relax in their own cabin with balcony, cruise down the Rhine and Danube and enjoy the medieval castles, churches and culture of Europe.
"As it happened we were stuck between other river boats with no views, in an industrial area or the cruising was done late at night whilst we were asleep," the letter said.
"Transferring from ship to ship involved lengthy travel (sometimes in coaches without air-conditioning or working toilets)."
Judge Peter Garling found Scenic was bound by Australian consumer law and obliged to provide information about events that would have impacted on a passenger's ability to enjoy the cruise.
Scenic on Thursday said the company would review the judgment in full before commenting but did defend its track record.
"Despite the extraordinary weather conditions in Europe in early 2013 less than five per cent of Scenic cruises in the past four years resulted in any itinerary change," a spokeswoman said in a statement to AAP.
Both parties were ordered to file more documents before the case is heard again on November 15 to determine what payouts are being sought for the remaining passengers.
Mr Moore's lawyer, Tim Somerville, told AAP 10 of Scenic's 13 cruises were found to be affected by the events and two more were found to be partially impacted.
The total judgment, including refunds of amounts paid by passengers, damages, interest, and costs will be about $14 million, Mr Somerville said.