The Spirit of Discovery became stranded in he waters off France’s west coast (Picture: PA)
Around 100 holidaymakers have been injured after a cruise ship was battered by gale force winds and 30ft waves.
The ship departed Britain for a two-week cruise on October 24, but a decision was made on Saturday as it crossed the Bay of Biscay on France’s west coast to abandon the last leg of the trip.
But the punishing winds and choppy waters eventually caught up with them while sailing through the Bay of Biscay- a notoriously rough area for boats- and at around 12.30 pm the conditions were so jagged that the ship’s automatic safety system kicked in.
The ship lurched to one side at an alarming pace, causing 100 passengers to suffer minor injuries as they were thrown to the floor and slammed into furniture.
Five more later needed treatment for more serious injuries onboard the ship’s medical facilities, according to Saga Cruises.
Passengers were then left stranded on the open sea for a further 18 hours as the ship waited for the storm to pass.
The Spirit of Discovery arrived back at Portsmouth on Monday evening but Saga Cruises has not confirmed if any of those injured require further treatment ashore.
In a letter to passengers seen by Portsmouth outlet The News, Saga Cruises CEO Nigel Blanks attempted to assuage the traumatised passengers, acknowledging the ‘extremely frightening time’ while emphasising that the ship remained ‘safe.’
Blanks also promised forthcoming details on compensation following the ‘disappointing end’ to the ill-fated cruise.
A spokeswoman said: ‘Spirit of Discovery was sadly caught in the challenging weather conditions this weekend, as she started her return to the UK.
‘The ship remained safe at all times, but due to the impact of the storm some guests sustained injuries.
‘All were treated immediately by onboard medical staff.
‘While the weather is clearly beyond our control, we want to offer our sincere apologies to all those affected who are now safely back, having sailed home in calmer seas.’
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The ship became stranded in the middle of France’s Bay of Biscay.