100 passengers on board Spirit of Discovery cruise ship left injured during “extremely frightening” experience in Bay of Biscay - as passengers prepare for hospital when docking at Portsmouth

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Around one hundred passengers were left injured during an “extremely frightening” experience on board a huge cruise ship that hit stormy weather in the Bay of Biscay off the French coast on Saturday.

Saga’s Spirit of Discovery ran into trouble in “gale force winds and nine metre high waves” around midday before getting battered for the next 18 hours, according to unhappy customers now seeking compensation.

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Of the 100 people injured, five sustained more serious injuries and needed treatment on the ship’s medical centre. They are due to go to hospital when Discovery docks at Portsmouth International Port. The ship is due in this evening with people set to disembark tomorrow, though those seeking medical attention will be able to go to hospital this evening.

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Spirit of Discovery in Portsmouth

Spirit of Discovery
Picture: Portsmouth International Port/Andrew Sassoli-WalkerSpirit of Discovery in Portsmouth

Spirit of Discovery
Picture: Portsmouth International Port/Andrew Sassoli-Walker
Spirit of Discovery in Portsmouth Spirit of Discovery Picture: Portsmouth International Port/Andrew Sassoli-Walker

The incident happened when ship's propulsion safety system activated at 12.30pm and turned the ship - resulting in the injuries to around 100 of the 1,000 passengers on board. Passengers then spent around 18 hours waiting for the storm and gales to pass after a decision was taken by the Master to hold the position.

Spirit of Discovery was on a 14-night Canary Island Quintet cruise, which departed on 24 October. But with weather conditions worsening, a decision was made on day 10 to cancel a call to Las Palmas and continue onwards to La Coruna to get ahead of the approaching storm, a Saga spokesperson said.

But while cruising towards La Coruna, the Master was told the port would be closed due to bad weather conditions. A decision to return back to the UK earlier than planned was then made to stay ahead of the storm.

A letter from Saga Cruises CEO Nigel Blanks to customers, seen by The News, said: “I appreciate it was an extremely frightening time but I wanted to reassure you that the ship remained safe.”

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He added that there would be details over compensation in the coming days following the “disappointing end to your cruise”.

A Saga Cruises statement 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 on their way home in calmer seas.”

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