Page last updated at 14:02 GMT, Wednesday, 28 January 2009

Storm-hit cruise ship back home

Passengers on board a cruise ship from Kent hit by 50ft waves in the Bay of Biscay earlier this month have told of flying crockery and sleepless nights.

Many passengers were injured, including two who suffered broken bones, when the Balmoral endured rough seas and winds.

Arriving back in Dover, Shirley Law said: "It was like being in prison on a boat - you could not wait to get off."

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has offered everyone who was on the vessel a 25% discount on any future trip.

The Balmoral had set off in fine weather on 17 January, but hit force eight to nine gales the following day.

The weather conditions were worse than forecast
Nigel Lingard, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Steven Law, from north Kent, said he and his wife saw many people fall over.

"We heard there were well over 80 injuries.

"The worst thing for me was the night time... and I was sliding up and down in the bed, from side to side, waves going over, and I thought my end was coming."

Mrs Law added that they did not sleep for five nights.

Smashed plates

"I don't think the ship should have left Dover," she said.

Patricia Bachell, from Colchester in Essex, also a passenger, told BBC Radio Kent: "The cupboard doors in the restaurants used to fly open, all the china - about 50 plates at a time - would come out and smash.

"People on chairs would go over, and the soup would come towards you and, if you were lucky, it reversed."

Nigel Lingard, from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said the Balmoral was caught out by the sea conditions.

"The weather conditions were worse than forecast... and the ship was actually hit by much larger motions of the sea than had been anticipated before we left Dover," he said.

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