Cruise ship returns to UK after 100 injured in Bay of Biscay storm

The cruise ship Spirit of Discovery berthed at Oslo credit Bahnfrend wikicommons

A cruise ship has returned to the UK after 100 passengers were injured in a ‘frightening’ storm off western France.

Saga’s Spirit of Discovery encountered “gale force winds and nine-metre high waves” in the Bay of Biscay on Saturday (4 November 2023), after bad weather hit.

The incident happened when the ship’s propulsion safety system activated and caused the ship to effectively stop. The vessel veered to one side, leaving around 100 passengers injured. While most injuries were minor, five passengers needed medical treatment, according to Saga.

Passengers had to wait around 18 hours for the storm to pass after the ship’s Master decided it would be safest to hold the position.

The ship docked in Portsmouth on the UK’s south coast on Monday night (6 November 2023), with passengers disembarking on Tuesday morning.

Spirit of Discovery had been undertaking a 14-night cruise in the Canaries. After conditions deteriorated, a decision was made to cancel a call to Las Palmas and continue onwards to La Coruña to get ahead of the approaching storm, a Saga spokesperson told media.

However, the port at La Coruña was closed before the ship could arrive, so a decision was made for the vessel to return to the UK and stay ahead of the poor weather.

En route, the ship encountered stormy weather in the Bay of Biscay — a notoriously rough area for ships.

Speaking to the BBC, Saga says the ship “remained safe at all times” and that only two or three people are expected to need hospital treatment.

“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,” the spokesperson adds.

Poor weather rocked much of northern Europe last week, as Storm Ciarán brought strong winds and high waves.

HM Coastguard issued a safety warning, insisting no photo is worth dying for, after a number of people were filmed walking along Whitby’s East Pier in dangerous conditions. An ‘idiot’ tourist taking a selfie on the pier was filmed being knocked over by waves, as Ciarán lashed the southeast coast of the UK.

Main image: The cruise ship Spirit of Discovery berthed at Oslo in 2019. Image courtesy of Bahnfrend via Wikicommons

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