A CRUISE has been cancelled and hundreds of passengers sent home after a ship was detained by authorities at Portland Port.

The MV Discovery was originally due to leave for the cruise to Norway from Avonmouth, but was re-routed to Portland on Thursday due to weather conditions.

A spokesperson for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "Following inspections on Friday 1 March, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) issued a Detention Notice on the passenger ship Discovery, preventing the vessel from sailing at this time.

"This will remain in place whilst the owners and crew undertake revisions to their safety management system."

Passengers were boarded on Thursday but said they spent around 24 hours on the ship before being informed the cruise would have to be cancelled.

Richard Charlton, from Yorkshire, booked the holiday to view the Northern Lights to celebrate his 40th wedding anniversary with wife Christine.

He said hundreds of passengers were taken by bus to Portland from Avonmouth on Thursday.

He added: "We got to Portland and went through the embarkation procedure and went to our cabin.

"A newsletter was put under our door in the early hours of the morning, saying the itinerary would go ahead as planned.

"By this time, there were rumours going round that something was wrong, but nothing was put out officially.

"We were promised an announcement by the captain in the afternoon, but we didn't get this until around 8pm, when it came over the tannoy that it would not be going ahead."

The holidaymakers were taken by coach back to Avonmouth, Mr Charlton added.

Cruise and Maritime Voyages, who operate the cruise ship, have offered a full refund to passengers, as well as £250 compensation and 40 per cent off their next cruise with the company.

A spokesperson said: "Due to unusual and unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control and notwithstanding the recent dry docking, the vessel has encountered technical problems which prevent her from sailing.

"We have been unable to resolve these technical issues to enable us to continue with the cruise on time and further works will have to be undertaken to ensure all issues are fully resolved.

"We would like reiterate our sincere regret for having to take this decision and to extend our profound apologies to all our passengers for the disappointment and inconvenience caused.

"All the focus is now on ensuring the vessel is in top shape for the cruise commencing on March 15. Discovery will be inspected again prior to this cruise by the Flag State and the MCA."