BRITISH holidaymakers were left screaming and in tears after their P&O cruise ship crashed into an oil tanker off the coast of Majorca.
The Britannia reportedly snapped its moorings and was blown toward the second vessel on Sunday morning amid heavy rain and 75mph hurricane-strength winds.
P&O said a small number of people suffered minor injuries, and a lifeboat was damaged and could not be repaired onboard.
One family on the £473-million ship said passengers heard a loud bang and saw debris floating in the water before the captain told them “this is not a drill” and advised them to remain in their cabins.
A woman, who is a passenger along with her partner and two children, said she was left in tears amid the chaos.
She told WalesOnline: “We have now been told we’re allowed to leave our cabins but we can’t do anything on the ship and all the crew are in their life jackets and doing all of their emergency things.
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“The side of the boat is battered.”
She said the ship was docked overnight in Palma where winds were so strong its anchors “broke”.
The woman said: “We were up browsing our phones in bed and heard the big horn after the bang.
“It was panic stations, I was bawling my eyes out. We went out onto our balcony and could see debris in the ocean and all the damage to the side of the boat and our lifeboat.
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“The captain said: ‘Everyone to their muster stations, this is not a drill.’ Lots of people were running around looking panicked.
“Then they came around again and said everyone needs to get back to their cabins. We’re still none the wiser. I can’t see how they’ll be able to sail it again after this.”
Another passenger, Ricky Stubbs, said he and his children had been about to disembark when the crash happened.
He told The Guardian: “We were at the stairwell next to the sunset bar. A loud crash came from the bar and the door flung open with people running in.
“Within seconds there was more crashing followed by chaos as people were trying to escape the onslaught of wind and rain.
“People were being ushered in by other guests and staff. You could clearly see some had injuries due to either falling over or debris flying around, and people were distraught.”
A P&O spokesman confirmed the 1080ft cruise ship is heading back to its base in Southampton from Palma, rather than docking at Gibraltar beforehand as it was originally scheduled to do.
It is understood the 321 passengers will be leaving the Britannia and returning to the UK early, using alternative transport, in line with maritime regulations.
The ship set sail from Southampton on August 18 with planned stops including Cadiz and Ibiza. It was due to leave Mallorca on Sunday afternoon.
The Britannia can carry 3647 passengers and is said to have been “close to capacity” at the time of the collision.
A passenger explained: “They’ve pulled us out to sea now after checking there were no fires on the ship and anchored us.
“They’ve said we can leave the cabins now and we’re waiting for further updates from the captain.
“I think we’ll probably get off the ship now and fly back. I won’t be sailing back. As soon as this is over I’m getting off and looking for a hotel.”
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Another passenger, Mark Beckwith, told WalesOnline on Sunday evening: “The captain has and is doing an amazingly calm job with the fantastic crew.
“It’s very calm and relaxed onboard now and we are just redocking to collect the passengers whom were off the ship for the duration of the incident.”
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