UPDATE: Balmoral now expected to reach Southampton about 6.00 pm Sunday, approximately12 hours late.
Cruise ship Balmoral, returning to the UK after its Titanic Memorial Voyage, has been delayed in the Atlantic by extreme weather conditions.
Passengers coming home have been warned to expect delays, and those planning to join the ship in Southampton on Sunday for a cruise to the Atlantic islands have been advised not to arrive until later in the day.
Captain Robert Bamberg will assess overnight progress and the weather forecast before informing his passengers and Fred Olsen’s head office when he expects to be arriving at the Mayflower Terminal. The Met Office forecast for sea area Sole, through which the ship will be sailing tonight, is for moderate to rough seas, occasionally very rough, with winds increasing to gale force eight.
A statement from the company, posted on its website, says: “Owing to severe weather conditions currently being experienced by MS Balmoral on her inbound journey to the UK, her arrival into Southampton this Sunday will be delayed.”
A spokeswoman added: “Every effort is being made to provide the necessary assistance with rearranging onward travel for guests on board Balmoral, and extra staff will be available in the terminal to assist disembarking and embarking guests..
“For those guests booked on Balmoral’s Canary Islands and Madeira cruise, we would strongly recommend that, for the moment and wherever possible, they make plans to arrive at the terminal no earlier than 15:30 hours on the 29th, but prior to 18:00 hours. ”
Updated information will be made available on the Fred Olsen website, and the 24-hour information line on 01473 746167.
The Titanic cruise has not been without incident; the ship was delayed behind cargo vessels in Southampton Water when setting out on April 8, and arrival into harbour at Cobh, in southern Ireland, was several hours behind schedule. It also had to turn back temporarily to enable a coastguard helicopter to airlift BBC cameraman Tim Rex to hospital after he suffered a suspected heart attack.
►Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2, which arrived home in Southampton today after a 107-night world voyage, will get its 2012 season of Transatlantic crossings off to a bumpy start; the ship is heading straight into the rough seas which are delaying Balmoral.