More than 600 passengers due to set off on a three-month world cruise have been told to stay at home because their ship has developed engine trouble.
A crankshaft problem on Saga Ruby is the cause of the delay, which may take from a week to 10 days to repair.
The ship should have left Southampton on Monday evening for its last-ever world voyage. The 40-year-old vessel is due to be retired at the end of 2013.
Some passengers who had already arrived when the fault came to light were offered the chance to spend the night on board before returning home.
Saga Cruises’ chief executive Robin Shaw said: “We are deeply sorry to all our customers affected. The failure was identified through routine maintenance.
“The priority for us is the safety of our guests, our crew and our vessel and we make sure that is put to the forefront before any sailing. There are various options available to us, but our aim will be to preserve the majority of the cruise on its rearranged schedule.”
Saga Ruby, the last cruise ship to be built in the UK, was launched on the Tyne as Vistafjord 40 years ago. It previously sailed for Cunard as Caronia. Late last year a Mediterranean cruise was cut short in Lisbon because of an engine room problem. Passengers were flown home and the ship proceeded to Hamburg for repairs.