Passengers have rebelled after their 10-day 'luxury' cruise turned into a holiday from hell when the ship broke down - incurring three days of blackouts, food shortages, no running water and no working toilets.
The 1,700 holidaymakers, including 400 Britons, were towed to land in Sweden and placed on flights to take them home.
The MSC Opera had set sail from Southampton on Saturday 7 May, with planned stop-offs at Amsterdam, Stockholm, Helsinki, St Petersburg and Copenhagen. But it ran into trouble in the Baltic Sea off Sweden when the ship's electricity – and attempts to restart the engines – failed.
Retired Isle of Wight hotelier Mary Birch, 65, said staff tried to placate angry passengers with free alcohol when they demanded to see the captain.
She told the Daily Mail: 'We stopped in the middle of the Baltic, nobody knew why, for about three hours. Then it came across the tanoy that the boat was experiencing some difficulties and then it stopped again for 12 hours, and then finally they got some tugs out to pull us in.
'The toilets were unusable and then they got them working and then they didn't work again. There was no water. Food-wise, we've just been on rolls.'
Mrs Birch's son, Mark, who was not on the cruise, said passengers were chanting, 'We want the captain, we want the captain!'
He added: 'He wouldn't come down but they opened the bar to calm everyone down.'
Mrs Birch has been offered a free cruise, but Mark said he imagines the experience 'will put her off for life'.
Two other passengers, Dennis and Linda Huntley, called their daughter Jo when the luxury liner broke down. She said: 'For 24 hours, they were told nothing. They had no water, no electricity, no food, no sanitation. All they had to eat all day was a dry biscuit.
'It was scary for them. They were just floating aimlessly in the dark.'
The ordeal came to an end when tugs were sent out on Sunday to pull the vessel to shore.
It reached land yesterday and passengers were bussed to Stockholm and flown to Bournemouth last night.
An MSC Cruises spokesman said all passengers would receive a credit voucher for another 10-day cruise.
The company also cancelled the ship's next excursion, due to sail out of Southampton today, which will affect around 500 passengers.
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