Passengers on a Norwegian fjords cruise that had to be abandoned when their ship hit an unidentified object are being offered a full refund and a free future sailing.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ ship Columbus struck a “foreign object” after departing from Amsterdam on Friday.

The vessel, with 1,323 passengers and 616 crew on board, was inspected by surveyors and divers and was cleared to sail.

However, the ship then developed a “technical issue” and was forced to return to port in the Netherlands.

CMV stressed “that this is not anything which placed the safety of any passengers or crew at risk”.

But the line added: “This technical issue prevented Columbus from continuing on her Majestic Fjordland itinerary and meant that Columbus has returned to Ijmuiden (Netherlands) for further checks and repairs.

“Arrangements for all passengers to travel back to the UK and elsewhere have been made.”

The 63,786-ton Columbus called at Amsterdam on Friday andwas due to visit Eidfjord before visiting Flam and Bergen in Norway.

Passengers on board will be offered full refunds for the cruise fare paid for the cancelled cruise. CMV will also offer a future cruise of up to seven nights duration free of charge.

“For cruises longer than seven nights in duration, CMV is pleased to offer a discount on the current fares when booked up to the value of the fare paid for the original booking,” the company said.

“Any necessary out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the incident will also be refunded by CMV.

“CMV would like to apologise for the disruption caused and will ensure all passengers are kept fully informed.

“The health and safety of all passengers and crew is of paramount importance to Cruise & Maritime Voyages.”