P&O Cruises has issued an apology to passengers after being forced to cut a cruise short by a day due to gales which swept across the UK yesterday.

Winds gusting at more than 50 knots prevented the ship Oriana from moving to a terminal in Southampton where it could board passengers safely.

A four-night cruise due to depart to Guernsey and Belgium yesterday was delayed by 24 hours with passengers receiving a 50% refund.

Those due to leave the ship after a 12-night Norway and Northern Lights cruise were given the option of staying on board for an extra night in port.

“For those staying on board all bars will remain open and there will be a full programme of entertainment as well as dinner with complimentary wine,” the line said.

“Passengers joining Oriana for the next cruise will be boarding from lunchtime and will receive a 50% refund on the price of their holiday due to the 24-hour delay.”

The company put 1,500 delayed passengers up in hotels overnight in and around Southampton.

Oriana was moved to the Ocean Terminal at 8pm last night, enabling passengers to leave if they wished.

Boarding for the next cruise is due from lunchtime today (Wednesday) with the line saying that both ports of call – St Peter Port and Zeebrugge for Bruges – will be maintained.

“We apologise for the delay and disruption to passengers,” the company said.

It used its Facebook page and text messages to keep travellers updated on developments.