By Andrew Downe in Rio de Janeiro and Amy Iggulden
Passengers on the cruise liner Queen Mary 2 who missed out on scheduled stops because of damage to the ship have called off their threatened sit-in protest after the owner Cunard agreed to give them a full refund.
The 2,620 passengers on board the world's largest and most expensive cruise liner have spent six days as "virtual hostages" at sea after the ship suffered damage to one of its propeller pods and cancelled three port stops in the Caribbean and Brazil.
Many of the passengers launched a group legal action and said they would refuse to leave the ship when it docked in Rio de Janeiro after Cunard offered them a 50 per cent refund on the 12-day leg of the 38-day cruise, which cost up to £17,000.
Yesterday Cunard's president, Carol Marlow, said the passengers would now receive either a full refund or half of their money back plus a voucher for another cruise worth 75 per cent of their outlay.
"We've made this offer because we've seen our guests were not happy" said Miss Marlow, who flew to Rio to meet disgruntled passengers. "This wasn't a true Cunard voyage and we wanted to put that right."
The damage to the ship occurred two days after leaving New York when it hit the edge of the shipping channel in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
It meant the ship had to wait for two days to leave the port and then travel at a slower speed, causing it to miss scheduled stops in St Kitts, Barbados and Salvador, in north-east Brazil.
"We were very disappointed that we didn't get to see all the stops," said Philip Franks, a Lincolnshire farmer who took the 12-day cruise with his wife. "We had never been to the Caribbean and we paid to see it. We were prisoners on a luxury ship. People were very upset."
Mr Franks said anger had boiled over during meetings with the ship's commodore. Irate passengers had shouted at officials, launched legal action and threatened to lock themselves in their cabins during the ship's abbreviated stop in Rio.
A spokesman for Cunard said it had originally been hoped that passengers would find "plenty to enjoy" on board, even if the vessel did not make any of its scheduled stops before Rio.
Its late offer, on the eve of the arrival in Brazil, diffused most of the anger.
"They came up with the full refund and we don't think we can get any more than that," said Neville Smith, a retired electrical engineer from Essex.
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