Cruise axed as liner limps home
Passengers have paid up to £42,000 for the P&O cruise
The troubled £200m luxury liner Aurora is returning to England after P&O cancelled its ill-fated world cruise.
Hundreds of passengers, who paid up to £41,985 each for the 103-day trip, are heading back to Southampton after work failed to fix its propulsion problems.
They have spent 10 days on the cruise ship, which was due to take in 23 countries but, until Wednesday, had got no further than the Isle of Wight.
P&O said passengers would be refunded and offered money off another cruise.
Aurora is expected to be back in Southampton by midnight on Thursday and the passengers will disembark on Friday morning.
She was en-route to the Portuguese island of Madeira and was about 25 miles from its start point when P&O announced it had been cancelled.
Overnight tests on the repairs showed that the vessel could not "achieve the required speed to complete the Grand Voyage".
A spokeswoman for P&O's parent company Carnival, said that the cancellation of the cruise was likely to cost the company around £20m.
We have tried to make their time on board as enjoyable as possible
Timeline of a troubled liner
The company said: "P&O Cruises apologised for the disappointment this has caused passengers and offers its assurance that everything possible was done to get Aurora's Grand Voyage under way before this difficult but unavoidable decision was taken."
It said that passengers would be refunded their full fare and receive "cruise credit" worth 25% of the amount they paid for their holiday if they booked another cruise holiday before the end of January 2007.
Passengers paid between £9,800 and £41,985 for a trip of a lifetime, which had been due to depart on 9 January to take in 23 countries and 40 ports of call.
Later some of the stops, including Barbados, Honolulu and San Francisco, were taken off the itinerary because of the delays.
Of the 1,752 passengers booked on the cruise, 385 had already left when the techical problems became apparent.
P&O apologised to passengers after cancelling the world cruise
Those who remained were treated to free drinks and entertainment from comedians Jimmy Tarbuck and Tom O'Connor, magician Paul Daniels, and singer Elaine Page, while the ship was stuck in port.
The P&O spokeswoman said passengers were "naturally disappointed" about the cruise, but added: "We have tried to make their time on board as enjoyable as possible." The German-built ship, launched in 2000, has suffered bad luck since it was named by the Princess Royal and the champagne bottle did not smash, which is considered a bad omen.
It broke down in the Bay of Biscay on its maiden voyage and, in October 2003, was hit by an outbreak of the contagious norovirus.
P&O said the Aurora was likely to be out of action for a month while repairs are being carried out in either the UK or Germany.