HUNDREDS of people have had their holiday plans ruined after a Southampton based cruise ship has suffered a mechanical failure.

Cunard 's Queen Victoria has suffered a problem with one of its propulsion units with hundreds of passengers on board and it cannot travel at its top speed.

But it means Cunard has been forced to cancel a 16 night Mediterranean cruise due to depart on October 3 because the ship needs to undergo emergency work to fix the problem in Germany.

It is unknown how many holidaymakers had booked onto the Adriatic Discovery trip which was set to sail from Southampton and call at Cadiz, Katakolon, Corfu, Split, Venice, Dubrovnik and Malaga.

Tonight the cruise ship operator said all passengers have been contacted and have been offered a full refund or an alternative Cunard sailing .

A spokesman, said: “Cunard needs to carry out some essential maintenance work on Queen Victoria and has therefore taken the regrettable but unavoidable decision to cancel a 16 night Mediterranean voyage due to depart from Southampton on October 3.

“The work relates to one of Queen Victoria's propulsion units. Although there are no safety issues relating to this maintenance, it does preclude the ship achieving the speeds required to deliver the voyage itinerary and therefore it is necessary to take the ship out of service for a short period.”

Queen Victoria, which launched in 2007 and has 981 crew and a guest capacity of 1,990 is currently in the Atlantic Ocean off Portugal returning from a Mediterranean cruise where it suffered the problems with one of its propulsion units.

Cunard said there is no danger to the passengers currently on board.

The dry dock work to the ship will take place in Bremerhaven in Germany and the ship will return to service on Wednesday, October 17 with a two night voyage sailing from the city, a spokesman said.

Queen Victoria will then set out on her 23 night Caribbean voyage as brochured on October 19.

Peter Shanks, MD and President of Cunard, said: “We are very sorry to disrupt our passengers' travel plans.

“We are doing all we can to minimise the impact on our passengers and to help everyone affected find suitable alternative holidays.”