PASSENGERS on a Southampton-based cruise ship will have to spend an additional three days in Barcelona as the vessel undergoes emergency repairs.

P&O has confirmed Oceana will spend an additional three days in the Spanish city after it sets sail tomorrow (Saturday).

In a letter to passengers, firm director Christopher Edgington said the ship has developed an issue with the seal that goes around the propeller shaft.

The company, which is based at Carnival House in the city, has stressed the damage has no impact on the safety of the ship, but repair work requires extra time in port.

It means calls to Alghero, Cartagena and La Courna have been replaced with an extended stay in Barcelona.

In the letter, Mr Edgington apologised to customers and wrote: “Oceana has developed an issue with the seal between the inside and outside of the ship that goes around the propeller shaft.

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“Rest assured, there is absolutely no safety issue whatsoever with us operating the ship. We think this has been caused by a foreign object getting into the seal and damaging it.

“As with any mechanical issue, we need to fix it as soon as possible to avoid any further damage.

“In order to make the required repair we require a specialist dive team to work on the shaft seals underwater who need around 70 hours whilst the ship is stationary in port to do this. The work will be taking place at the stern of the ship and will be clearly visible to passengers.

“Whilst having to take this decision we considered the impact this was going to have on our customers, and what we could do to make sure they still had a great holiday. We decided on Barcelona to make this repair because it is a fantastic city with lots to see and do with great bars and restaurants.

“Oceana will of course be fully functional whilst alongside in Barcelona, there will be no impact at all on the ship's services or programme of entertainment.

“I am really sorry that we have to do this, but our ships are like any piece of machinery, they do develop issues which need fixing whilst in service. Normally these can be undertaken without any impact on the cruise programme, but as this requires divers and 70 hours in port we had no other option but to get this done as soon as possible.”

A spokesman for P&O said: “Customers will receive a 25 per cent cash refund and a comprehensive programme of entertainment and shore excursions will be available whilst in Barcelona.”