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‘Abnormal’ turbulence sends 11 passengers to hospital returning from Christmas cruise

Gérard Bottino/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images/Fichier

A dream vacation on P&O Cruises’ ship Arvia (file photo) turned into a nightmare on the flight home.

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It sounded like the perfect festive break: a cruise around the sunny Caribbean, before heading back to the cold and wet UK just in time for Christmas.

But an idyllic holiday turned into a nightmare for the 225 British passengers on P&O Cruises’ Caribbean Fly-Cruise, after their chartered return flight experienced “abnormal” turbulence, landing some passengers in hospital and delaying their return from everyone until after Christmas.

Passengers had booked one- or two-week cruises on the luxury ship Arvia. With no less than four swimming pools and 30 bars and restaurants on board, this would be a dream trip around top Caribbean destinations including Antigua, Saint Lucia and the Dominican Republic.

In the event, the cruise went as planned. But getting home in time for Christmas was a different story.

The passengers boarded a charter plane, organized by the cruise line, to transport them from Barbados to Manchester on December 23, but shortly after takeoff, the plane experienced every traveler’s nightmare: clear air turbulence, impossible to predict. The flight lasted two and a half hours, as the Airbus 300-200, operated by Maleth Aero, cruised at 38,000 feet.

The plane diverted to LF Wade Airport in Bermuda, where 11 passengers were taken to hospital. A P&O Cruises spokesperson confirmed that all were released on the same day. None of the 13 crew members were injured.

But their mission to return home for Christmas was still thwarted, as the flight could not be resumed until December 26. Instead, passengers were put up in hotels in Bermuda at the cruise line’s expense.

The repatriation flight was due to take off on Tuesday afternoon and return to the UK on the morning of Wednesday 27 December.

Frédéric J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

The dream cruise took place in Saint Lucia.

A Bermuda government spokesperson said in a statement released to local news outlet Bernews that all injuries were minor.

They added: “At approximately 12:50 a.m., Maleth Aero Flight 1975, en route from Barbados to Manchester, experienced severe turbulence, necessitating an emergency landing at LF Wade International Airport.

“The plane made a controlled landing on the island.

“Emergency medical technicians from the Bermuda Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) met the aircraft to provide initial passenger assessments and pre-hospital care.

“As a precautionary measure, the aircraft will remain grounded until a full inspection is completed, ensuring the safety and integrity of the aircraft.”

Bermuda’s Acting Minister of National Security, Owen Darrell, added in a statement: “We are extremely grateful for the rapid response of all our emergency services personnel who ensured the safety of passengers and the crew. »

A P&O Cruises spokesperson told CNN in a statement: “As a result of abnormal (unexpected) turbulence, a flight from Barbados to Manchester was diverted to Bermuda on Sunday morning.

“After exploring all flight options and due to airport hours, guests were placed in hotels in Bermuda. The return flight will now depart at 4 p.m. today (Tuesday).

“We are truly sorry for this disruption to travel following their vacation and have been working around the clock with the airline and hotels to care for guests and ensure they return home as quickly as possible.”

They added that passengers received seven text messages and five letters to keep them informed during the three days of their stay in Bermuda.

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