A Wigan dad has spoken of the terrifying moment he woke to find that the ferry carrying him to Spain was on fire in the middle of the sea.
James Bradley, from Ince, was travelling to Santander overnight from Plymouth on Sunday when he was woken by an ear-splitting alarm sounding from the ship.
The dad-of-seven, who had just set out on a six-day trip to southern Spain with a friend, said that the siren began to sound at around 4am this morning (Monday).
Disorientated passengers were ushered inside one of the large halls by Britannia Ferry staff and ordered to put their life jackets on.
“It was scary,” said 45-year-old Jay. “I was thinking ‘I’m going to actually have to use this life jacket’.
“It’s definitely not something you expect to happen at 4am - or at all really.
“They kept us all inside and cut the Wifi off. We didn’t know what was going on.
“I had texted my partner to say there was a fire on the boat and then they turned the internet off.
“We were right in the middle of the Bay of Biscay so I had no signal and wasn’t able to let her know I was okay.”
Passengers watched as a helicopter hovered over the ship, dropping off French firefighters who tackled the blaze.
Jay said they were told that flames had broken out in the engine room of the Pont-Aven vessel and that the boat would be running with just one engine.
After around an hour, the guests were told they could remove their life jackets but that the boat would not be stopping at its intended destination.
Instead of arriving at Santander at 11am on Monday morning, the ferry was diverted, eventually docking at Brest in north western France at 4pm.
“We have now ended up further away than if we had just taken the ferry from Dover,” added Jay.
“It’s gone from a 10-hour drive to Torreviaja to a 28-hour drive all the way through France.
“I couldn’t believe it when I woke up and the alarm was sounding. I thought it was some kind of joke."
Of the more than 800 people travelling on the ferry, no one was injured.
The coastguard followed the vessel for the remainder of the journey and when the ship docked there were dozens of police officers waiting on land to board.