The words ‘sun-loungers’ and ‘Monte Carlo’ will never have the same connotation again for more than 1,000 passengers from P&O’s luxury Azura ship after being left stranded overnight and forced to sleep in makeshift beds in the cold.

In a bizarre turn of events 1,170 passengers joyfully disembarked their cruise liner for a day of sightseeing in one of the world’s luxury tourism locations in the south of France. As night began to fall and they returned to the port to be tendered back to their ship they were forced to wait due to an unexpectedly large swell.

But what happened next has left the passengers irate, cold and tired. Instead of being housed in hotel accommodation, these holiday-makers were taken to an old basketball court where they were offered towels as blankets, and sun-loungers, sheets of cardboard and tables as beds and huddled together on the floor or outdoors in the cold.

Stranded in Monte Carlo
P&O passengers forced to sleep on the floor

Mum-of-two Julie Rowson was one of the stranded travellers and said “It was horrendous. It’s spoilt our holiday.

“We were supposed to be spending the day in the most luxurious and expensive place on earth but had to spend the night sleeping on a floor.

“I’m very angry and upset. It’s a disgrace. It was very cold. There were a lot of elderly people there.”

The passengers had left the ship for their day out at 10am on Saturday. But they could not return until 10am the following day.

Monte Carlo on a good day
The day should have been relaxing

Another angry passenger, Customer services adviser Julie, 47, of Cannock, Staffs, said the ride to Monaco on small tender boats earlier on was bumpy.

She added: “The P&O people were telling us it was fine to travel but the sea was very rough. When we got there it was lovely. It’s a brilliant place. It was great to see how the other half live.

“In the afternoon we made our way back to go back on the lifeboats to get on the cruise and there were problems. There was delay after delay. It was getting very cold.

“By 10.45pm we were told we could not travel and we were going to this basketball court.

P&O's Azure
Rough swell prevented the return

“We were told there was a swell in the water. We were just given towels.”

The Mediterranean cruise’s next stop is at Cartagena in Spain. It ends in Southampton this weekend.

A spokesman for P&O Cruises said: “Due to unexpected poor sea conditions it was necessary to stop tender operations in Monte Carlo yesterday.

“Shelter and food were provided by the ship’s crew for those guests still on shore.

A rough night
A rough night in ‘luxurious’ Monte Carlo

“Guests travelled from Monte Carlo to neighbouring Villefranche where the tendering operations were resumed.

“All guests are now back on board. We are so sorry that this happened.

“It’s certainly not what we would ever want for our guests but safety is our absolute priority.”