A cruise ship leaving the Grand Harbour on Saturday suffered an engine failure which left it powerless near the port entrance.

The ship drifted for around 100 metres before the captain was forced to drop anchor in order to avoid hitting the breakwater.

Owned by the company Tui, the ship blocked the harbour’s entrance for about an hour before finally sailing off, its engines running again. Two tug boats helped secure the ship in order to stop it moving around with the currents. At one point the cruise ship ended up parallel to the breakwater.

The passengers gathered on deck to ‘enjoy’ their unexpected longer stay in Malta, while a number of onlookers gathered at the Upper and Lower Barrakka gardens as the spectacle unfolded.

The cruise ship, called Thomson Celebration, sails under the Maltese flag.

It was built in 1984 and is 194 metres long with a beam of 27 metres. Her gross tonnage is 33,933 tons.

The ship yesterday docked safely in Messina as part of its Mediterranean tour.

It was helped out of the Grand Harbour by a tugboat.

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