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Nightmare fades as cruise ship sails

The troubled holiday cruise on board the QE2 finally assumed normality yesterday with the liner heading for the Caribbean as its passengers celebrated Christmas Day.

Travellers sat down to Christmas lunch as the vessel followed a southerly course off the United States at Fort Lauderdale in Florida.

The ship set sail from New York on Saturday after coastguards were satisfied that several safety hazards found on board had been corrected.

Peter Ludlow, a passenger travelling with his fiancee, Merrilyn Wesley, said from the ship last night that the situation was almost normal. He added: "The crew have been absolutely splendid in trying to make amends, and everybody is determined to make this a holiday.

"There is still debris lying about. Parts of the ship have been ruled out of bounds, but generally speaking, things are improving."

The ship had been stranded in New York because marine safety inspectors had complained about " fire hazards".They were particularly worried about stacked building materials in gangways, and holes in a bulkhead.