A DOUBLE transplant patient has told of his ordeal when a cruise ship adventure turned into a nightmare.

John Hearfield was on board the Van Gogh when it collided with a Greek oil tanker while en-route from Gibraltar to Tangier, in Morocco a fortnight ago.

Mr Hearfield and his wife, Dee, from Hunton, near Bedale, North Yorkshire, were two of about 500 mostly British passengers on board the ship.

The 48-year-old said the thought of the trip had kept him going after a life-threatening illness last year.

He said: "I needed a liver and kidney transplant -we were not sure if I was going to survive.

"My wife said to me if I did get well, we would go on a cruise together.

"But it turned out to be a complete and utter disaster. It has put us off every going on a cruise again."

The couple's nightmare trip started when Mr Hearfield needed hospital treatment after he gashed his leg in Falmouth, Cornwall, before the start of the eight-day Mediterranean tour.

The ship then crashed a mile from Gibraltar harbour in thick fog on day five of the cruise.

Despite damage to the Van Gogh's bow, it was able to return to Gibraltar on its own.

The couple spent three days in Gibraltar before they were bussed through Spain to board a ship back to the UK.

Mr Hearfield is critical of Travelscope, the company that organised the trip.

He said: "They kept us in the dark and then asked us to sign a disclaimer saying we would not take action against them.

"There was nothing to do in Gibraltar and when my wife found out we had to go on another boat from Santander, she was very upset.

"She is a strong woman, but she cried in her sleep for two nights.

"We were just so glad to get back safe and sound to our little cottage -it was a horrendous experience."

Port authorities blamed the collision on the fog.

Travelscope director Tim Knight said the majority of passengers were satisfied with their treatment by the company.

He said: "Overall, people understood that the situation was outside our control.

"In the first 24 hours, it is difficult to assess what happened. Even during that period, regular announcements were made."