Illness wrecks Norfolk couple's dream holiday cruise

David BaleA retired couple today relived a nightmare cruise holiday in which they spent five days confined to their cabin after coming down with the winter vomiting bug, norovirus.David Bale

A retired couple today relived a nightmare cruise holiday in which they spent five days confined to their cabin after coming down with the winter vomiting bug, norovirus.

Grandparents-of-two Michael and Marie Bridge booked a holiday of a lifetime two-week cruise of the Canary Isles and Madeira, but after they spent just half a day enjoying the sights of Lanzarote on their first day trip, Mr Bridge was taken ill.

Mr Bridge, 70, a former BT engineer, was violently ill for three days and his wife for another two days.

By the time the couple, from Watton Road, Barford, near Norwich, were allowed back on deck, the Fred Olsen Cruise Lines ship, called the Boudicca, was heading back to port in Portsmouth a day early, because a number of passengers had been taken ill.

Mrs Bridge, 69, a former clerical officer, said: 'It was horrendous. We feel that we have spent a lot of money to be made ill and wretched.

'We missed all the shore trips except Lanzarote and the only views we had of the Canaries and Madeira were the concrete harbour wall from the port-hole.'

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The couple had set sail from Portsmouth on December 22.

When they arrived back in the UK, they discovered that the ship's two previous voyages had been cut short, because of an outbreak of the virus on board.

Mrs Bridge added: 'It was the first year that I had been able to book a holiday and get away from all the cooking and work, and just relax.

'But the whole holiday was a complete non-happening and I'm still suffering from a lack of appetite and tiredness now, although my husband has recovered.'

The couple, who had spent �3,000 on the holiday, were compensated by Fred Olsen for returning a day early and were also given �100 each extra as spending allowance.

Meanwhile, Clive Garner, head of travel litigation at Irwin Mitchell, said his team of lawyers have been asked to help more than 30 passengers who were struck by illness whilst travelling on the Boudicca cruise liner and also the Balmoral liner.

He said: 'We are acting for a growing number of passengers who became ill after taking cruises on Fred Olsen ships, the Boudicca and the Balmoral.

'The fact we are instructed to help passengers on two different Fred Olsen ships travelling on several different cruises between October 2009 and January 2010 is of major concern and we urge a thorough and speedy review of hygiene procedures on board all of the ships in the Fred Olsen fleet.'

A spokeswoman for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said that, with up to 500,000 people each week affected by the bug, it was to be expected that cruise lines - along with hospitals, schools and other institutions where people are together in close proximity - would also be affected.

She said: 'Every precaution possible is taken to prevent any gastro-type virus coming on board.

'At the end of the Christmas and New Year cruise, a thorough cleansing and disinfecting programme was carried out which was conducted by professional cleaning companies experienced in this type of work.'

Have you suffered recent holiday nightmare? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email