Almost 200 cruise line passengers have been awarded a combined settlement of several hundred thousand pounds after they suffered ''atrocious'' conditions and an outbreak of illness during their holiday.
The passengers complained that the toilets aboard the Island Escape cruise ship were blocked, with urine overflowing, they were not warned of illness prior to boarding, food was served lukewarm, and new food added to existing food during the cruise.
Specialist travel lawyers at Irwin Mitchell secured the settlement against Sunshine Cruises Limited, TUI UK Limited and First Choice Holidays & Flights, although liability has not been formally admitted for causing passengers to become ill on board.
Some of the passengers have received up to £10,000 each in the payout.
The settlement relates to a period between December 2009 and June 2010 with destinations including Morocco, Gibraltar, Madeira and Las Palmas.
Elizabeth Tetzner, a travel law expert from Irwin Mitchell, said: ''A number of the passengers that suffered illness suffered from symptoms such as stomach cramps, diarrhoea, vomiting and lethargy.
''Aside from making the cruise extremely unpleasant, these types of illness can have a debilitating long term impact on their health. Some passengers had to seek medical assistance on board the cruise ship, whilst others had to seek medical assistance upon return home.
''Within the group who travelled on board the cruise ship in 2009 and 2010 were passengers who were looking to enjoy Christmas, wedding anniversary celebrations including a 50th wedding anniversary and birthday celebrations such as a 75th birthday party.
''Those passengers have described to us how these special occasions were ruined by the illness suffered or by the experiences they suffered on board the cruise ship.
''We hope that now a settlement has been reached they will be able to get on with their lives and put the experience behind them.''
Collette Ellis, 59, from Fareham, Hampshire, booked a two-week cruise to celebrate Christmas, New Year and her mother's 75th birthday on the Island Escape ship.
But within days the entire family were struck with stomach cramps and sickness which left them confined to their cabin for the majority of their holiday. Both Mrs Ellis and her mother still experience gastric symptoms.
She said: ''We are happy that we have received justice after our holiday was totally ruined.
''The conditions aboard the vessel were atrocious. On occasions toilets were blocked and overflowing, cabins were grubby and on occasions food was not served at the correct temperature.
''This was supposed to be a dream cruise but it quickly turned into an absolute nightmare, certainly a Christmas time we wanted to forget.
''On our return home both myself and my mum, who was celebrating her 75th birthday continued to suffer illness. We are just glad it's over for us now and we can move on with our lives. We hope no one else has to go through such an experience like we did.''