PASSENGERS on board a Southamptonbased cruise ship have held two protest meetings amid claims that hundreds have been struck down with a vomiting bug.

P&O’s Oriana has been hit by an outbreak of norovirus on a cruise around the Baltic.

Travellers on board the ship, which is currebtly in Hamburg and is due to return to Southampton on Friday, have contacted the Daily Echo claiming there are more than 400 people who have fallen ill with sickness and diarrhoea.

But P&O’s parent company, Carnival, says there have only been nine recorded cases of the stomach bug, Passenger Chris Meadows from Southampton said that voyagers were only informed there was norovirus on board after they had checked in for the cruise, which left Southampton on Tuesday, December 4.

He said the buffet restaurant had been closed since the second night and crew had been dictating where and when passengers could eat.

He even described how one female passenger returned to her cabin to find her steward vomiting into her toilet bowl.

Chris, who is travelling with partner Vanessa Herrington, added: “Onboard events and activities have been greatly reduced, leaving us with very little to do and spending most of our time in our cabins.

“It is estimated that over 400 people have been stuck down with the virus, with a minimum time of 48 hours being confined in their cabin.

“However, partners of those who are affected and not ill are free to come and go from quarantined cabins thus potentially spreading the virus to others.

“This is my first ever cruise and my partner’s 19th cruise.

She has never experienced such a horrendous holiday, and it has left me wanting to be back home and not wanting to set foot on another cruise ship in fear of another disastrous holiday.”

A Carnival spokesman told the Daily Echo: “There are 1,843 passengers on board, the number of passengers with active symptoms today [Tuesday] is nine.

“As is currently standard procedure across our fleet, all the ship’s passengers were provided with a precautionary health notice advising of widespread norovirus activity and the health measures to avoid contraction and spread, both on board and whilst ashore.

“The captain is regularly updating the passengers and crew on the situation and advising passengers with gastrointestinal symptoms to report to the medical centre.

“Unwell passengers are asked to comply with the doctor’s instructions and isolate themselves in their cabin until non-contagious.”

P&O Cruises has promised to refund all medical expenses incurred in relation to the illness.