PASSENGERS struck down by a norovirus outbreak aboard the Southampton-based cruise ship Oriana have launched a battle for compensation.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell LLP is already acting on behalf of ten holidaymakers and says new enquiries are coming in all the time.

Clients include Stephen and Angela Baker, of Totton, who were both hit by the winter vomiting bug.

The couple, who paid a total of £1,000 for the voyage, spent half the ten-day cruise in their cabin and say the outbreak ruined their |holiday.

Mr Baker, 65, was taken ill on the fourth day of the trip – dubbed “the holiday from hell” by some of his fellow passengers.

“Halfway through the night I woke up with terrible stomach pains and vomiting, which was followed by diarrhoea. I’d never experienced anything like it,” he said.

Mrs Baker, 60-year-old retired nurse, contracted the virus twice and was even more badly affected than her husband.

She said: “After we were taken ill one or both of us was always confined to our cabin. It was a pretty miserable experience – we both felt so poorly.

“The second time I was ill I was in so much pain.”

The couple say they would never have boarded the vessel if they had been told that passengers on the Oriana’s previous cruise had also been struck down by norovirus.

Mrs Baker added: “It wasn’t in port long enough to be deep cleaned properly.

“One of our fellow passengers found a pair of slippers under their bed from the previous voyage and someone else discovered a set of photographs that had also been left behind.”

As reported in the Daily Echo about 300 passengers were affected by norovirus. Many were confined to the cabins, unable to see some of the Baltic cities on the Christmas market cruise.

Some holidaymakers compared the experience to being in prison when they returned to Southampton last Friday.

P&O Cruises has issued an apology to holidaymakers and has pledged to refund all medical expenses they incurred on board.

Managing director Carol Marlow said the company had rigorous cleaning protocols in place. She admitted that a “few” cases of norovirus were reported on Oriana’s previous cruise but claimed the liner was “fresh and clean” when it left Southampton.

Last night a P&O spokesman said anyone with concerns should write to Ms Marlow at the company’s Southampton headquarters.