An outbreak of the highly contagious norovirus stomach bug has struck passengers on board the luxury Southampton liner, Queen Mary 2.

Special, “enhanced” cleaning procedures are being undertaken by the ship's crew to contain the illness, which has effected a total of eight people, with active symptoms, out of the 2,462 passengers on board QM2.

A Cunard spokesman in Southampton said: “There has been an incidence of a mild gastrointestinal illness among the passengers on Queen Mary 2.

“This is suspected to be Norovirus, which is highly contagious and typically transmitted from person to person.

“Norovirus is common throughout the UK, Europe and North America and has affected a number of schools, hospitals, nursing homes and children's day care centres.

“Enhanced sanitation protocols have been implemented to help minimise transmission to other passengers.

“These comprehensive disinfection protocols have been developed by Cunard Line in conjunction with U.K. and U.S. public health authorities.QM2 is currently on a 13-night Canada and New England voyage which sailed from New York on Tuesday, September 10.

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