FIRST their luxury voyage around the Canary Islands was cut short by three days when a propeller broke.

But when cruise ship Oriana returned early to Southampton, disappointed passengers saw their dream holiday go from bad to worse – with the outbreak of a winter vomiting bug.

Rather than soaking up the sun, dozens of guests were being sick while temperatures at Southampton docks plummeted towards freezing.

One couple has already threatened legal action after the double blow, which they said had caused their dream holiday to “fall apart”.

As previously reported, the P&O ship returned to port from Fuerteventura on Wednesday due to a propeller fault and passengers were given the option of staying on board and using the facility until Saturday.

But 57 people on board were then struck down with a vomiting bug, believed to be the highly contagious norovirus.

It eventually left for Stavanger, in Norway, as part of its North Cape winter cruise, early yesterday morning – more than 12 hours behind schedule.

P&O Cruises has offered refunds and compensation to passengers, but some holiday-makers have said they might take legal action.

In December 2012 the same bug broke out on board the ship, leaving hundreds of passengers suffering from sickness and forcing them to be quarantined for 48 hours.

Tony Robotham went on the recent cruise with his wife Brenda and friends to celebrate his retirement, and stayed on board when the ship docked at Southampton.

The 65-year-old’s suspicions were aroused when he noticed that passages were cordoned off and cleaning equipment was being used, and he was eventually told it was down to an outbreak of norovirus. It was at that point he said that he decided to “abandon ship”.

He said: “This holiday has completely fallen apart. When we found out norovirus was on board we said enough’s enough.”

Mr Robotham has now contacted his solicitor about the holiday. He added: “We’d only been going a few days when they told us they would not be stopping at La Palma. It was surprising to me that they continued to sail on further from home. From the original itinerary that we booked we missed five ports.”

Talking about potential legal action, Mr Robotham, from Leicester, said: “I’m sorry to do this to P&O Cruises but I just feel that there’s not been enough information to give us a choice. I got the impression that we weren’t getting the full truth.”

A spokesman for P&O Cruises said the bug was believed to be norovirus, adding: “Enhanced sanitation protocols have been implemented to help minimize transmission to other passengers. The safety and comfort of passengers and crew is always our number one priority.”

Passengers had already been offered a 40 per cent cash refund, or a 100 per cent credit towards a future cruise, following the propeller fault.