A cruise firm is being taken to court for the fourth consecutive year by passengers struck down by a vomiting bug on one of its ships.

Lawyers for ten passengers are launching legal action against Southampton-based P&O cruises after an outbreak of norovirus on the Oriana.

Passengers suffered stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea on what should have been a dream holiday.

Law firm Irwin Mitchell Travel Litigation is taking action for the fourth year running. It secured damages of £70,000 for 24 passengers falling ill after separate outbreaks in 2011 and 2012 and are working on behalf of 16 passengers falling victim last year.

The latest bug struck in March when 57 people fell ill on a 12-day Norwegian cruise.

Patricia Horgan booked the trip for a 60th birthday celebration and was among those confined to their cabins by the crippling symptoms when she fell ill on the final three days.

Ms Horgan, of Cornwall, who spent the last of her savings on the cruise was so sick she was unable to care for her partner Mark Forrest, an amputee, who fell ill shortly afterwards.

She said: “This was meant to be a very special holiday.

“I’ve never felt so ill. It knocked me for six.

“We paid a considerable sum of money for this trip and it was a nightmare..”

A similar bug struck in December 2012 causing 417 people to fall ill and led to angry passengers holding mass protest meetings.

They were furious they had not been told of an outbreak on a previous voyage. The ship underwent a deep clean.

Irwin Mitchell legal specialist Jennifer Downing said: “Any reports of illness on board cruise ships or at holiday resorts across the world are a concern but it is a particular concern that this is the fourth year in a row that we have been asked by passengers to help following episodes of illness on board.

“Guidelines are in place for cruise ship operators to follow and we will be working to determine what P&O has done to investigate and resolve any underlying issues following the problems experienced in recent years.”

A P&O spokeswoman said the company would not comment on ongoing legal action.