A ST Helens couple’s dream holiday turned into a nightmare when they were both struck down with a horrendous illness while on a week-long luxury cruise.
David and Eileen Southworth, of Rainhill, say they were among scores of passengers who contracted the vomiting bug norovirus while aboard the Ruby Princess cruise liner in the Caribbean.
Mr Southworth, 73, who had organised the extra-special trip to mark his wife’s 70th birthday, has since described it as the “holiday from hell”.
He said: “Everything was alright until the Wednesday afternoon, when I fell ill and had to skip the evening meal. I was then very ill during the night.
“Although I perked up a bit the following afternoon there was no way I could eat and then, on the Friday, I was just staggering around trying to enjoy myself - but all I could do was drink water.
“Then, on the Saturday, my wife fell ill, we called the medical centre and were sent tablets and confined to our cabin.
“They made special arrangements for us to depart and in the middle of Sunday morning I took ill again. I was so dizzy and disorientated that they offered me a wheelchair.”
Mr and Mrs Southworth, who were joined on the cruise last month by six friends, say only two of their group made it through the week unscathed.
And the Southworths told of their relief at finally arriving back home after a 20-hour journey in which they felt like “a mess”.
Mr Southworth, a father-of-two, added: “It was such a shame - it should have been a lovely cruise. We’d saved up for this holiday for quite and it cost us about £1,400. We could have had two good holidays somewhere else for that.
“All they said was ‘sorry you didn’t have a good time’, which wasn’t much of a consolation.
“My wife was still too ill to go into work on the Tuesday after we got back and I was in no fit state to do anything.”
Lawyer Clive Garner, head of Irwin Mitchell’s travel law team, is now acting on behalf of a number of the ship’s passengers, including the Southworths.
A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said: “We are sorry that Mr and Mrs Southworth were unwell during their cruise and in response to their concerns our passenger relations team have been in direct contact with them.
“Norovirus is a common illness affecting schools, hospitals, nursing homes and children’s day care centres in the UK and around the world, and we do all we can to minimise the impact when it is brought onboard one of our ships.”