Cunard's £300 million MS Queen Victoria - which was officially launched by Camilla in Southampton three weeks ago when she failed to successfully smash the champagne bottle on its side - has been struck by a potentially fatal stomach bug.
The Norovirus, the "winter sickness bug", which causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea has infected 78 of the passengers on the liner's second cruise, to the Canary Islands, and they have been confined to their cabins. Passengers - which include former Formula 1 champion Sir Jackie Stewart - have already dubbed it the "cruise from hell", listing poor room service, blocked toilets, a lack of Christmas decorations, cold food and extra charges for tea and coffee among their complaints. The disgruntled holiday-makers plan to sue for compensation after up to four days living on sips of water and anti-nausea injections administered by medical staff. A former NHS nurse, who asked not to be named, told Britain's The Mail on Sunday newspaper: "My parents spent two years saving £6,000 for this. Now, their trip has been ruined. "My father was taken to the ship's hospital on Christmas Day. My mother succumbed on Thursday. They and the others suffering vomiting and diarrhoea have been forced to stay in their cabins." Camilla failed to break the champagne bottle on the side of the ship, while naming the Queen Victoria earlier this month (10.12.07). Camilla pushed the button to send the bottle swinging against Cunard's new luxury liner at the official naming ceremony in Southampton, but it bounced off the boat and dangled unbroken. Superstitious seamen believe this is a bad omen and will leave the vessel cursed.