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Prescott has transatlantic cabin fever

For Lord Prescott, the one-time Deputy Prime Minister and cruise ship waiter, a transatlantic Christmas voyage aboard the Queen Mary 2 was meant to be a trip down memory lane.

But the peer's enjoyment has been curtailed as both he and his wife, Pauline, have been laid low by the winter vomiting bug, norovirus, among the ship's guests.

The couple are understood to have been confined to their cabin since they began to show symptoms. The virus, which is highly contagious, causes sudden nausea, projectile vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches and aching limbs.

Lord Prescott has given two speeches during the cruise en route to the Caribbean from New York, during which he is said to have regaled some of his 2,500 fellow passengers with stories about his days as a steward.

A spokesman for Cunard, which owns the 150,000-tonne cruise liner, confirmed that Lord and Lady Prescott were aboard, adding: "It's a relatively modest outbreak, with 29 passengers displaying symptoms."