A WIDOW has spoken about her experience stuck onboard a world cruise ship that has been left stranded over the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elly Clough, 80, embarked on a trip-of-a-lifetime in January when she set sail from Southampton on P&O's luxury Arcadia liner, along with more than 2,000 fellow passengers.

The retired bridge teacher, from the village of Ramsdell near Tadley, was due to spend 100 days at sea travelling the world.

However the vessel has been left anchored off the coast of South Africa after being refused permission to dock.

"We have no knowledge of what is going on. We can't move because we've run out of fuel and water," Elly told the Gazette.

Elly said passengers are being kept under strict instructions not to socialise and would have to remain onboard until the boat returns to Southampton next month.

P&O said it was not be able to disembark guests or crew in Cape Town, amid ongoing concerns about the spread of coronavirus.

In a statement, the firm said: “The South African authorities have announced and are enforcing additional entry and travel restrictions because of the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Guests or crew are no longer permitted to disembark in South Africa."

As a result of this development, the luxury liner has been anchored at sea in Durban and plans to bunker fuel, stores and medication before setting off to return to Southampton.

Guests will only be able to leave where Arcadia is due to arrive on Sunday, April 12.

The journey had an unlucky start when just twelve days into the trip, it missed two ports in Australia due to a measles outbreak and then Colombo,

Philippines, Hong Kong and Dubai had to be avoided as Covid-19 rapidly spread through the east.

Elly, an 80-year-old widow, said she has been left confused and stressed about the situation. She said:”I am well but very stressed indeed, finding myself unable to eat and going to bed very early and sleeping for 10 hours.

“Yesterday afternoon, while we were at anchor, a doctor was transferred to the ship by helicopter to test three workers on the ship as they were due to disembark.”

She said during the night, there were two emergency call-outs.

Onboard, Elly said the crew are taking the pandemic seriously.

“We cannot sit with more than one person and have to keep one meter away from one another unless it is a partner.

“The bars are still open but no sitting at them any more. Some food outlets have been shut down.

But Elly praised staff who have been fantastic throughout. She said: “We are being really well cared for with maximum consideration to us all.”