A couple whose “bucket list” cruise turned into a fight for life now have their feet back on dry land.

Chris and Carrie Clough from Billingham set off on their 99-night P&O cruise from Southampton in January to mark 20 years of marriage and two milestone birthdays.

Mr Clough, who is a councillor for the Billingham West ward, said everything went well on the first leg of their trip to San Francisco.

However, a measles outbreak in the South Pacific and the looming Covid-19 pandemic meant diversions to Australia and South Africa with ports closed.

Mrs Clough, who needs a wheelchair to get around, then suffered a potentially deadly pulmonary embolism in the Indian Ocean.

“Had it not been for the excellent medical department on board, she may well have died,” Mr Clough said.

Limbo outside Durban, in South Africa, saw the ship at anchor for days on end as Mrs Clough’s medical supplies ran low.

But a breakthrough was reached late last month when the 8,000 tonne MV Arcadia was allowed to restock before a long trip to Tenerife, with the couple finally reaching England at the weekend.

Mr Clough said he was happy to be home but admitted the lockdown conditions had been a shock to the system.

“Even though there was social distancing on the ship, you could still talk to other people and we were having a more or less normal existence,” he said.

“Now you get people crossing the road to avoid you. But it’s nice to be home even though we have the lockdown.”