A couple have been detained after a "large amount of cocaine" was found on a cruise ship returning from the Caribbean.

The suspects, aged 72 and 70, were detained on suspicion of trafficking narcotics moments after the ship docked at the terminal in Portugal.

Portuguese police said they arrested the pair in Lisbon after receiving information from the UK National Crime Agency (NCA).

The force said they found 20-22lb (9-10kg) of the class A drug hidden in four suitcases.

The couple were arrested when the cruise ship docked in Lisbon and their cabin was searched. Credit: Policia Judiciaria

The force said: "In the cabin that was occupied by the suspects, four suitcases (were found) in whose structures was concealed a high amount of product, more specifically cocaine."

The pensioners have appeared before a judge and are being held in custody while a joint Portuguese and British investigation continues.

They were travelling on board the Marco Polo, operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages.

It had left Tilbury in Essex on November 5 and travelled to the West Indies and Azores with 610 passengers and 294 crew on board.

After the pair were arrested, the ship continued on its planned route and returned to the UK on December 8.

A company spokesman said: "Portuguese police officials attended the Marco Polo in Lisbon on December 4 and detained two passengers who were travelling on board the Cruise and Maritime Voyages vessel.

"It is understood this was in connection with the suspected possession of narcotics. Cruise and Maritime Voyages is co-operating fully with the Portuguese police officials."

He said the firm "does not tolerate any criminal activity or anti-social behaviour on board its ships".