John Sergeant is heading off around the world on an all-expenses-paid cruise, days after quitting Strictly Come Dancing.

The political correspondent has landed a contract giving after dinner speeches and showing off his dance skills on a cruise around the Panama Canal, according to reports in The Telegraph.

The trip begins six days after his last appearance on the BBC1 talent show, due to air on Saturday night.

John, 64, will visit nine countries in 14 days on the P&O ship, Oceana.

It has been reported that the cruise was booked before Strictly began – but John denied that the two events were connected.

John quit Strictly Come Dancing this week following ongoing criticism by the judges and speculation that he would go on to win the show on the strength of the public vote.

In a statement this week, Sergeant said: “It was always my intention to have fun on the show and I was hoping to stay in as long as possible. The trouble is that there is now a real danger that I might win the competition. Even for me that would be a joke too far.”

The Telegraph also reports that Strictly’s producers are considering a new ‘three strikes and you’re out’ rule, which would be adopted for the next series, forcing a contestant who finishes bottom of the judges’ leader board for three weeks in a row to be automatically ejected.

A spokesman for P&O said: “No doubt John will give some tango tips.”