An exhaustive sea search for an elderly British woman thought to have gone overboard from the Cunard flagship Queen Mary 2 came to an end on Christmas Eve, newspapers in the UK reported.
The woman, aged 74, was on a Caribbean cruise that left New York the week before Christmas. She disappeared in the middle of the night in circumstances which remain unexplained. No trace of her has been found.
According to the London Daily Telegraph, crew raised the alarm when the ship was about 100 nautical miles (185 kilometres) southeast of Atlantic City in New Jersey.
The huge ocean liner stopped and turned back as the US Coast Guard sprang into action, scrambling a C-130 plane and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to help in the search.
A company spokesman said: “It is with sadness we can confirm that after a comprehensive search, working with all relevant authorities, Queen Mary 2 has halted the search for a missing guest, presumed overboard.
“The ship left New York on December 22, on a 12-night Caribbean itinerary. Cunard’s care team is offering every support to the family.
“The ship is now back on course to reach St Maarten on December 26 as scheduled.”
As cruise experts often point out, it is profoundly difficult, if not impossible, to fall overboard from a modern cruise liner. Misadventure or volition is usually involved, though in this case, the cause has not yet been officially determined.
Written by Peter Needham