Desperate Search For Passenger Swept Overboard Off P&O Cruise Ship Called Off

A desperate search for a woman who fell overboard from a P&O cruise ship has been called off.

The woman fell overboard from Pacific Dawn around 4pm on Thursday, about 150 nautical miles west of New Caledonia.

A crew member raised the alarm around 4pm on Thursday, and the ‘man overboard’ incident response was activated straight away, with the ship turning around and retracing its course.

The desperate search – which continued at first light this morning – has now been called off.

“With the deepest sadness, P&O Cruises has confirmed the suspension of Pacific Dawn’s search,” Carnival Australia spokesman David Jones in a statement.

“The difficult decision to suspend the search was made only after expert advice that survival after this length of time in difficult sea conditions and after a full night at sea was not considered possible.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the guest’s family at this distressing time.”

Earlier, the company had stated that it would continue searching for the woman “while recognising expert advice that suggests hopes of survival in the prevailing sea conditions would have diminished significantly during the night.”

“Horrendous here on ship,” a passenger tweeted shortly after she fell overboard, along with a photo of an orange lifesaving ring in the ocean (the tweet has since been deleted). “Man overboard an hour ago. Ship going round and round searching.”

Pacific Dawn is due in Brisbane on Saturday. The incident has been referred to Queensland Police and to the Coroner for appropriate inquiries.

Correction: an earlier version of this article included the report that the woman had reportedly been swept overboard by a freak wave while on deck. Carnival Australia rejects this report and says there is nothing to suggest anything of this kind.