Search Called Off for Woman Who Fell From P&O Cruise Ship “Pacific Dawn”

“Extremely difficult decision” –  Cruise ship captain announces search for passenger called off.

The captain of P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn has made the sad announcement that one of its passengers, a woman, hasn’t been found and the ship is heading back to Brisbane.

The woman, believed to have been on a seven-day holiday with her husband and children, reportedly went on to the deck on Thursday afternoon when passengers say her husband saw her fall.

“It is with a very heavy heart that I need to let you know that we have been unable to locate our guest,” the captain told passengers on Friday morning.

“We are still in the area of the incident, and the weather conditions with the swell three to four metres high, as you can see outside, the strong wind made our search extremely challenging.

“As a result, we have now made the extremely difficult decision to continue our journey towards Brisbane.

“I know I speak on behalf of all of you when I say our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”

Rough conditions hampered the search throughout the night after a Pacific Dawn crew member raised the alarm at 4pm on Thursday, about 150 nautical miles west of New Caledonia.

It was officially called off on Friday at 7.30am as hopes faded of finding the missing woman.

“In line with normal procedure the Pacific Dawn incident has been referred to Queensland Police and to the Coroner for appropriate inquiries. Out of respect for the family we will not add to P&O Cruises’ official statements.

“However, media speculation of a freak wave and sea sickness apparently based on social media reports is not supported by the facts. There is nothing to suggest anything of this kind,” he said.

The 245-metre ship with a carrying capacity of 2020 passengers was on a seven-night cruise from Brisbane to the South Pacific with scheduled calls to Noumea, Lifou and Port Vila.

“With the deepest sadness, P&O Cruises has confirmed the suspension of Pacific Dawn’s search,” Carnival Australia spokesman David Jones said on Friday morning.

“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,” Mr Jones said.

“A crew member notified the bridge straight away and the ‘man overboard’ incident response was activated immediately,” Mr Jones said in an earlier statement.

“In line with this response, Pacific Dawn turned around to follow the course it was on at the time of the incident.”

P&O released a statement saying a crew member saw the woman fall over the side of the ship about 4pm, 300 kilometres west of New Caledonia.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) and New Caledonian authorities issued a call for nearby vessels to assist in the search, as the incident happened in a shared search and rescue area between the two nations.

The ship had been on a week-long cruise of Pacific islands, and left Brisbane last Saturday.

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