Authorities have reported that a young woman missing overboard from a P&O Cruises ship sailing near Australia has been found deceased after a dedicated search and rescue effort. The incident happened overnight on Wednesday, December 14, 2022, and the cruise line is providing support to the woman’s family.
Tragic End to Overboard Situation on Pacific Explorer
The 23-year-old woman reportedly fell overboard from the P&O Cruises Australia ship Pacific Explorer, though the circumstances of how she went overboard have not been released. She was reported missing at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, December 13.
At the time, the ship was roughly 25 miles (40 kilometers) west coast of Cape Jaffa, along the southeastern coast of the state of South Australia. The cruise ship immediately commenced search operations, and informed maritime authorities of the emergency.
Various assets were involved in the search, including helicopters and search and rescue aircraft. The cruise ship also participated in the search, zig-zagging through the search area. Waters were reported to be rough at the time, and strong winds also limited search efforts and impacted visibility.
In total, the search area covered more than 55 nautical miles of ocean before the woman’s body was found in the water just before 7 a.m. on Wednesday, December 14, by one of the rescue helicopters.
“This tragic discovery comes after an overnight search and rescue operation,” said a spokesperson for Carnival Australia, parent company for P&O Cruises Australia, in a statement. To protect the family’s privacy during this tragic time, the woman’s name has not been released.
The Sun-class Pacific Explorer was sailing a 4-night roundtrip cruise from Melbourne, Australia, with a port of call scheduled for Kangaroo Island on Wednesday, before returning to Melbourne on Friday, December 16.
Due to this incident, the ship’s call at Kangaroo Island has been canceled, and the ship is instead returning directly to Melbourne.
“We continue to provide care and assistance to the family member this guest was travelling with and extend our deepest condolences to their loved ones,” the spokesperson said. Support is also being offered to other impacted guests onboard as well as the ship’s crew members.
While the ship is scheduled to arrive back in Melbourne earlier than originally scheduled, there has been no announcement made as to whether or not guests will disembark early, or if any compensation is being offered for the canceled port of call and shortened cruise.
Local police will conduct an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the woman’s death, likely reviewing onboard security camera footage and conducting interviews with family members, other cruise guests, crew members, and search team members as necessary to determine if any legal action is necessary.
Pacific Explorer is scheduled to depart on its next sailing on Friday, December 16. that “cruise to nowhere” is a 3-night comedy sailing without any ports of call, and there has been no announcement yet as to whether the cruise will be impacted.
The 77,400-gross-ton ship can accommodate 1,998 guests at double occupancy, with 924 international crew members onboard as well. Pacific Explorer first entered service in 1997.
Cruise Hive’s thoughts are with the woman’s family members and the cruise ship crew at this troubled time.