A British pensioner heading home on a Fred Olsen luxury cruise of the Adriatic Sea with his wife fell overboard prompting a frantic search of the English Channel.
After a desperate search of the liner, emergency services from France and the UK were called in to begin looking for the pensioner in the freezing waters.
The ‘man overboard’ alert was declared after the 80-year-old’s wife reported him missing to staff on the Fred Olsen liner Balmoral in the early hours of yesterday.
It is thought that his wife woke in their cabin on the 43,000 ton ship to find her husband missing.
A huge sweep was carried out of the surrounding waters involving help from a helicopter as well as a navy warship and a plane.
Because it is unknown what time the pensioner went overboard, it is possible that the ship could’ve travelled up to 100 miles before being asked by coastguards to retrace its path in a bid to finding the man.
The Fred Olsen ship was around 45 miles south of the Cornish coast, in French waters, when the passenger was reported missing early on Monday.
But as light faded the man was still missing and the search was called off.
A spokesman for Fred Olsen said: ‘A thorough search was conducted to try to locate the guest, but without success.’
A spokesman for Brixham Coastguard in Devon added: ‘We scrambled a rescue helicopter and it was searching for four hours – possibly its longest mission.’
The luxury cruise liner arrived in Dover at 7am yesterday where it was boarded by Kent Police officers.
A police spokesman said investigations were ongoing.