The search has officially been called off for a female passenger who fell overboard on the P&O cruise ship Pacific Dawn.

The incident occurred late yesterday afternoon around 150 nautical miles from New Caledonia.

It is not clear how the woman fell from the boat, however, P&O Cruises does not support speculation of a freak wave washing the woman overboard while she was being sick on the deck.

The cruise line said this was not “supported by the facts” but out of respect for the family they would not add further details.

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Carnival Australia spokesman David Jones said the search began immediately after a crew member reported a guest had been seen to go over the side of the ship.

Pacific Dawn searched throughout the night and into the morning after first light without success.

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The Australian Maritime Safety Authority described the conditions as “rough” with a three to four-metre swell.

David Jones released a statement this morning explaining that it was “the deepest sadness, P&O Cruises hasd confirmed the suspension of Pacific Dawn’s search.”

“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.”

Carnival Australia spokesman David Jones.

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

Pacific Dawn Sails Under the West Gate Bridge _Photo James Morgan

Pacific Dawn has now resumed her course for Brisbane where preparations are being made for a late arrival at around 6am on Sunday, marking an end to the seven-night sailing in the South Pacific.

In line with normal procedure the Pacific Dawn incident has been referred to Queensland Police and to the Coroner for appropriate inquiries.

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