Queen Mary 2 British Woman Overboard

24 December 2016, 11:18 | Updated: 24 December 2016, 11:43

Cunard - Queen Mary 2

US coastguards have called off the search for a British woman thought to have fallen overboard during a cruise on the Southampton based Queen Mary 2

The 74-year-old was on a tour of the Caribbean which left New York on Thursday. Cunard's care team are offering support to the woman's family

The alarm was raised when the ship was around 100 nautical miles south east of Atlantic City in New Jersey, and the US Coast Guard scrambled a plane and helicopter to help search for her.

The Cunard-run liner also turned back to assist in the hunt, but it was called off as darkness fell on Friday evening.

A company spokesman said: ``It is with sadness we can confirm that after a comprehensive search, working with all relevant authorities, Queen Mary 2 has halted the search for a missing guest, presumed overboard.

``The ship left New York on December 22, on a 12-night Caribbean itinerary. Cunard's care team is offering every support to the family.

``The ship is now back on course to reach St Maarten on December 26 as scheduled.''

The Coast Guard had launched a C-130 fixed wing plane and an HH-60 Jayhawk helicopter to scour the sea, searching an area of almost 400sq nautical miles, but they have now returned to land.

Petty Officer David Micallef told the Press Association the woman was reported missing between 1am and 3am US time on Friday, (8pm to 10pm on Thursday, British time).

He said: ``The search has been suspended pending any new information.''

The Queen Mary 2, based in the port of Southampton, was built in 2003 at a cost of #700 million and launched the following year.

The luxury ship was renovated earlier this year and boasts suites, state rooms and the ``largest library at sea'', with 8,000 books, according to the Cunard website.