A British man is believed to have thrown himself overboard on a cruise ship in an apparent bid to take his own life.
The Virgin Voyages cruise ship Valiant Lady had was on course to return to the boarding point Portsmouth from its tour of Spanish and Portuguese ports when a passenger went into the water on March 30.
When it was discovered that the man had gone into the sea, the ship turned round to search for him. Coastguards in France and Spain were also alerted.
A spotter plane, helicopter and two merchant vessels were dispatched to search the vicinity to no avail.
The search was finally suspended yesterday evening (Thursday, March 31) as it is now feared the passenger has drowned.
The Valiant Lady resumed her original course and is expected to dock in Portsmouth this evening.
Further inquiries onboard indicated the man had "deliberately" jumped overboard but it is not clear whether he was only witnessed by passengers or whether the incident was caught on CCTV.
The tragedy has rocked passengers on the brand new Virgin Voyages ship, who complained the holiday had been plagued with problems.
Several passengers complained, with one saying it felt like the Valiant Lady was "cursed".
Passengers had forked out up to £5,000 to cruise around La Coruna in Spain, Madeira, Tenerife, Gran Canaria and spend two full days and an evening in Lisbon.
But the original itinerary was scrapped, seeing the voyage to Portugal's capital slashed to one day and Madeira being missed out entirely.
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A passenger then became gravely ill and had to be airlifted off the ship by helicopter.
One passenger told the MailOnline: "The cruise has felt cursed from the outset – it’s been beset by one problem after another."
Another said: "Everyone among the passengers is devastated by what’s happened – it’s just horrible to think that a fellow passenger has probably died."
A Virgin Voyages spokesman told the Daily Star: "In the early hours of the morning on March 31, we were informed of a man overboard incident involving one of our guests.
"This resulted in an extensive search and rescue mission. We are deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts are with this passenger's family and loved ones.
"Our investigation has indicated that this was an intentional act and that no foul play is suspected.
"We set ourselves to a very high standard and in this case we have fallen short on some things and we are very sorry the experience for some has not been ideal.
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"While not everything is in our control, including global supply chain challenges, the weather, or medical emergencies, we remain focused on the Sailor experience and know we need to keep improving.
"As a gesture of awareness that some were disappointed, we are offering all Sailors a free voyage this Summer in Europe onboard either of our ships, Valiant Lady or Resilient Lady."
A Maritime and Coastguard spokesperson said: "Since 7.30am yesterday HM Coastguard was coordinating a search for a man overboard from the Valiant Lady cruise ship in the Bay of Biscay, with the assistance of our counterparts in Spain and France.
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"The French sent a fixed-wing aircraft to provide air support to a helicopter sent by Spain to conduct a search.
"Two merchant vessels and the cruise ship were also assisting. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office has been informed."
For emotional support, you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email [email protected], visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.
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