A BRIT passenger on a £5,000 Virgin Voyages cruise has allegedly thrown himself overboard from the “cursed” ship.
The Valiant Lady had been heading back to Portsmouth after its maiden voyage sailing around Spanish and Portuguese ports when the man went into the water on Wednesday night.
A huge search and rescue operation was launched for the missing passenger, seeing the ship turn around in the hopes of finding him.
French and Spanish coastguards were alerted to the frantic hunt, while a spotter plane and helicopter were deployed to try to locate him.
The captain of the luxury cruise liner even desperately asked other guests to scan the sea for any sign of the missing man in the water.
In addition, two merchant vessels that were in the area were diverted to assist in the search of the sea, the Daily Mail reported.
But it was called off yesterday evening with the passenger, believed to be British, presumed drowned.
As crew probed the incident on board, it emerged that the traveller had “deliberately” dived off the vessel into the Atlantic.
It is not clear whether the incident was seen by other passengers or captured on CCTV.
The Valiant Lady resumed her original course after the search was halted and is due to dock in Portsmouth this evening – around 12 hours behind schedule.
The tragedy has rocked passengers on the brand new Virgin Voyages ship, who complained the holiday had been plagued with problems.
They said it felt like the Valiant Lady – hosting performances by eighties pop acts including Tony Hadley, Toyah and T’Pau – 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.
A passenger then became gravely ill and had to be airlifted off the ship by helicopter.
The series of unfortunate events then culminated on Wednesday night when the Brit fell overboard.
One passenger told the outlet: “The cruise has felt cursed from the outset – it’s been beset by one problem after another.
“First it was small things like them running out of food and drinks and the wifi not working, then the performances were being rejigged and the itinerary changed.
“There were covid infections – they had to create an area of the ship for those who tested positive to isolate in.
“And then someone got so ill they had to be airlifted to hospital. And now this terrible incident. It’s been awful.”
Another guest added: “Everyone among the passengers is devastated by what’s happened – it’s just horrible to think that a fellow passenger has probably died.”
Travellers were set to enjoy a star-studded lineup of eighties icons as they sailed the seas on the adults-only cruise.
Performers included Spandau Ballet frontman Tony Hadley, Toyah, T’Pau, Altered Images, ABC singer Martin Fry and former Radio 1 DJs Bruno Brookes and Gary Davies.
The cruise has felt cursed from the outset – it’s been beset by one problem after another.Passenger
Passengers were informed last night that due to the extensive issues on their trip, they would be offered a free European cruise with Virgin Voyages this summer.
The Valiant Lady – aimed firmly at the “young at heart” and adults – features a range of glitzy restaurants, intimate bars and a nightclub.
The swanky ship earlier announced a partnership with Jennifer Lopez, which will see the singer and actress invest in the cruise line and develop entertainment and health and fitness collaborations.
A Virgin Voyages spokesman said: “In the early hours of the morning, we were informed of a man overboard incident involving a Sailor [passenger], which resulted in a search and rescue mission.
“We’re deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts are with this Sailor’s family and loved ones.
“Our investigation indicates that this was an intentional act and that no foul play is suspected.
“We did have an earlier incident where one of our Sailors on board experienced a medical emergency and required shoreside medical care.
“Our team acted quickly and with the help of the local authorities, we were able to have them airlifted to the hospital. We’re very happy to report that this person is doing well and receiving medical care.
“In terms of the other areas of focus, we set ourselves a high standard and in this case we have fallen short on some things and we are very sorry this has not been ideal.
“While not everything is in our control like supply chain challenges to fulfill all the offerings on board, or the weather, we remain focused on the Sailor experience and know we need to keep improving.”
A Maritime and Coastguard spokesperson said the HM Coastguard had been coordinating a search in the Bay of Biscay since 7.30am yesterday.
They continued: “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.”
They confirmed yesterday evening that the search had been called off.