Rhapsody of the Seas passenger dies after falling overboard

A man's body has been recovered from the ocean after a passenger fell overboard from the Rhapsody of the Seas cruise ship early this morning.

An Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokesman said the man had fallen overboard about 2am AEDT on Saturday.

"We organised a search and a short time ago, probably about 9.20 (AEDT), we were informed the cruise ship had recovered a body," he said.

The ship was about 300 nautical miles east of Brisbane when the man was seen falling from the ship, the spokesman said.

"Life rings and marker smoke were deployed by the vessel at the same time, the ship immediately turned around and launched rescue boats," he said.

"The Rescue Coordination Centre tasked one other merchant vessel, the Pacific Pearl, and the Queensland government's King Air to assist in the search."

The ship left Sydney bound for Noumea on Thursday night as part of a nine-night tour of the south Pacific.

A spokeswoman for Royal Caribbean International, the owners of the ship, said in a written statement another passenger had witnessed the man go overboard.

The incident was also captured on the ship's CCTV system, she said.


"The ship's captain immediately stopped the ship, turned around, and alerted the local authorities including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority," the spokeswoman said.  

"...With the assistance of the Search and Rescue aircraft, the Rhapsody of the Seas was able to locate the guest however regretfully the guest was found to be deceased at the time.

"The body of the deceased has been recovered on board the Rhapsody of the Seas.

"Royal Caribbean’s care team is providing support to the guest’s family and travelling companions and our thoughts and prayers are with them."

The spokeswoman said Australian and New Caledonian law enforcement services had been notified.