CROATIA – A British woman was saved by the Croatian Coast Guard after spending what she said was close to 10 hours treading water overnight in the Adriatic Sea after falling off a cruise ship.
Kay Longstaff spoke to Croatian news outlet HRT shortly after arriving back on land.
“I fell off the back of the Norwegian Star,” said the woman, who lives in Spain, according to her Twitter account. “I was in the water for 10 hours, so these wonderful guys rescued me. I’m very lucky to be alive.”
Longstaff, 46, was then led by medical personnel to an ambulance.
Lovro Orešković, the captain of the ship that rescued her, told local media that it was a “miracle” that she survived.
“On the cruise liner they thought she didn’t survive,” Orešković said. “She is clearly fit. She told us she does yoga, and that as she floated in the sea she sang the whole time so that her body temperature wouldn’t fall, and to stay awake.”
“We have saved a human life and nothing else compares to it,” he said in a later statement.
According to a statement from the Croatian Coast Guard, the search for Longstaff began at 2:17 a.m. local time Sunday after they were alerted by the ship’s captain that there was a person overboard.
Other ships in the area were notified about the emergency, and passenger ships Zadar and Celebrity Constellation took part in the search. The Norwegian Star ship also took part in the search, the statement said.
A patrol boat and an airplane also were part of the rescue effort, according to the Croatian Ministry of Defense.
The Coast Guard later learned that Longstaff fell from the ship at 11:45 p.m. local time Saturday, according to CCTV footage reviewed by the crew of the Norwegian Star, the statement said.
Longstaff was spotted in the sea — around 0.8 miles from the site of the incident — at about 9:40 a.m. Sunday by the crew of a Coast Guard patrol boat and brought on board, according to the Coast Guard.
A Norwegian Cruise Lines spokesperson confirmed that a guest went overboard “as Norwegian Star made her way to Venice.”
“The Coast Guard was notified and a search-and-rescue operation ensued. We are pleased to advise that the guest was found alive, is currently in stable condition, and has been taken ashore in Croatia for further treatment. We are very happy that the individual is now safe and will soon be reunited with friends and family.”
It was unclear how Longstaff fell overboard.
Renee Friedman of New York, traveling on the cruise ship with her husband, told CNN that she first heard of the incident at 6 a.m. on Sunday when the captain announced that there was a person overboard.
The passengers were told that a search was underway for the missing woman and that their arrival in Venice would be delayed.
“The main thing is that tragedy was averted and that she was found alive,” Friedman said.