Storm death ship Marco Polo cleared to cruise on

Despite widow's complaints, vessel sails from Tilbury for Northern Lights trip with 790 passengers on board

The cruise ship on which an elderly passenger died when it was hit by a freak wave has been passed fit to sail after police and port authority inspections.

James Swinstead, 85, was killed and several other people were injured when water crashed through restaurant windows on the British ship Marco Polo in the ultra-stormy English Channel on Friday night.

Disembarking from the 22,000-tonne, Panama-flagged vessel at Tilbury in Essex on Sunday morning, Mr Swinstead's widow, Helen, from Colchester in Essex, said the ship was "badly maintained".

But a spokesman for the ship's British operator, Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV), said on Monday that the 49-year-old vessel, originally built for the Russian cruise market, had been given the go-ahead to continue.

It left Tilbury on Sunday for a 14-night Norway and Northern Lights cruise with a full complement of around 790 passengers on board.

CMV spokesman Paul Foster said: "Police and Port Health Authority people came on board yesterday and conducted their own investigations.

"They had the power to detain the vessel if they considered it was unseaworthy or if regulations were not being followed. "

He went on: "The next cruise is under way. We had two senior CMV directors as well as representatives from the owners (the Global Maritime company of Greece) greeting passengers.

"Some passengers needed reassurance but no-one has cancelled and there have been no cancellations for the next two cruises which are also 14-night Northern Lights voyages."

Mr Foster said the damage to the vessel had been limited to four smashed windows and carpet damage. The one seriously injured passenger, a woman in her 70s, was recovering after being airlifted to hospital.

The ship, originally named the Alexander Potemkin and operated at one time by Norwegian Cruise Line, was in the south west approaches to the Channel when the wave hit. The vessel had been returning to Tilbury after a 42-night voyage which included Caribbean ports.

PA

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