Cruise couple held over suitcase cocaine

The Marco Polo cruise ship

A British couple in their 70s have been arrested after cocaine was found in their cruise ship cabin.

Officers found 20-22lb (9-10kg) of the drug “ingeniously concealed” in false compartments in four suitcases, Portuguese police said.

The man and woman, aged 72 and 70, were held on suspicion of drug trafficking when the ship docked at Lisbon.

Operator Cruise and Maritime Voyages said it was “co-operating fully with officials”.

The Marco Polo ship had left Tilbury in Essex on 5 November and travelled to the West Indies and the Azores with 610 passengers and 294 crew on board.

The couple were arrested on 4 December following a tip-off from the UK National Crime Agency.

They appeared before a judge and will be held separately while a joint Portuguese and British investigation continues.

A spokesman for the operator said the firm “does not tolerate any criminal activity or anti-social behaviour onboard its ships”.

Pensioner rescued after trying to swim to cruise ship

A British pensioner was rescued from the Atlantic after trying to swim to a cruise ship after the vessel left port without her.

Susan Brown, 65, jumped into the water off Madeira after she changed her mind about leaving the Cruise and Maritime Voyages’ ship Marco Polo with her husband.

She was rescued about 500 metres from the shore by fishermen who heard her cries for help.

She had been in the icy water for four hours and was reported to be recovering from hypothermia in hospital in Funchal.

The pensioner and her husband Michael Brown reportedly had a row on Saturday and asked to leave the cruise early and fly back from Madeira to Bristol.

She appears to have changed her mind at the airport and tried to swim out to the ship which had already left the port.

The ship docked in Madeira on Saturday at 8am and was due to depart later the same evening. The couple asked to leave the ship before the end of the 32-night voyage from the West Indies.

Felix Marques, the Funchal port captain, told Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manha: “She was 500 metres from the coast when fishermen heard her shouting. When they reached her she was clinging to her handbag.”

Mr Brown is thought to have returned to Madeira to be with his wife.

A local newspaper, the Jornal da Madeira, reported: “It appears a woman failed to return to the ship at 8pm and instead decided to go to the airport to catch a flight.

“When she reached the airport, she saw the ship passing and threw herself into the sea with the aim of getting back on the vessel.”

Cruise & Maritime Voyages expands fleet

Cruise & Maritime Voyages will add the Grand Holiday cruise ship to its fleet next spring and will change the vessel’s name to Magellan.

The 29-year-old ship currently sails for Ibero Cruises, a line owned by Carnival Corp. It entered service in 1985 as the Carnival Holiday.

At 1,250 passengers, Magellan will become Cruise & Maritime Voyages’ largest ship. It will operate adults-only cruises (age 16 and over), its first being a 12-night sailing to Iceland and the Faroes from the Port of Tilbury near London on March 15.

U.K.-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages currently has two ships, the 800-passenger Marco Polo and the 600-pasenger Astor. The 550-passenger Azores also will join the fleet in 2015.

John Dennis, the cruise line’s vice president of sales and marketing, said the Magellan “will be very well suited to our U.S. and Canadian guests sailing from the U.K. throughout Northern Europe.”

“Having already sold 65% of capacity for next year, we remain confident that Magellan will help satisfy the growing demand for our product,” he said.