Search for Missing Cruise Ship Passenger Wearing Pink Pyjamas Who Couldn't Swim Abandoned in Rough Seas

A cruise ship firm has offered its thoughts and prayers to the family of a passenger who went overboard, after the search for the missing woman was called off.

In the early hours of Saturday, a 63-year-old Korean woman went over the side of a Cruise Norwegian vessel, the company said in a tweet. At the time, the ship was sailing from Cannes in the south of France to Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

When staff learned the woman had fallen into the water, the authorities were alerted, prompting the start of a search and rescue operation.

"The search has now ceased, and sadly, the guest has not been found," Cruise Norwegian tweeted. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the individual's family during this difficult time."

Miguel Chicon, head of maritime search and rescue in Palma de Mallorca, told ABC News that Norwegian Epic staff alerted his agency at 8:30 a.m. local time of a woman going overboard, after checking security cameras. Other vessels in the area were told to watch out for the missing person. The water was around 20 degrees Centigrade (68 degrees Fahrenheit) at the time, according to Chicon.

Claire Murphy, from the town of Tonbridge in the U.K. was sailing on the ship as part of a week-long cruise. She told the Sun Online: "We were told someone in pink pyjamas had been seen going overboard, so we had to go back and look for that person."

She said passengers were "bewildered" as they were asked to help look for the missing person.

Murphy said it took two hours for the ship to return to the location where the woman was last seen. The vessel stopped to search there for four hours, and was joined by a helicopter.

"We were literally in the middle of the Med, it was really windy and it was very rocky," said Murphy, referring to the Mediterranean sea.

Norwegian Epic cruise ship
The Norwegian Epic cruise ship at Pier 88 on July 2, 2010 in New York City. Getty/Randy Brooke/WireImage

Another passenger Kyjuan Brown, from the island of Bermuda, told the Sun Online the woman was last seen at around 1 a.m., on her balcony wearing pink pyjamas.

Brown said the search was abandoned at around 8 p.m. The captain told passengers the family said the woman was unable to swim.

"Given the conditions it's unlikely she would have survived," said Brown.

A woman named Rebekah Sanderlin, who claimed she was on board the ship, tweeted: "For hours 1000s of passengers stared at the water looking for her, some with binoculars."

"All over the ship, passengers were looking. Every passenger I talked to was very worried and very compassionate. Finally, last night the captain announced that incoming bad weather meant local authorities were calling off the search.

"We were at dinner then and a hush fell over the dining room," wrote Sanderlin.

"The ship's crew have been wonderful and handled everything calmly and professionally. I've been very touched to see how much care everyone on board has expressed. I hope her family can draw some comfort from that," she said.

Built in 2010 and refurbished in 2015, the 1,081-foot long Norwegian Epic can hold up to 4,100 guests and 1,724 crew, and is fitted with a live entertainment area and a water park.