Cruise couple chose window seat 'for lovely view of sea' before wave killed husband

James Swinstead, 85, died after huge wave hit Marco Polo cruise ship

Updated: 
Cruise couple chose window seat 'for lovely view of sea' before wave killed husband

An inquest into the death of a man killed when a huge wave hit a cruise ship has heard how he chose to sit next to a window - for 'the lovely view of the rough sea'.

James Swinstead, 85, died on board the Marco Polo cruise ship after being hit by a window frame as the vessel was hit by a massive wave on Valentine's Day 2014.

Essex Coroner's Court heard how Mr Swinstead and his wife Helen were sitting at a restaurant table next to a window when the wave hit.

The 22,000-tonne vessel, operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV), was heading for its home port of Tilbury in Essex at the end of a 42-night voyage when the incident happened.

Two windows were smashed and two others were dislodged but didn't smash. Mrs Swinstead has spoken out about how she believed the ship was badly maintained and that the window frames were rusty.

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Forensic pathologist Dr David Rouse told the inquest that Mr Swinstead suffered a fractured skull and extensive brain damage.

Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded a verdict of accidental death.

According to the BBC, Ms Beasley-Murray said: "In light of all the evidence that has been heard before this court I shall record a conclusion on the record of inquest - that is answering how he died - that James Malcolm Swinstead died as a result of an accident, a tragic accident.

"He clearly was a much-loved gentleman."

The Bahamas Maritime Authority carried out an investigation into the incident and, while it reported that passengers noted "a number of windows" had "leaks or rust stains" it concluded: "There was a great deal of violence and force involved in what happened as the windows were smashed and dislodged.

"We could not say with any confidence that there was anything to be alarmed with about the condition of those windows."

The Daily Telegraph reports that when asked if the inquest had given her the answers she was looking for, Mrs Swinstead replied: "No, not really, because why were we shown to the table by the window? There were rusty puddles on the windowsill.

"That's with hindsight. We sat there because it was a lovely view of a rough sea."

And her solicitor, Martyn Carr, added: "Perhaps the strength of the waves was extremely unusual, but you don't expect to be sitting in a restaurant and have the window come in on you.

"There are questions still to be answered about the strength of the windows."

Mr Swinstead was a father-of-two and had three grandchildren.

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