British holidaymaker rescued after trying to swim to cruise ship

Woman attempted to swim to cruise liner after it left port in Portugal

British holidaymaker rescued after trying to swim to cruise ship

A British pensioner had to be rescued after jumping into the sea in a bid to catch her cruise liner off the coast of the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Susan Brown, 65, from Dorset, swam about 1,600ft out to sea in an attempt to make it to the Marco Polo cruise ship after a row with her husband.

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The couple had cut short the 32-night Treasures of the West Indies cruise on day 28, and the cruise operator Cruise & Maritime Voyages had offered them flights out of Madeira on Saturday evening.

The couple are thought to have had a row at Madeira Airport and Mrs Brown reportedly believed her husband had gone and got back on the ship.

However, it is thought he had boarded the plane and flown back to Bristol.

In a bid to get back to the ship, Mrs Brown jumped into the water beside Madeira Airport and attempted to swim to it.

Three fishermen heard her cries for help, and told local media she was "very confused and pale".

According to the Daily Telegraph, one of the fisherman said: "She was barely conscious - she's lucky to be alive. I don't think she would have lasted another 30 minutes."

Funchal port captain Felix Marques said Mrs Brown had told medics that she had jumped in the sea after losing Mr Brown at the airport.

Speaking to the Metro, he added: "She says that when they were at the airport, her husband told her he was getting a taxi and returning to the cruise liner but that didn't happen and he boarded the plane.

"She was very lucky to survive. She was in the water for more than three hours and was suffering from the effects of hypothermia when she was rescued by fishermen who heard her cries for help around 12.20am on Sunday.

"All she had on her was the clothes she was wearing and a handbag which she was clinging to. "

He added: "It's only a hypothesis but we think one of the reasons she may have been able to stay above water for so long was that her handbag kept her afloat."

Mrs Brown is being treated at a local hospital.

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