Yesterday police spokesman Trevor Pitt confirmed the death. He said the Cook Islands Coroner had not yet finalised a report on the incident and was obtaining information from a pathologist in New Zealand.
“The woman is a US citizen and the family has been advised,” Pitt said. “Police are not conducting any investigation into the death at this stage. I understand the Ministry of Transport has sought certain information about the fatality.”
A Ministry of Transport spokesman said the ministry was in fact working with the police on an investigation. He was unable to say when it was likely to be completed, but said the ministry had also appointed a New Zealand investigator to look into the death when the Maasdam, which is calling at Rarotonga again today, reached New Zealand.
News of the woman’s death appears to have been kept quiet apart from an unsubstantiated report on the Cruise Law News website, which turned up in an automated Google search yesterday. Several passengers aboard the Maasdam also posted comments on the “Cruise Critic” website.
The Cruise Law News (“Everything Cruise Lines Don’t Want You to Know)” website claimed the passenger had died while boarding the Maasdam from a tender.
A passenger told the website the deceased had been travelling by herself, and added that Maasdam crew members who had witnessed the incident had been offered counselling by phone.
A comment on the Cruise Critic website claiming to be from a passenger on the Maasdam, said the source of the Cruise Law News report had in fact been a witness to the accident.
The passenger said that at the time of the accident, the weather had been cool and windy with swells.
Another traveller aboard the Maasdam said the ship’s captain had later announced the death of the passenger.
“It was announced as there were witnesses to the incident and the captain wanted to quash rumours which were floating around the vessel.”
The Maasdam is sailing on a 28-night “Polynesian & South Seas Sampler” cruise and was scheduled to be back this morning on its final visit to Rarotonga for the year.
Ship’s agent and Cruise Cook Islands managing director Stuart Henry had a firm “no comment” on the death when CINews phoned him yesterday.
“There will be no comment until the Coroner’s report is completed,” he said.