woman fell off cruise ship

A woman who fell overboard during a cruise spent almost an hour in the Pacific Ocean before being rescued.

New Zealand singer Will Martin, who is currently working as a headline entertainer aboard the Sun Princess, said the passenger fell off the cruise ship between Brisbane and New Caledonia on Friday.

Shortly after 4pm on Friday (4pm NZT) the "man overboard" announcement came over the bridge.

The ship was immediately turned around in the hopes of locating the woman.

Two life rings were deployed to mark the approximate location of where the passenger went into the water, Martin said.

It took about 15 minutes for the ship to completely turn around and make it back to the same area.

"By the time the ship made it back to the vicinity, all onlookers could see that both life rings were in fact empty -  she hadn't made it to either one -  no one could see her," Martin said.

A zodiac-type life boat was then deployed from the ship to conduct a search.

"Passengers and crew alike were dotted around the ship at all vantage points, in the hopes of assisting to locate the lost woman.

"It felt like a long time scanning the ocean, trying to differentiate between the thousands of random white caps, and perhaps an actual person."

Shortly after 4.30pm (7.30pm NZT) the woman was located by the zodiac vessel, hauled aboard and returned to Sun Princess.

Martin captured the moment the woman was brought aboard the lifeboat, which he shared on Facebook.

In total, the woman was in the water for about 45 minutes.

Martin said he didn't know who the woman was or how her recovery was going, "other than to say that she's alive, and was extremely lucky to have been found".

"The Sun Princess crew all did a phenomenal job," he said.

It was not clear how the woman came to be in the water.

The ship was expected to arrive in Noumea, New Caledonia on Sunday.

In 2014, an 85-year-old man's 25-metre plunge from the Sun Princess was caught on CCTV. 

Sun Princess first set sail in 1995 and can accommodate 2000 guests, with almost 1000 crew.

Princess Cruises has not responded to requests for comment.

Written by Laura Walters. First published on Stuff.co.nz. Image credit: Fairfax NZ.