A PASSENGER has been killed during stormy conditions aboard cruise ship Marco Polo on the English Channel.

He has been named locally as James Swinstead, 85, of Eight Ash Green, Colchester. 

The father of two and former marketing man died almost instantly when the wave crashed through four of the ship's windows.

He was on the cruise with his wife Helen, 82, when water crashed through one of the vessel's Waldorf Room windows on Friday. 

Speaking at Tilbury docks this morning, Mrs Swinstead said: “It was dreadful.

“I was sitting next to him and this window just came in and the sea with it.

“We were all very wet.

“My husband was going to go in the helicopter but he died before they could get him on it.

“He has never made the headlines, and now he is sitting on his cloud chortling.

“He was a lovely husband."

The cruise ship, operated by Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) - which operates out of the Port of Tilbury - was bound for the Thurrock terminal when it was hit by a large wave off the coast of Cornwall.

As a result of the incident, an unrelated woman, aged 70, was airlifted to hospital but her condition is not said to be life threatening.

Fourteen other passengers aboard the ship, which was due to complete a 42-night cruise to the South American Amazon and the Caribbean yesterday, were left with minor injuries.

A spokesman for CMV said: "Our thoughts are very much with these passengers and their families during this difficult time."

The vessel sailed from Tilbury on January 5, carrying 735 mainly British passengers and 349 crew.

Friends have described Mr Swinstead as "a real gentleman and a character who will be sorely missed around the village".