British air stewardess who fell off cruise ship says yoga and singing helped her survive 10 hours in sea

Hayley Dixon

A British air stewardess who fell from the back of a cruise ship has said her yoga fitness and singing helped her to survive 10 hours in the sea.

Kay Longstaff, 46, was pulled from the Adriatic Sea on Sunday morning, having plunged from the Norwegian Star as it sailed 60 miles off the Croatian coast on Saturday.

The tourist said she is "lucky to be alive" and thanked her "wonderful" rescuers as she was taken to a hospital in the Croatian town of Pula.

Rescuers said Ms Longstaff, believed to be a former Virgin Atlantic cabin crew member who now works on private planes, was exhausted but she had recovered by the time they took her ashore.

"She said the fact that she practices yoga helped her as she was fit. And she said she was singing to not feel cold in the sea overnight," an unnamed rescuer told The Sun.

Kay Longstaff is escorted by rescuers from a Croatian Coast Guard vessel Credit: AP

Ms Longstaff was found swimming less than a mile from the point where she disappeared from the Norwegian Star as it made its way to Venice. 

She looked relaxed and happy, wearing a T-shirt tied in a knot and blue denim shorts as she reached the Croatian city of Pula on Sunday morning.

Kay Longstaff appeared relaxed and happy as she reached the Croatian city of Pula Credit: STR/AFP 

It is not clear how Ms Longstaff came to be in the water, but said she "fell off the back" of the ship. 

She told waiting reporters: "I fell off the back of the Norwegian Star and I was in the water for about 10 hours. These wonderful guys rescued me."

Ms Longstaff said she was sitting at the back of the deck before the incident happened, adding: "I am very lucky to be alive". 

Kay Longstaff climbs a ladder unaided after spending ten hours in the sea
She is helped aboard the Croatian Coast Guard ship Cavtat 
The moment Kay Longstaff is taken to safety by members of the Croatian Coast Guard 

She is believed to have fallen into the Adriatic from the seventh deck of the 965ft cruise liner just before midnight on Saturday around 60 miles south of Pula. 

The ship alerted the authorities who dispatched the Croatian Coast Guard patrol ship Cavtat and a PC-9 search plane to search for her throughout the night. Three other ships were also involved. 

She was eventually found at around 9.30am on Sunday swimming less than a mile from where she disappeared.

The rescue ship's captain Lovro Oreskovic said: "The British woman was exhausted when we pulled her out of the water.

"We were extremely happy for saving a human life."

Kay Longstaff, a British air hostess, was on holiday on a Greek island tour Credit: Twitter

Mr Oreskovic said he was proud of his crew, particularly rescue swimmer Lieutenant Colonel Marina Delić who had pulled her from the water. 

It is understood that Ms Longstaff has now been released from hospital and is due to be reunited with her family. 

Ms Longstaff is believed to now live on the Costa del Sol, in southern Spain.

Kay Longstaff is an air hostess believed to now work on private planes Credit: Facebook

David Radas, a spokesman from Croatian Ministry of Maritime Affairs, told The Telegraph: "After they found her the rescued woman was not injured, just exhausted, hypothermical and in shock. 

"When they reached the coast she felt pretty much recovered. That was also confirmed the hospital staff after they conducted preliminary health check."

He said that by checking CCTV rescuers knew the exact moment Ms Longstaff fell in the water.

Mr Radas said: "Because they knew the time, they were able to know the exact position of the ship."

Kay Longstaff is pictured with her rescuers from the Croatian Coast Guard

A Norwegian Star spokeswoman said: "We are pleased to advise that the guest was found alive, is currently in stable condition, and has been taken ashore in Croatia for further treatment. 

"We are very happy that the individual, who is a UK resident, is now safe and will soon be reunited with friends and family."

An official at the hospital where she was taken confirmed: "The British woman was brought to the hospital and her life is not endangered."

Staff at the cruise liner are said to be examining the CCTV cameras to try an establish exactly what happened to the woman. 

British woman rescued from Adriatic Sea

The Norwegian Star was sailing from Vargarola to Venice when the incident happened.

The ship had been on a seven-night Greek Island tour which began in Venice and stopped in Kotor in Montenegro and several ports in Greece. 

It returned to Venice around five hours late, with passengers waiting to board complaining of the delay. 

The ship has recently been refurbished and boasts on board 15 restaurants, 10 bars, a spa and a casino. 

It is understood that the Foreign Office has been informed of the incident. 

The Norwegian Star cruise ship had recently been refurbished Credit: Danita Delimont/Alamy

Experts say that more than 300 people have fallen overboard on cruises since 2000.