AN ILL passenger had to be winched off a cruise ship by a coastguard helicopter.

The HM coastguard helicopter was required to winch the passenger off the Columbus ship on Sunday, off the Canvey shore.

Nigel Dilley, 57, who saw the air ambulance circling the ship, said: “I saw the search and rescue icon by the ship on the vessel finder app.

“I walked out onto the seafront and saw it doing circuits round the ship.

“A lot of people were watching.”

A spokesperson from the maritime and coastguard agency, confirmed that a helicopter was sent and the passenger was airlifted to Southwark park hospital in London.

A Gravesend RNLI lifeboat was also sent but was stood down.