Search ended for 2 cruise passengers lost at sea

The cruise ship Carnival Spirit is seen docked at Sydney's Circular Quay, on May 9, 2013. A search failed to find an Australia couple who fell overboard into shark-infested waters.

SYDNEY Police late Friday ended the ocean search for two cruise ship passengers lost overboard two days earlier off eastern Australian.

Aircraft and ships that covered 1,360 square nautical miles of ocean during the search north of Sydney did not find any sign of the Australian couple, New South Wales state police said in a statement.

Paramedic Paul Rossington, 30, and his 26-year-old girlfriend Kristen Schroder were discovered missing Thursday morning after the Carnival Spirit docked at Sydney's Circular Quay at the end of a 10-day South Pacific cruise. The search began within hours.

Surveillance camera footage showed the couple was outside their cabin when they fell more than 65 feet from the ship's mid deck Wednesday night, Police Superintendent Mark Hutchings said. At the time, the ship was about 65 nautical miles off the coast of Forster, a city 185 miles north of Sydney.

Carnival Spirit is owned by Miami-based Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise operator. Carnival Corp.'s representative in the South Pacific region, Ann Sherry, chief executive of Carnival Australia, said safety was paramount for the company, noting that the railing over which the couple fell was 2 inches higher than industry safety regulations mandate.

The apparent tragedy is the latest high-profile problem for Carnival Corp.

Last year, the Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy, killing 32 people.

Also last year, the Costa Allegra caught fire and lost power in the Indian Ocean, leaving passengers without working toilets, running water or air conditioning for three days. Costa is a division of Carnival Corp.

In February, passengers aboard the Carnival Triumph spent five days without power in the Gulf of Mexico after an engine-room fire disabled the vessel.

Those on board complained of squalid conditions, including overflowing toilets and food shortages.