A DISABLED woman was airlifted to Dorset County Hospital after falling critically ill aboard a cruise liner.

Portland coastguards were called to assist the 57-year-old woman who fell ill while on the Royal Caribbean Independent of the Seas cruise liner on Saturday evening.

A spokesman for Portland Coastguard said the passenger was wheelchair bound with little mobility.

He said the ship’s captain reported that the woman required urgent evacuation because she was in a critical condition at around 8.20pm.

She was later airlifted to the Dorchester hospital with her husband and met by Wyke Regis coastguard rescue officers.

Rosie Slade, clinical site manager at Dorset County Hospital, confirmed that the woman was in a stable condition yesterday morning. The coastguard rescue helicopter left Portland and flew out to meet the cruise ship, which was approximately 23 miles south of Portland Bill.

It is believed the cruise liner had left Southampton and was travelling to Gibraltar. There were complications surrounding the airlift because the casualty and wheelchair were too heavy and the ship’s helicopter landing pad was too light for the helicopter.

The rescue helicopter flew back to base to take on more fuel and the passenger was finally airlifted at 10.16pm.

A Portland Coastguard spokesman said: “In a supreme example of skill, the coastguard helicopter pilot touched the wheels of the aircraft onto the moving deck of the Independence of the Seas, keeping the rotors powered-up so that no weight was taken by the relatively fragile landing pad.

“The passenger, in her wheelchair, was lifted into the hovering helicopter, along with her husband, and airlifted to Dorset County Hospital, Dorchester, where they were met by coastguard rescue officers at 11.35pm."