The heartbroken girlfriend of the Australian man who went overboard a cruise ship has shared a devastating confession.
Thirty-five-year-old Warwick Tollemache was on board the Quantum of the Seas on route to Honolulu when he fell and went missing near Hawaiian waters on Tuesday evening (local time).
A search was immediately conducted, involving the United States Coast Guards and Navy, but was called off on Thursday when they failed to locate him.
He is presumed dead by his family, but his girlfriend still holds out slight hope.
Brisbane woman Celina La Roche told the Courier Mail she has been dating Mr Tollemache “on and off” for six years and was crushed that the search for him was suspended.
“They should have kept looking – I don’t understand why they stopped the search,” she said on Friday.
“I’m just devastated.”
The US Coast Guard in a statement confirmed they made the “difficult decision” to end the search after discussions with the next of kin.
In a heart-breaking admission, Ms La Roche revealed she was meant to go on the cruise with him, but work got in the way.
He went with his mother, Mandy, instead.
“We were talking in the morning (before the tragedy), we were making plans for another trip,” Ms La Roche said.
“I was still hoping until I heard they’d stopped the search and now… he could still be alive in the middle of nowhere.
“I won’t have closure personally until they find him. He knows how to float in water, we did it together when we were snorkelling.
“But his mum told me straight away, ‘He’s gone,’ so I just thought, ‘That’s it, he’s dead’.”
In a statement to social media, Mr Tollemache’s mother Mandy remembered him as a “gentle soul”.
“Our family is heartbroken at the loss of our beloved Warwick,” she wrote.
“He was a kind, beautiful, and gentle soul who was adored by everyone who knew him. He will be deeply missed.
“We kindly ask for privacy during this difficult time. Thank you for your understanding.”
Royal Caribbean Cruises, who operate the cruise ship, said their “thoughts and deepest sympathies” were with his loved ones.
“While on its trans-pacific sailing, a guest onboard Quantum of the Seas went overboard,” it said in an earlier statement.
“The ship’s crew immediately launched a search and rescue operation and worked closely with local authorities.
“Out of respect for the family, we will not share further details about this unfortunate event. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with his loved ones at this time.”
While it is still unknown how Mr Tollemache fell, passenger Ken Carcas told Sky News Australia that, according to multiple passengers, “two crew saw him go overboard”.
“A lady heard a scream, went out onto the balcony and saw him drop past, hit the tender below and fall into the water,” he said on Thursday.
He added the captain immediately alerted crews of the incident and begun the search.
The cruise ship Quantum of the Seas will arrive at the final stop of Honolulu on Friday, after departing from Brisbane more than two weeks ago on April 12.
The tragedy came just hours after the death of a woman on board the same cruise, who suffered a medical emergency, in an unrelated incident.