The 40-year-old crewmember was airlifted with head injuries, but he died en route to a hospital in the Netherlands. The 49-year-old assailant has been quarantined and will face charges upon return to Britain.
Anders Johannessen, a Norway-based contributor to industry trade Cruise Business Review, is onboard the ship and provided Cruise Critic with this update:
Friday at 1 p.m., while crossing the North Sea from Southampton to Bergen, a crewmember had to be airlifted off the ship for medical reasons. Throughout the one-hour helicopter operation, passengers were asked to stay off the open decks and balconies for safety reasons, and Captain Bernard Warner frequently kept passengers informed about what was going on over the loudspeakers.
Early this morning (Saturday), all passengers received a letter from the Captain outside their cabin door. This explained what had really happened in detail, saying that following a private argument the crewmember had been physically assaulted and injured by a fellow crewmember. He subsequently passed away after having been airlifted off the ship. It was also informed that the assailant would be handed over to local law enforcement and that QM2's officers and Cunard were doing all they could to assist the appropriate authorities investigating the tragic event.
Finally the letter states: "We're sorry to convey this news during your holiday, but as a valued guest we felt it was important you be informed." It was signed by Captain Bernard Warner.
Personally I think the entire situation has been handled very professionally by everyone of the crew onboard QM2, most of all the ship's senior management. We, the passengers, were kept very well informed during the helicopter operation at sea. Importantly, we were also given the truth about what had really happened onboard before it became known to the outside world. The crew remains as service-minded as ever, but understandably deeply saddened by the recent events.
Today while docked in Bergen, the British Red Ensign flew on half mast from the stern of QM2.
Michael Gallagher, a Southampton-based Cunard spokesman, offered this statement: "The company are very shocked by this event and Cunard is in contact with the victim's family to whom we send our deepest sympathy."