The ship was passing through the English Channel when the wave struck it. An 85-year-old man and woman in her 70s were injured and airlifted to shore, but the man died of the injuries, according to multiple news reports.
In a statement Friday night, Cruise & Maritime Voyages said the company "regrets to advise that earlier today their cruise ship m/s Marco Polo, en-route to her home port of Tilbury from the Azores, was hit by a freak wave during adverse sea conditions in the south western approaches of the English Channel. One elderly passenger has died and a further passenger has been airlifted for further shore-side medical assistance."
The vessel was carrying 735 passengers -- mostly British -- at the time, according to the line. The ship departed its Tilbury, England, homeport January 5, 2014.