A woman was airlifted to Townsville Hospital in a critical condition yesterday.
A woman was airlifted to Townsville Hospital in a critical condition yesterday. RACQ CQ Rescue

Woman airlifted from cruise ship north of Hamilton Island

A WOMAN was airlifted to Townsville Hospital in a critical condition yesterday after suffering a suspected serious brain bleed on a cruise ship.

An RACQ CQ Rescue statement said the woman was unconscious when the helicopter left at noon, flying 250km to the "Sea Princess", about 40 minutes north of Hamilton Island.

Due to weight restrictions, helicopter crews had to winch the doctor, a Critical Care Paramedic and a rescue crewman onto the deck of the ship.

While the doctor and paramedic assessed and intubated the woman, the helicopter refuelled at Hamilton Island, the statement said.

The unconscious woman, doctor, paramedic and crewman were winched up into the helicopter with the process taking about 20 minutes.

The woman was then airlifted to Townsville Hospital in a critical condition, arriving about 6pm.

RACQ CQ Rescue air crewman Quinton Rethus described the retrieval effort as a "marathon" as the vessel was beyond the reef.

Although very time consuming, the rescue helicopter crew were lucky the weather conditions were favourable and there was limited cloud and wind, he said.

"Sea Princess" dropped anchor at Airlie Beach on February 19, and was on its final leg of the 14-day voyage, en route to Brisbane.