A COUPLE'S cruise to the Norwegian fjords ended in misery only 11 miles from shore when the woman slipped and suffered a shoulder injury.

The unnamed couple were among the 1,250 passengers on the Thomson Celebration, the North-East's newest cruise liner, which set sail from North Shields on Sunday for a seven-night trip to Scandanavia.

But their journey - which would have cost them £1,400 to £1,600 - came to an end when the woman had to be taken ashore by lifeboat after she slipped on a staircase.

The RNLI lifeboat from Tynemouth, North Tyneside, went out to the ship, the biggest ever to embark from the North-East, to bring her back to shore, where she was taken to hospital.

An RNLI spokesman: "This woman slipped and fell, a few miles from shore. It looked as though she suffered a broken collar bone.

"The big all-weather lifeboat went out to pick up the woman, her husband and their luggage.

"Most of the big cruisers have a door pretty low down that can be opened and a gangplank would have been lowered down to the lifeboat.

"The woman was on a stretcher and brigade members assisted in transferring the casualty to the ambulance back at the port.

"We often get people coming off smaller ships - such as seamen who get injured - but not normally from ships like this.''

A spokesman for the company said: "The passenger tripped as she went from deck four to three on the staircase and did some damage to the shoulder.

"The medical centre examined her and said it would be best if she had hospital treatment, so a sea ambulance came out and took her back to the dock where an ambulance was waiting to take her to North Tyneside Hospital.

"The passenger was very disappointed to have missed out on the first cruise from Newcastle.

"The cruises are proving very popular. That one was sold out and so is the next one, which sails next week.''

The 33,950-ton cruiser was bought by Thomson in November and has a casino, show lounge, two swimming pools, cinemas and three restaurants. The ship cost £160m to build and carries up to 1,350 passengers.

It will sail to Norway and the Baltic states.