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A desperate search is underway for a cruise ship passenger who is believed to have fallen overboard outside Sydney Harbour

A cruise ship has not docked this morning due to fears a passenger had fallen overboard in the waters outside Sydney Harbour.

The P&O Pacific Adventure stopped about 20km off Sydney Heads after reports that a man had fallen overboard just after 4am, with a passenger telling radio station 2GB that the ship had been in “search and rescue mode” since the incident.

The ship was due to dock in Sydney Harbor at 6am on Monday morning but remains in the waters off Sydney as a desperate search takes place.

“Police are leading the search in the waters off Sydney following reports that a person was in the water,” NSW Police confirmed to SkyNews.com in a statement.

“Emergency services received reports that a person had gone overboard from a vessel 10 nautical miles off Sydney Heads.

“NSW Police Marine Area Command has deployed a number of resources to search for the individual and is leading the coordination of the water search.”

The Carnival Splendor, which was also due to arrive in Sydney Harbor at 6am, has also stopped in the waters off the eastern suburbs.

A rescue helicopter has also been spotted in the area at a flight tracking location.

P&O Cruises Australia told SkyNews.com that the Pacific Adventure “conducted a search and rescue operation” after the person overboard alarm sounded at 4am.

“Since then, the vessel carrying more than 2,600 guests has been conducting a search on site, along with other nearby vessels deployed to the area by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s Joint Rescue Coordination Centre,” the spokesperson said.

“This guest’s family is being cared for by our onboard team while every effort is made to locate them.

“Pacific Adventure’s arrival at White Bay Terminal this morning has been postponed while the search continues.”

The Pacific Adventure returns from a three-day cruise to Moreton Island in Queensland.

The Carnival Splendor was reportedly cleared to dock shortly before 9 a.m.