A MAN is lucky to be alive after plunging from a cruise ship that left Southampton, wearing just his underpants.

A major rescue operation was launched in the middle of the Atlantic after he fell overboard from the Ventura, which left the city last week.

Passengers onboard the P&O Cruise liner were heading to the Caribbean when they were woken in the early hours of Friday morning as horns were sounded and lifeboats were launched.

The man, believed to be aged between 30 and 50-years-old, was spotted by passengers and he was hauled aboard wearing nothing but his underpants.

A spokesperson from P&O would not say if the man was a crew member but said he was “stable” in the ship's medical centre.