A CRUISE ship which is retracing the route of the ill-fated liner Titanic has made a short detour after a BBC cameraman fell ill and was airlifted off.

The MS Balmoral left Southampton on Sunday for a 12-night cruise to commemorate the centenary of the sinking of the liner that hit an iceberg on its maiden voyage.

The same number of 1,309 passengers - not including crew - are aboard the MS Balmoral as on the ill-fated ship with around 50 having a direct family connection to the sinking.

Yesterday BBC cameraman Tim Rex, 56, fell ''seriously ill'' and on doctor's advice, the ship, which is off the Irish coast, was turned around to be closer to the shore so he could be airlifted off by helicopter at about 7pm.

The ship has now continued on its journey and is expected to keep to its schedule and arrive at the wreck site in time for a planned memorial service.

A BBC spokesman said: ''Unfortunately a BBC staff member was taken seriously ill while covering the cruise to the site of the Titanic.

''Following advice from the ship's doctors he has been taken ashore to receive urgent medical treatment.''

A spokeswoman for Fred Olsen, which is running the cruise, said that the ship had to turn around and make a 20 nautical mile detour in order for Mr Rex to be airlifted off.

She added: ''At Fred Olsen and Titanic Memorial Cruises the safety and well-being of all guests and crew is paramount, and this decision has been made in conjunction with Titanic Memorial Cruises, as charterer of 'Balmoral' for this voyage.''