Domnica Cemortan, the ex-lover of Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino, has claimed that as the liner was sinking, he took her to the top deck hoping for a speedy and preferential evacuation via helicopter.

Cemortan said that the captain led her and cruise maître Ciro Onorato - the brother of former Costa Crociere director general Gianni Onorato - up to the 11th deck, shortly after ordering passengers to abandon the ship.

"Schettino maintains he went there to check the starboard side, but I say we were waiting for a helicopter to take us away," she told Italian glossy magazine Oggi.

"While a hell was unleashed on board and dozens were dying, a fast-track, painless way out was being prepared for a few privileged."

According to the 26-year-old, although the man later dubbed "Captain Coward" never suggested that an aircraft was to come for them, it was clear they headed to the top deck in order to be picked up.

As they reached their destination, Schettino looked around impatiently as if he was waiting for something, she said.

"At one point he uttered: 'But no one can see us here!' The reference seemed unequivocal to me," Cemortan said. "Who was supposed to see us at night on top of the ship? No one could possibly see us from below, so, evidently, we were supposed to make ourselves visible to [someone] above."

After about 20 minutes of waiting Schettino received a phone call, the young Moldovan said.

"I asked him if a helicopter was coming but he replied that plans had changed and we ought to go back to the lower decks," she said.

A former ballerina, Cemortan was on the bridge when the Costa Concordia crashed on to rocks off the island of Giglio in January 2012, having dined with Schettino just minutes before the incident.

Also a Costa Corciere employee, she was on board on vacation and later admitted she had a love affair with the captain.

Her revelations came a week after she gave Schettino a six-day ultimatum, warning him that she was to tell the whole truth if he wasn't to do so himself in a Facebook posting. The deadline expired as the interview hit the stands.

Schettino is on trial over the shipwreck that killed 32 people. Prosecutors allege he steered the ship too close to the island of Giglio to perform a sail-past salute, causing the liner hit a rock, become flooded, and then capsize.

The captain has also been accused of dithering in ordering the evacuation, which he then failed to coordinate properly as he allegedly abandoned the ship with hundreds still on board.

He is facing up to 20 years in jail on charges of manslaughter, causing a shipwreck, and abandoning ship.

He is the sole defendant and denies the charges.