UPDATE: Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship Catches Fire

Royal Caribbean
Posted at 2:49 PM, May 27, 2013
and last updated 2014-07-14 12:14:47-04

UPDATE (May 27, 2013 - 5:15 P.M.)

MIAMI, Fla. (AP)- Royal Caribbean says a fire that broke out aboard a ship has forced it to cancel the rest of the cruise and that more than 2,000 passengers will be flown back to Baltimore from the Bahamas.

The cruise line says the fire that began at 2:50 a.m. Monday was extinguished about two hours later with no injuries reported. A cause wasn't immediately known.

Royal Caribbean said in a series of tweets later Monday that executives have met with passengers aboard the ship and that the cruise line is arranging flights for all guests on Tuesday.

It said passengers will receive a full refund of their fare and a certificate for a future cruise.



PORT CANAVERAL, Fla. (ABC News) -- Passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas were awakened and sent to their muster stations after a fire on one of the cruise ship's decks early Monday morning. No injuries were reported.

Royal Caribbean International said the fire was discovered at 2:50 a.m. ET on the mooring area on deck three of its 11 decks. The company said the fire was extinguished and the affected area was cordoned off. Guests were allowed to return to their staterooms, the company said, at 7:15 a.m. ET.

The extent of the fire was not immediately clear but RCI said all systems were still operating on the ship. A picture tweeted by RCI public relations showed the rear of the ship at port with significant fire and smoke damage.

Medical staff reported two guests were treated after fainting, with one report of high blood pressure and another of cramps.

"In an abundance of caution, the captain deemed it necessary to muster all guests at their assembly stations. All 2,224 guests and 796 crew have been accounted for, and there have been no injuries of guests or crew reported. The safety of our guests and crew is our top priority, and we will continue to focus on their needs and concerns," according to a statement from the company.

The incident follows a series of high-profile cruise ship mishaps. The Carnival Triumph was idle for nearly a week at sea in the Gulf of Mexico following an engine room fire on its way from Galveston, Texas, to Cozumel, Mexico in February. In April, it broke away from its mooring in Mobile, Ala. while 800 people were on board.

Nathan Pletscher wasn't concerned after talking to his parents, who are in their 50s and were aboard the ship, until he saw the photo tweeted by Royal Caribbean's public relations team.

"We originally saw a news article and were a little nervous. When we made contact with my parents, they said there was a small fire. When I saw the photo on Twitter, I said, 'That was a little more than a small fire.' It's really fortunate the crew was able to get fire under control and things of that nature," said Pletscher, of Reading, Pa.

Pletscher's parents, also from Reading, and his wife's aunt and uncle are staying on the ship tonight while it is in Freeport. Once the cruise ship landed, they decided to make the most of the interruption to do some shopping on land.

Pletscher said his parents, with whom he traveled to Bermuda last summer, had a "sense of panic" and were "obviously nervous," but the ship's crew managed the situation. The passengers followed what they learned during the drill and put on lifejackets. The lifeboats were lowered just in case.

"When the alarm first went off, there as an 'uh-oh' moment," Pletscher said. "But they couldn't say enough about how organized and professional both the captain and crew were. They kept everyone calm and were extremely transparent on with the whole situation."

Grandeur had just begun to sail earlier this month out of the Port of Baltimore after $48 million in upgrades. Its new amenities include a 220-square foot poolside movie screen. It is Royal Caribbean's second-smallest class of ship at 74,000 tons.

Grandeur of the Seas was en route to CocoCay, Bahamas, as part of a seven-night trip that left Baltimore on May 24. It arrived in Freeport, Bahamas, "for further evaluation" at 10:15 a.m. ET today, the company tweeted, and will dock overnight there.

"Some guests are staying onboard, while others have chosen to spend the day on shore," the company said.

The itinerary included port calls to Port Canaveral, Fla.; CocoCay and Nassau, Bahamas.

Just last week, the Cruise Lines International Association introduced a cruise passenger bill of rights, stating when cruise lines will issue full or partial refunds for canceled or interrupted voyages, which many companies already offer.

In April, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. reported first quarter profit of $76.2 million, up from $47 million in the same quarter last year. Revenue increased 4.2 percent to $1.91 billion. The line has 21 ships and brands including Celebrity, Azamara, Pullmantur and CDF Croisières de France.

Catherine Banks of Legacy Travel said initial reports seem to indicate the ship is functioning normally.

"If this had happened by itself and not in the shadow of everything that's happened, it wouldn't be on anybody's radar," Banks said referring to recent cruise industry troubles.

Entering peak travel season, the cruise industry is especially sensitive to negative publicity, though RCI has not reported any major problems.

Carnival, the largest cruise operator, which has also had the most ship malfunctions, had recently lowered its earnings outlook based on cancellations. And with much of a cruise company's revenue collected from on-board expenses, fewer people on board will crunch their bottom line.

"Carnival will do whatever they have to do. They will not sail with empty cabins," Banks said.