For the first time in a while, a cruise ship that was involved in a catastrophe (or near catastrophe) wasn’t owned by Carnival. (You can read about the most recent Carnival cruise ship incident here, which also discusses the many other disasters the industry giant has been involved with over the past year or so.) Instead, the affected ship this time – the Grandeur of the Seas – belongs to Royal Caribbean, the second largest cruise ship operator in the world after Carnival. Early on Memorial Day, the Grandeur of the Seas caught on fire, causing panic and an immediate crisis situation on a ship at sea with over 2,000 guests on board. Below is an overview of the fire on Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas, an episode that for the most part has now concluded, with the ship’s passengers home or en route thereto, although there is an ongoing investigation into what caused the fire in the first place.
While it is not clear exactly what caused the fire, we do know that it started with explosions – big explosions that caused fire to jump from the ship, at least according to one passenger. These explosions took place very early in the morning on Memorial Day, right before 3:00 AM, and the situation wasn’t under control until about four hours later. During this period, the level of fear on the ship was high. Passengers were awoken by loud knocks on their doors and the sound of alarms. They were led to a safer part of the ship, where all they could do is wait for updates. Passenger terror reached its zenith when the life boats began to be lowered in case the ship needed to be abandoned. As soon as this happened, people burst into tears. Despite the panic on the ship, news reports quote passengers approving of the way the captain and crew handled the situation. One person even said she and her family would definitely cruise with Royal Caribbean again on the basis of their response to the fire.
Needless to say, it was a terrifying night, but it could have been much worse. After the ship arrived to a port in the Bahamas, an emergency docking that occurred only a few hours after the fire was extinguished, it became clear that the ship suffered fairly extensive damage. A large part of the stern and its several decks were burned, and reportedly an entire dining area was damaged beyond repair by the fire. In other words, a large fire was consuming a ship filled with people, out in the ocean, and a situation like this can often end in utter disaster. Despite the damage, though, the ship did not lose its basic movement capabilities, enabling it to power itself back to shore. (The incident therefore stands in stark contrast to the one involving the Carnival Triumph. A fire in the engine room crippled this ship, so it had to be slowly pulled to shore for five days by tugboats while the ship became barely inhabitable.)
Also, every single passenger and staff member on the Grandeur of the Seas has been accounted for.
Not surprisingly, all the passengers on the ship were fully refunded and were flown back to the original return port in Baltimore. They were also given certificates for a future cruise, if they care to take one. So, the cruise was ruined, but at least the passengers can take another one if they want to. Most importantly, nobody died, and hopefully the investigation into the fire will help make cruise ships safer and less prone to spontaneous explosions.