An Azamara cruise ship, the Quest, reportedly caught fire in the Sulu Sea, between the Philippines and Borneo.
The story was first mentioned on Twitter by Simon Browning, a reporter for BBC Radio 4, whose twitter handle is @simbrowning. Around 9:24 AM this morning, Mr. Browning tweeted: "hearing reports a cruise ship is on fire in Borneo - that there is chaos on board #Cruise #Borneo its full of western tourists.
The blaze reportedly occurred in the engine room on the Quest which departed on Monday for a 17-night cruise from Hong Kong to Singapore. Azamara is owned by Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., which is based in Miami.
A cruise spokesperson stated: “On Friday, March 30, at approximately 8.19pm ship time, Azamara Quest experienced a fire in the engine room. The fire was contained to the engine room and was quickly extinguished."
The cruise line states that passengers mustered at their fire assembly stations. No passengers were reportedly injured although the cruise press release is silent regarding injuries to crew. The cruise line states that the ship is "currently running on generator power," although there is no information whether the vessel can cruise to a port under its own power. There is also no information about the weather conditions.
We have written many article about cruise ship fires over the years. Deadly cruise ship fires occur more frequently than the cruise industry is willing to admit. Consider reading: "Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires - Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?"
It will be interesting to hear first hand accounts from the passengers, whether the fire was "quickly extinguished" and how the crew handled the emergency.
Were you on the cruise? Please leave a comment or send us photos or video.
March 30, 20121 / 11:30 PM Update:
We obtained a copy of an email (below) from the Navigation Officer aboard the Quest cruise ship to the Philippines Coast Guard indicating that one crew member, Juan Carlos Rivera Escobar, was in "unstable condition" following the cruise ship fire.
It is disappointing that the cruise line would state that all passengers are uninjured and not mention the injuries to this crew member.
The last know coordinates of the stricken Quest ship per the email are Lat: 7' 35'N / Long: 119' 59' E.
The email indicates that the vessel is "not under command."
This information comes not from the cruise line but from newspaper sources on twitter.
Credit: Miquel Ortilla
March 31, 2012 Update / 1:00 AM Update:
The Azamara facebook page finally indicates that many crew members were seriously injured in the fire, as we suspected:
"Unfortunately, five crew members onboard the ship suffered smoke inhalation during the fire. The crew members are being treated in our medical facility. However, one crew member is more seriously injured and requires additional and urgent medical attention that can only be provided in a hospital. Once the ship arrives in Sandakan, the crew member will be immediately transported to a local area hospital."
The facebook page includes contact information for families:
1 - 888 - 829 - 4050 from the US and Canada.
1 - 408 - 916 - 9001 outside the US.
The Royal Caribbean operators will take calls only from families.
Newspaper / media inquiries must email firstname.lastname@example.org
April 2, 2012 Update: The Quest limped into port in Sandakan, Malaysia and have high praise for the captain and crew. The seriously injured crew member was finally taken to the hospital.