Six weeks ago, the Grandeur of the Seas burst into flames on the high seas. It took two hours before the crew could finally extinguish the blaze. The cruise ship has since been in dry dock in the Bahamas under repair.
Yesterday travel agents and the cruise & travel media who Royal Caribbean invited aboard the cruise sailed on a one day cruise out of Baltimore for promotional purposes. Today passengers will sail on a one week cruise. One news station out of Baltimore broadcast that the Grandeur is "repaired and ready to sail."
The problem is that repairs to the cruise ship are still ongoing.
Over 150 passengers from 78 cabins were bumped from the cruise today because their cabins are still being reconstructed.
Travel agents aboard the ship report that repair work is still ongoing. According to Cruise Critic, in addition to the 78 cabins which are not ready for passengers, several lounges (Diamond Club & South Pacific Lounge) which burned last month will remain closed.
The concern that I have when I hear news like this is whether the cruise ship is really ready to sail and, most importantly, safe for passengers to cruise? Remember that there has been no report released of what caused the fire in the first place. We previously wrote about the tendency of the cruise lines to bring their ships back to service quickly and long before the official analysis is completed, assuming an official report is ever prepared. Read What Caused the Grandeur of the Seas Fire?
The investigation into the Grandeur fire is being overseen by the Bahamas, with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Cruise Critic says that the "Bahamas Maritime Authority is currently drafting a final report on the incident." Hogwash. The Bahamas was responsible for investigating the fire which disabled the Carnival Triumph (the infamous "poop cruise" five months ago) and the Bahamas has still not finalized a report on that cruise fire yet.
And there has been no report released on the cause of the other high profile cruise ship fire which occurred aboard Carnival's Splendor and left it disabled. That fire occurred over two and one-half years ago. Another flag of convenience country (Panama) was responsible for overseeing that investigation, but has released nothing.
Its seems irresponsible to pile many thousands of travel agents and cruise passengers (not to mention the hard working crew) aboard the ship without telling the guests why the last time the Grandeur sailed several thousands of people stood at their muster stations in the middle of the night watching the lifeboat being deployed as the fire raged for two hours.
What caused the fire? Why was the fire not extinguished by an automatic system? Is there even an automatic suppression at the mooring area at the stern of the ship? If not, shouldn't one be installed?
Were any of the travel agents and travel media asking these questions? Do any of the passengers boarding the cruise ship this morning care about these basic issues?
It doesn't seem so. A local CBS station in Baltimore aired these comments from travel agents:
You always tell your clients things happen. Fires happen on land, they’re going to happen at sea,” said Paul Cathcart, travel agent.
“Nobody was hurt. You got free drinks. You got an extra day at sea,” said Donna Lopez, travel agent.
Join the discussion on Facebook - was the fire caused by a cigarette? An electrical problem? Should the public trust the cruise lines to tell the truth?
Top: Cruise Critic Facebook
Bottom: Janeeva Russel / the Freeport News