Friday evening, a fire broke out on the Dawn Princess. 30 minutes after the first public announcement, the cruise ship's captain ordered the passengers to their muster stations where they remained for over another hour until the fire was extinguished.
We first learned of the fire when a reader of this blog contacted us on Saturday. We followed up with a request for information from the public which we made on our Facebook page. On Sunday morning, we posted a first hand account from a passenger currently aboard the cruise ship.
This particular passenger indicated that the crew handled the emergency well. The ship was back to business as usual within three hours of the first report of the fire. Even the bars were packed!
But lacking from the account was an explanation or even any curiosity regarding why the fire broke out in the first place; why the passengers were ordered to muster 30 minutes after the fire was first reported; and why it apparently took well over an hour for the fire to be extinguished.
We requested a statement from Princess Cruises on Sunday. We received a two skimpy sentence response with no explanation regarding what caused the fire and why it was not extinguished by the automatic suppression systems.
Today there have been no national or international newspapers covering the story. Travel Agent Central published a story quoting our account. Cruise Critic just wrote a three sentence story that contained even less substance than the meager cruise line statement.
No major media companies have published anything about the event. The sentiment from regular cruisers who have contacted us seems nonchalant with no inquiries regarding why & how the fire erupted.
I understand that people who are in the middle of a cruise vacation would prefer to continue their fun-filled vacation than conduct a worrisome forensic cause & origin analysis. But the public's understanding of incidents like this is important to maintaining a safe and responsible cruise industry. A vigilant press which asks tough questions is a fundamental part of that process.
Even a small fire that is quickly extinguished is potentially a big deal when you are on the high seas.
Remember that the deadly Star Princess fire started off with something as small and seemingly innocuous as a cigarette smoldering in a towel on a balcony. The result was an inferno which ravaged the ship, destroyed 100 cabins, killed one passenger and injured many others (photo right).
I'm wondering if the major newspapers are burned out on fires at sea?
Photo Credit top: Wikimedia (Stan Shebs)