Controlling the Images: How Royal Caribbean Handles PR During Cruise Ship Fires

Royal Caribbean Cruise PRPR News recently published an interesting article about how Royal Caribbean Cruises successfully handled its public relations image during the 2013 fire aboard the Grandeur of the Seas. Titled How Royal Caribbean Controls the Message During a Crisis, the article explains how the cruise line effectively controlled the narrative when the Grandeur caught on fire while cruising to Nassau.

PR Success: Immediately after the fire, Royal Caribbean quickly flew its president and a professional photographer to the port and tweeted photos of the cruise CEO interacting with guests "so that journalists would use those photos instead of a guest’s."

I mentioned this effective PR move in an article which I posted shortly after the fire titled Where Are Photo & Video Images of the Fire on the Grandeur of the Seas?  I commented on Royal Caribbean's new and improved PR efforts, but pointed out that the cruise line released more photos of the cruise CEO having tea with passengers after the fire than of the damage to the ship. 

A video report by ABC News helped to explain why there were no videos or photographs because the cruise ship's crew stopped passengers from taking images of the fire and chaos. Passenger Carrie royal Caribbean Cruise PRMcTigue told ABC News that "even when people put their cameras up to photograph the sunrise, they were told, 'no photos.'"

PR Disasters: But Royal Caribbean has not always been able to control the images shown to the public when its cruise ships catch on fire. In July 2015, the Freedom of the Seas caught on fire. When we learned that the Freedom was on fire while heading to port in Falmouth, Jamaica, we asked a former client who lives near the port to video the fire. He videotaped the ship coming into port, billowing a huge amount of smoke. We immediately posted the video, on our Facebook page, which was viewed by over a million people within two days. We also posted the video on this blog with other images of the fire and the passengers mustering to prepare to abandon the fire-stricken ship.

So when Royal Caribbean tried to spin the story, with a misleading statement by its CEO that the fire was allegedly "small and quickly extinguished," the public could make their own assessment regarding the size and ferocity of the fire. All of the major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) carried the video on their news programs and the international media included the video on their multi-media presentations.

The public was left with the impression that the cruise line was either completely out-of-touch with the danger posed to its guests or that it deliberately fabricated a falsehood to masquerade as the truth, which I suggested in the Royal Caribbean "Small Fire" Hoax.

Royal Caribbean also caused a public uproar after it sailed the Anthem of the Seas into a well publicized storm last year. Royal Caribbean's PR people tried to say that the storm was "unforeseeable" but weather professionals didn't buy it. They ripped the cruise line for routing the cruise ship directly into the storm. Read the Washington Post's 4,000-passenger cruise ship inexplicably sails into Atlantic mega-storm. Weather experts accurately predicted the Atlantic seas out of New Jersey to be over 30 feet high with winds of hurricane strength, but the Anthem nonetheless recklessly sailed into theRoyal Caribbean Cruise PR storm, terrorizing thousands of passengers and burning out the clutches of its azipods in the process. The Anthem returned to port in New Jersey with only one propulsion unit operating.

Royal Caribbean initially denied any damage or injury to the ship or the passengers and then falsely claimed that the only damage to the ship was "cosmetic." Al Roker, the popular television weatherman on the Today Show, best summed up Royal Caribbean's claim that the storm was not predicted: "Royal Caribbean's claim that this was not predicted is bullfeathers."  USA TODAY chimed in with "Meteorologists: Royal Caribbean blew it on sailing into storm."

Practice Makes Perfect?  The director of the cruise line's corporate communications, Cynthia Martinez, was quoted in the PR article as saying that that the company often "practices roundtable discussions of how to handle an issue, and sometimes they practice writing tweets and press releases for specific situations." So the next time that a Royal Caribbean ship catches on fire or sails into a storm, remember that what you may be seeing from this cruise line is what it wants you to believe rather than the reality of what actually occurred or - as Al Roker said - "bullfeathers."

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Medevac From Grandeur of the Seas

The U.S. Coast Guard reportedly medevaced a passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship off the North Carolina coast yesterday.

A 70-year-old man, experiencing abdominal pains while aboard the Grandeur of the Seas, as the ship was sailing south, was rescued. 

A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew and a C-130 Hercules aircraft crew was launched from ain Guard station in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The helicopter arrived at the cruise ship when it was about 150 miles southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.

The passenger was hoisted from the ship and onto the helicopter, and then taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, NC.

Video: 13 New Now  

 

 

 

Lifeboat Breaks Free From Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas LifeboatA lifeboat accident occurred this afternoon while the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas was in the port of Charleston.

A passenger aboard the cruise ship (who wishes to remain anonymous) informed me that a lifeboat had fallen from the cruise ship and was upside down in the water. He sent photographs of the lifeboat taken by other passengers. One photograph shows a cable which is are obviously frayed (bottom photo) and suggests that the cables may have broken and dropped the lifeboat into the water.

This raises obvious concerns that the other cables to the remaining lifeboats may be in a state of disrepair. These lifeboats carry as many as 150 guests. 

It is currently unknown whether the accident occurred during a lifeboat drill or whether there were crew members in the lifeboat when it fell. 

A newspaper in Charleston says that a "life raft" fell off the cruise ship, but this appears to clearly be an error. The photo above of the lifeboat upside down in the water which was sent to me can be compared to an online photo of a Grandeur lifeboat on davits (below); the metal rails on the side in both photos can be readily observed.  

The newspaper reports that the U.S. Coast Guard spokesman said "staff from the ship are attempting Grandeur of the Seas Lifeboatto retrieve the life raft and a team from the Coast Guard will assess any potential pollution impacts."

There are no reports at this time whether there are any crew member injuries at this time. The newspaper says that "there was no one was on the raft."

This is not the first lifeboat accident on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. In September, two crew members were killed and other crew members were critically injured after a lifeboat fell from the Harmony of the Seas, which was docked in Marseilles, France. Five members of the ship's navigation crew were on board during a drill when the lifeboat became detached and fell ten meters into the water. 

I boarded the Grandeur of the Seas last month with a maritime expert to inspect the lifeboats in a case where a crew member was seriously injured. One observation I left with was that this twenty-year old ship is a victim of deferred maintenance. You can see very heavy rust in the metal throughout the ship, particularly around the windows. Some of the rust is so serious that the windows near the upper, Granddeur of the Seas Lifeboatstarboard side near the stern have been replaced with temporary covers. (See photo at bottom). Earlier this year, another 20 year-old Royal Caribbean ship in the same Vision class, the Rhapsody of the Seas, suffered five windows on deck three breaking, injuring cruise passengers and partially flooding the cabins on decks two and three when the ship encountered rough weather. You can see the rusted windows here and on our Facebook page

Have a thought? Please leave  a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

January 17, 2017 Update: The Grandeur of the Seas arrives today at the port of Miami, without a lifeboat. The Grandeur apparently left the fallen lifeboat in Charleston. Has the Coast Guard inspected the other lifeboats? Photo (above) via @PTZtv.behind  

Photo Credit: middle - shipspotting

Top - Kenneth Kozak via News2-Charleston.

Below - Anonymous.

Bottom - Jim Walker.Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the Seas Lifeboat

Grandeur of the Seas Spots Abandoned Vessel Near Bermuda

Grandeur of the SeasThis morning the Grandeur of the Seas, cruising from Bermuda to Baltimore, changed course and took steps to assist what turned out to be a small abandoned vessel adrift on the high seas.

The Royal Caribbean cruise ship stopped and investigated the derelict vessel. Cruise ships often stop and administer assistance in circumstances like this. Royal Caribbean deployed a rescue boat and the crew also threw life rings into the water in the event that there were people aboard the vessel.  

The crew of the rescue boat observed that that there were signs that another vessel has visited the stranded boat before. The crew of the Grandeur then collected the life rings and brought the rescue crew back aboard, and returned on its cruise back to the U.S.

Lowering and raising rescue boats like this is potentially dangerous, but it is a task that crew members often perform on the high seas.

Photo credit:  Anonymous (above); cruise passenger Natt Penn (below).  

Grandeur of the Seas Bermuda to Baltimore (dereliict boat)

Passenger Medevaced from Grandeur of the Seas

Grandeur of the SeasA number of news stations are reporting that the Maryland State Police sent a helicopter to medevac a cruise passenger from the Grandeur of the Seas in the Chesapeake Bay.

The Maryland police officers were notified by the Coast Guard Friday evening that a passenger onboard the Royal Caribbean cruise ship needed to be taken to a hospital for cardiac care.

The helicopter crew stationed at St. Mary’s County Airport in Hollywood, Maryland, was the closest aircraft to the cruise ship which was sailing southwest of Tangier Island.

According to Southern Maryland Online, the Maryland State Police Aviation Command has served Maryland citizens since 1970, and operates a fleet of ten helicopters from seven bases throughout Maryland on a 24/7/365 basis. State Police Aviation Command crews have conducted several hoists of patients off cargo ships, but they believe this is the first hoist of a patient from a cruise ship.

The cruise ship sailed from Baltimore to the  Bahamas and Florida on a 7-night cruise.

Photo Credit:  J. Glover - Transferred from en.wikipedia. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Coast Guard Medevacs Passenger from Grandeur of the Seas

The U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a passenger yesterday Wednesday from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship 95 miles east of Cape Lookout, North Carolina.

The Grandeur of the Seas contacted the Coast guard yesterday afternoon, stating that a 71-year-old female passenger was suffering from abdominal pain.

The Coast Guard sent a MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter from Elizabeth City, North Carolina, at about 2:20 p.m. which arrived at the cruise ship around 4 p.m.

The helicopter lifted the passenger and her husband and a member of the ship's infirmary. The helicopter then flew Morehead City, North Carolina, to provide medical treatment to the passenger at a local hospital. 

 

 

Norovirus Forces Grandeur of the Seas' Early Return to Baltimore

Grandeur of the Seas Multiple news sources in Baltimore are reporting that over 200 passenger and crew members aboard the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas are stricken with norovirus, requiring the cruise ship to skip a port and return to its home port in Baltimore a day early.

A local CBS station says that "just over 200" guests and crew members came down with symptoms of norovirus and the cruise ship decided to return early so that they could receive medical attention.

WBAL Radio reports that there was a medical emergency for one at least one passenger and an outbreak of norovirus among nearly 200 others. 193 passengers and 9 crew members are ill with norovirus.

One passenger who contacted us says that Royal Caribbean promised $75 credit for missing the port of Labadee. The ship will be subjected to enhanced cleaning. 

The Grandeur has been in the news for norovirus in the last year.

If you have a comment, please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo Credit: J. Glover licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

Coast Guard Medevacs Injured Passenger from Grandeur of the Seas

The U.S. Coast Guard was summonsed to a Royal Caribbean cruise ship Friday night after a 58 year old woman was severely injured in a fall.

News accounts say that the Coast Guard responded to the Grandeur of the Seas.

The Coast Guard launched a rescue boat from a station in southern Maryland on the the Chesapeake Bay.

The 58 year old passenger and her husband were transported to the Point Lookout Marina and then airlifted to a trauma unit in Baltimore.

Photo credit: Wikipedia / J. Glover creative commons 3.0

Grandeur of the Seas

Person Overboard From Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas?

Cruise Law News has been told that a person allegedly went overboard from the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas as the cruise ship was returning from Bermuda to Baltimore earlier this week. 

The incident reportedly occurred around 3:00 AM late Wednesday night / early Thursday morning, August 7th.

According to a person on the cruise ship who wishes to remain anonymous, a state room attendant found a note when he entered the cabin on Thursday. The ship was searched, the CCTV Grandeur of the Seas cameras reviewed, and the overboard was eventually discovered.

The passenger was reportedly a U.S. citizen, 70 years old and traveling alone. The missing person alert was raised 12 hours or so after the overboard (from the CCTV review).

The cruise ship continued on to Baltimore. It didn't go back. There appears to be no search.

If this information is accurate, it appears that the incident may have involved a suicide. However, it also illustrates that the cruise line has still not installed automatic man overboard systems as required by the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010. The cruise safety law requires such technology regardless of whether the passenger or crew member intentionally jumped, accidentally went overboard, or was thrown into the ocean. 

There are lots of questions which remain unanswered. Did the captain of the cruise ship make any announcements?  Why didn't the ship turn around much earlier and conduct a search? Did the cruise ship notify the U.S. Coast Guard?

We have written about people going overboard from the Grandeur before.  

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein have documented 235 people (in addition to this one) going overboard from cruise ships since 2000. 

Are there passenger or crew members who have additional information to share?

Please leave a comment below or join, the discussion on our Facebook page.

August 10 2014 Update: This is the second overboard passenger from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship in the last two months who was not reported in the press or discussed in social media. Three weeks ago, we reported on a passenger who went overboard from the Splendor of the Seas. Fortunately the cruise line personnel quickly rescued him. You can read about that incident here

 

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / Citking

Vomiting & Diarrhea Bug Infects Passengers on Grandeur of the Seas

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 111 out of of 2122 passengers (5.23%) and 6 out of 790 crew (0.76%) have reported ill with gastrointestinal illness involving vomiting and diarrhea. The Royal Caribbean ship was on a 7 day cruise from Baltimore.

You can read the CDC report here. The CDC hasn't figured out yet whether the gastrointestinal outbreak was caused by norovirus. 

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein reports that cruise passengers have received the following Grandeur of the Seasinformation in an email:

"Hello, this is Royal Caribbean International. We would like to provide you with some important information regarding your Saturday, April 5th, sailing onboard Grandeur of the Seas out of the Port of Baltimore. During the ship's last sailing, a number of guests experienced a gastrointestinal illness. We will conduct enhanced sanitizing onboard the ship and within the terminal to help prevent any illness from affecting your cruise. Therefore, your check-in and boarding will be delayed. Because space and seating in the terminal is limited, we ask that you not arrive to the port before 2:00 PM. Check in will take place between 2:00 PM and 4:30 PM."

I always wonder about the effectiveness of "enhanced cleaning" when the CDC can't determine what the disease is much less how it can aboard the cruise ship.

Any passengers cruising this week please let us know whether the virus was eradicated or whether the outbreak continues.

 

 Photo Credit: Wikipedia / J. Glover

Coast Guard Responds to Injured Passenger on Grandeur of the Seas

The U.S. Coast Guard provided emergency transportation for an injured cruise ship passenger this morning.

The Coast Guard released a statement that it medevaced a 93-year-old man from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas in the lower Chesapeake Bay.

The Royal Caribbean ship contacted the Coast Guard via VHF-FM at approximately 9 p.m. Saturday night and reported that a passenger suffered a head injury and was in need of medical assistance.

The Coast Guard crew, together with Virginia Beach Fire Department personnel, responded with a 45-foot response boat. The crew arrived at the cruise ship at approximately 1:30 a.m. this morning. They transferred the man and his wife aboard the Coast Guard boat and took them ashore. The passengers were then transferred to local emergency medical services and taken to Virginia Beach General Hospital.

There is no indication how the passenger was injured.  Many people have informed us that the Grandeur encountered rough weather heading back to port, although it is unknown whether the passenger's injury was related to sea and wind conditions.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia / J. Glover

Grandeur of the Seas

Coast Guard Medevacs Sick Woman from Grandeur of the Seas

According to the Defense Video & Imagery Service, the U.S. Coast Guard medevaced a 56-year-passenger today from a cruise ship. 

The Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas notified the Coast Guard at approximately 10 PM last night that the woman was is medical distress. The cruise ship was approximately 300 miles east of Orlando, Florida. At approximately 3:30 AM this morning, a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules aircraft and an MH-60 Jayhawk took off by Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

The helicopter arrived at the cruise ship at 6:20 AM. and transported the woman to New Hanover Regional Medical Center in Wilmington, North Carolina.  

 

Is Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas Safe to Sail After Fire?

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.

Grandeur of the Seas Fire - Cruise Ship 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.

Grandeur of the Seas FireWhat 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?

 

Photo Credits:

Top: Cruise Critic Facebook

Bottom: Janeeva Russel / the Freeport News

What Caused the Grandeur of the Seas Fire?

Its been a week since a fire erupted on the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas.  

There has been widespread praise for the actions of the crew in extinguishing the fire, and for the manner in which the cruise line's public relations representatives kept the public informed via Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media.

But there has been little focus on the facts and circumstances surrounding the fire. What caused it? Why did it take two hours before the fire was extinguished?  And what can be done to prevent a cruise ship fire like this in the future?  

Grandeur of the Seas FireFew people are expressing interest in these basic questions. Most discussions at cruise and travel sites address the cruise line's compensation of reimbursing the cruise fare, chartering flights back to Baltimore, and providing a discount on a future cruise.

The cruising public seems focused primarily on obtaining a fun and affordable vacation.  When things go wrong during cruises, the focus turns primarily on whether passengers are going to get their money back and obtain other reimbursements for the lost vacation.    

The few websites which have addressed the issue of why the fire occurred almost uniformly seem to conclude that the public should not speculate, and everyone should wait until the "official report" is released.

What a naive thought. There still is no official report released into the cause of the fire which disabled the Carnival Splendor off the coast of Mexico in November 2010.  That was two and one-half years ago. The investigation is the responsibility of the flag-of-convenience country, Panama. Although Panama permitted investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard to be involved, it is Panama which is running the investigation.

The Bahamas is the flag-of-convenience country for the Grandeur of the Seas and is responsible for the investigation into the cause of the fire.  Although the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were invited to be involved, the Bahamas will be calling the shots. The Bahamas is also the flag state for the fire-disabled Carnival Triumph and there is no "official report" yet about that fire four months ago,  

Will the Bahamas prepare an objective, thorough, honest and timely report into the cause of the Grandeur fire? Don't expect one anytime soon.  

Many people who have contacted us point out that the aft of the cruise ship where the fire started is a location where crew members catch a quick smoke.  There is also a crew bar on the stern of the ship. Did a crew member flick a cigarette which ignited the mooring lines?  If true, that would be an unpopular theory considering the great amount of praise that the crew members are receiving for extinguishing the fire.

If a cigarette was involved, was it flicked from an upper passenger balcony?  We will probably never know the culprit. A cigarette can cause a fire which smolders and then suddenly bursts into flames, like the deadly Star Princess fire in 2006.

Was it a fire of an electrical origin? Some have suggested that. Was it arson and intentionally set? I have heard that too.

Why was the fire not automatically extinguished?

Should the public be asking these questions? Is it appropriate to demand honest answers sooner than later?

Or should we avoid speculation and wait several years to see if an "official report" is finally issued by the Bahamas several years from now? 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment on our Facebook page about this case.

June 3 2013 Update: We received this interesting information from a experienced crew member who wishes to remain anonymous:

"If the fire initiated on deck 3 aft, this is the place where are located all the mooring ropes, and it is also the mooring deck. Now you know from the fire on the Ecstacy, how much are dangerous the polypropylene mooring ropes, once they are ignited. The mooring deck 4, is also officially a smoking area for crew, it seems strange, but it is what it is. All crew, specially from galleys goes in the aft mooring deck for smoking and mingling together, although this is nonsense, still Royal allows to do so. I personally think that a cigarette butts once again, started it all. I cannot conceive anything else. To be noted that in the aft mooring deck, there is also the CO2 station, with all the batteries of big CO2 cylinders that are deputed to extinguish fires in the engine rooms, if this area is compromised, CO2 will be affected as well. Also, I am sure Royal made all the possible moves to make disappear the 2 barbecue grills that are located there, mooring deck aft is also the place where once a month all crew gather together for a nice party, usually hosted by the deck department.......

Since the fire on the Ecstasy, SOLASs wanted to install a sprinkler system also in the mooring deck, but this system is manually activated then is not activated automatically. If the sprinkler were automatic, fire would be extinguished more quickly. In the aft mooring deck, is located also the paint locker, a source also of a lot of things that can get easily fire.

One deck above the mooring deck, there is the crew bar area, where it is possible to smoke as well. It is also the place where a lot of crew get trashed with alcohol. I don't exclude also, that someone might throw a cigarette overboard, and this returning back on board, ignited the mooring ropes,,,,very easy, again happened in the past, with Princess and the fire in the balconies. The crew bar is open deck, one deck above the mooring deck, on this level there is also the emergency diesel generator. One deck above, on level 5, there are the spare life rafts and the crew muster stations.

This time they were lucky, because a massive fire, could have the ship totally impaired, CO2 stations, emergency generator, crew muster stations, spare life rafts might all getting burned......."

      

Photo Credit: Reuters

Did the Grandeur of the Seas Fire Compromise the Crew Member Emergency Evacuation System?

Fire Evacuation System - Grandeur of the SeasCruise ships like Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas have different emergency evacuation systems for the passengers and the crew.  Passengers are loaded onto lifeboats at their muster stations on the port and starboard sides of the ship and then lowered into the water. The lifeboat is motored away from the burning or sinking ship by a crew member.

Crew members, on the other hand, are required to use life-rafts which are jettisoned into the sea from large canisters primarily located at the stern of the ship.  

You can see right canisters in the image above and sixteen canisters located at the stern of the Grandeur in the video below (credit: solandtravel / YouTube) which was sent to my attention this morning by cruise expert Professor Ross Klein

These canisters, and the evacuation chutes and life-rafts therein, appear to have been destroyed or partially burned during in the two hour fire early Monday morning (see photo below right, via WTSP.com).  It is my understanding that the life-rafts have a capacity of around 25 persons each. So assuming these 16 canisters were all that were destroyed in the fire, life-rafts for around 400 crew members - about 50% of the crew - may have been burned up.

Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship FireThere are some "extra" canisters on the cruise ship, but not nearly enough to accommodate all of the crew.

If the fire on the Grandeur had not been extinguished, the passengers would have been safely evacuated in the lifeboats which had already been lowered to deck level and were awaiting loading upon order of the ship's Master. But a few hundred crew members may have found themselves faced with jumping into the water.

Considering that a nearby Carnival cruise ship was on standby, and Coast Guard vessels were enroute, the crew members without a life-raft may have been transferred to other vessels in this particular case.  But a fire like this which is not contained, and which occurs further at sea and in rougher weather, may pose serious consequences to the crew's safety. 

June 3 2013 Update: What Caused the Fire Aboard the Grandeur of the Seas?

  

Where Are Photo & Video Images of the Fire on the Grandeur of the Seas?

Cruise fans have largely praised Royal Caribbean's public relations efforts in responding to the fire which erupted aboard the Grandeur of the Seas early Monday morning.

Royal Caribbean tweeted updates from its new Twitter PR feed @RoyalCaribPR and updated its Facebook page. It uploaded one photo showing a portion of the damage to to fire stricken cruise ship (a good PR move) and one image of cruise president Goldstein inspecting the damage once the ship arrived in Freeport.  But most of the of the photos Royal Caribbean released were of the cruise president and executives meeting with cruise passengers at the port and on the cruise ship

The question I wondered was where are the photos and video of the fire? We have handled other cruise ship fires. There are usually videos taken by passengers which quickly find their way to the media and/or are posted on YouTube, as in the case of the deadly Star Princess fire off the coast of Cruise Line President Adam Goldstein - Grandeur of the Seas FireJamaica. You can't comprehend a ship fire until you have seen the flames and billowing smoke and listened to the frightening sounds surrounding such an event.

The first information released about the Grandeur fire was that the fire was limited to deck 3. But in truth, the fire damaged decks 3, 4, 5 and a portion of 6 deck and burned for 2 hours.

So where are images of this 2 hour multi-deck fire?

A video report by ABC News states that the cruise ship's crew tried to stop passengers from taking pictures of the fire and chaos.

Carrie McTigue told ABC News that "even when people put their cameras up to photograph the sunrise, they were told, 'no photos.'"  

I have seen Royal Caribbean try and stop passengers from taking photos of what the passengers though was a near collision between Royal Caribbean and Disney cruise ships which you can see in a video here. But some crew members responded that there is a policy against the taking of photos during a muster drill and that's why the crew interfered with the photography.

I am a big fan of "citizen journalists."  I believe that photos and video taken by passengers and crew are an important part in telling the whole story of what really happens during ship fires and other cruise calamities.  Even with Royal Caribbean's new and improved PR efforts, the fact remains that the cruise line released more photos of the cruise CEO reassuring passengers than of the damage to the ship. Plus there are absolutely no photos or video released of the fire itself.

Better cruise PR is still cruise PR. The cruise line still wants to control the images you see and your feelings about the experience. 

Two and one-half years after the Carnival Splendor fire, there have been no photos or video released of the fire or the damage to the engine room (or even a report) regarding the disabled cruise ship. Regarding the more recent Carnival Triumph fire, again there are no images released of the fire. I am aware of only one innocuous photo of the fire damage in the engine room which was released by the Coast Guard. 

Secrecy like this is not a good thing. The American public should not settle for a few photos of a cruise CEO drinking ice tea with passengers in a cafe after a ship fire. The release of full and complete reports, photos and video are important to maintain a transparent and safe cruising environment.

 

Have a thought?  Please leave a comment below, or discuss the issue on our Facebook page.

ABC News: Passengers on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas Heard "Big Explosions"

According to ABC News, passengers aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas said they heard "big explosions" after a fire broke out early Monday morning, charring the stern of the ship and forcing an early end to the cruise.

Royal Caribbean said the fire was discovered at 2:50 AM on Monday on the mooring area on deck three. The decks above were charred in the fire. Passenger remained at their muster stations until around 7:15 AM. 

Passenger Luke Sluscher, 20, was awakened by the commotion. When he stepped outside his room, he "heard crew yelling mayday, mayday, as they ran to put out the fire."  

Royal Caribbean is now flying passengers back to Baltimore from Freeport, Bahamas. Passengers will receive a full refund of their fare and a certificate for a future cruise.

Royal Caribbean's PR team received high marks for using social media to keep the public informed and by flying its president, Adam Goldstein, to the scene.

Watch the remainder of the story below:

 

 

Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas Catches on Fire

News stations in South Florida are reporting that a fire broke out early this morning aboard a Royal Caribbean cruise ship sailing off the Florida coast.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, the fire broke out aboard the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas

The fire occurred on deck three on the 916-foot ship.

A NBC news station said that the fire was categorized as a “Class A” fire, meaning it broke out in solid Grandeur of the Seas Cruise Ship Firecombustible materials such as wood or plastic and did not involve fuel or other flammable liquids.

The cruise ship radioed for assistance. Another cruise ship, the Carnival Sensation, was on on standby to help the ship in case of evacuation. Passenger gathered at muster stations.

The fire was extinquished, although there are conflicting accounts of how long it took. A comment on the Cruise Critic site says that it took two hours to stop the fire.

A photo released by Royal Caribbean shows a huge fire and smoke residue on the stern of the cruise ship.

The Grandeur of the Seas was recently given a $48 million refurbishment and was based in Baltimore, according to the Royal Caribbean website.

The Grandeur was on its way to Coco Cay, Bahamas, when the fire broke out, according to a Royal Caribbean Cruises statement.  The ship is now in Freeport, Bahamas, where it will be inspected.  

Were you on the cruise? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

 

 

Photo below via ABC / cruise expert Professor Ross Klein:

Grandeur of the Seas - Cruise Ship Fire