Yesterday was a rather strange day.  I received  a couple of calls and emails asking for information about a cruise ship fire which ruined the honeymoon of Tina Fey. 

Tina Fey?  The comic, I asked?  You mean the Saturday Night Live star with the great impressions of Sarah Palin?  The star of NBC’s 30 Rock??  On her honeymoon on a cruise ship which caught fire, I asked???  Yes, that’s right the inquiring minds insisted, mentioning something about "reading Tina Fey - Cruise Ship Fire - Honeymoonabout it in the newspapers."

Hmm.  The last cruise ship fire I am  aware of involved the Mexican cruise ship, the Ocean Star Pacifica, earlier this week.  A generator fire knocked out power to the cruise ship, forcing the evacuation of its passengers and crew.  Certainly a celebrity like Tina Fey would not be caught dead slumming on a 41 year old Mexican cruise ship.  Maybe she sailed on a super luxury ship like the Silver Cloud  or the Seabourn Sojourn but certainly not an old tub like the Ocean Star.   

So I googled Tina Fey and cruise ship fire and sure enough, there were a dozen "articles" about the topic.  But the "newspapers" were all gossip rags like STAR magazine which published the  "breaking story" "Fey’s Honeymoon Cruise Was Wrecked By Fire," which gave this account:

Comedienne Tina Fey will always remember her honeymoon for all the wrong reasons – the cruise ship she and her husband were sailing home to New York from Bermuda on caught fire.

The actress/writer admits the voyage had been a lot of fun until she found herself standing by a lifeboat about to abandon ship.

Fey recalls, "The ship was on fire, so we had to go and stand by our lifeboats… and we really had to stand women and children in the front, men in the back, and I remember holding hands with my husband, thinking like, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re gonna be one of those people on the news that died on Seth Meyer - Cruise Ship - Saturday Night Livetheir honeymoon…’ and he said he was thinking… ‘It’s gonna be so hard for her when they bring the lifeboats down and she stays with me’.  I was thinking, ‘It’s gonna be so hard for him when I get on that lifeboat.  But it all worked out.’

This account intrigued me even more.  Tina Fey is a joker but certainly she would not joke about something as serious as a cruise ship fire with passengers about to abandon ship. 

So I did a little research, and found out that the incident did occur although it certainly was not "breaking news."  The fire occurred in June 2001, and involved Royal Caribbean’s Nordic Empress.  

The Nordic Empress was sailing back from Bermuda to New York following a 7 day cruise. The fire erupted when the cruise ship was about 140 miles northwest of Bermuda.

The Royal Caribbean PR people said that the fire "was quickly extinguished by the ship’s crew and Adam Sandler - Going Overboard - Cruise Shipits sprinkler system." 

The Coast Guard investigation revealed that the fires in the engine room were not completely extinguished for three hours.  The damage caused the vessel to be adrift for seven hours. (The country of Liberia, where the cruise ship was flagged, invited the U.S. Coast Guard to conduct the inspection).

You can read the marine casualty report here, and you can review an excellent summary of the incident by the Professional Mariner here.

Saturday Night Live (SNL) has entertained the public with some funny skits about cruise ships over the years.  Seth Meyer did a funny bit about Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas.  Adam Sandler starred in a unfunny movie called "Going Overboard." 

But unlike her co-stars on SNL, Tina Fey went through the real deal – a fire which disabled the cruise ship and caused over 1,500 passengers to stand at their muster stations on the deck at night ready to abandon ship – only to now laugh about it ten years later.