Carnival Cruise Ship Ecstasy FireThe media’s microscope is focused on Carnival right now following the large number of recent engine and propulsion problems involving the Carnival Triumph, Dream, Elation & Legend and the Carnival-owner P&O Cruises’ Ventura cruise ships.   

The defenders of the cruise line are responding to the PR mess by insisting that such incidents are "rare."  But you will find no historical perspective, and no reference to a data-base of any type.

Business Insider posted an article today: "A Photo History Of Carnival Cruise Ship Disasters."  There were a couple of interesting photographs of the fire which erupted aboard the Carnival Ecstasy in 1998 as the cruise ship was trying to said out of Government Cut at Miami Beach.  The two photos below, via Reuters, I have never seen before.

Carnival’s passengers and crew members were extremely lucky in that incident. The ship’s on-board system did not suppress the fire, which charred the entire stern of the ship. But the incident occurred near the port. Other vessels were able to quickly respond and eventually extinguish the fire. If the fire had occurred just an hour or two later on the high seas and away from the fire boats, the Ecstasy would have burned down to the hull.

The Business Insider article contains a link to the NTSB report of the fire, which is interesting reading.

I was disappointed that the article did not mention the deadly Star Princess cruise ship fire in 2006. This cruise ship was operated by Carnival-owned Princess Cruises. This fire is an important piece of evidence in the history of cruise ship fires. You can see some photographs in our article "Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires – Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?"    

Carnival Cruise Ship Fire - Ecstasy

Carnival Cruise Ship Fires - Ecstasy

Carnival ecstasy Cruise Ship Fire

Photo Credit:

Photos nos 2, 3: Business Insider / Reuters

Photo no. 4:



  • Lukas Warren

    I’m looking at going on one of your ‘boats’ and I would love some more information about this fire before I book.

  • Monique Stevens

    I just a few hours ago got off a 5 day cruise on The Ecstasy, and will book this same cruise again for next year.
    Things like this fire happen, I researched this ship before booking, gave her a chance even after learning of the incident, and had an absolutely wonderful experience aboard her.

  • Andy Smith

    I was on this ship when this fire happened. My wife and I were supposed to get married at a stop on the Florida Keys, but never made it. Our cabin was right above the first S in Ecstasy. We were among, if not the first to alert other people of the fire, it was a truly terrifying experience! I know thousands of people go on cruises every year, but we will never be on one of them.

  • L. Bowling

    Mr. Walker,
    I was Commanding Officer at the US Coast Guard Marine Safety Office in Miami when Carnival Ecstasy fire happened in July 1998. I was very mush involved in the fire investigation. Your dramatic comment that the ship would have “burned down to the hull” had the fire occurred offshore is wrong and shows that you know very little about the design of these ships. The fire basically burned out (no more “fuel” left – the mooring lines burnt up). The inside vertically aligned fire screen doors worked perfectly as designed, and completely contained the fire to the aft portion of the ship – as evidenced by the side photos of the ship. Alarming incident for sure, but the ship was never in floundering extremis.

  • Commander Bowling:

    Thanks for your comments but your efforts to downplay the fire on the Ecstasy are transparent.

    Your comments are also inconsistent with the NTBS findings which characterized the incident as involving a “major conflagration” – see:

    Your negative attitude seems to be consistent with the cozy relationship between the Coast Guard and the cruise industry. The best examples I suppose may be the engine room fires on the Carnival Splendor and Carnival Triumph which caught fire just a day or two after so-called “rigorous” Coast Guard inspections where the Coast Guard looked past the obvious safety hazards for its cruise ship buddies . . . .

    Thousands of souls (both crew and passengers) were risked because of a lack of maintenance by Carnival and poor inspections and indifferrence by the Coast Guard.

    Yes, our USGC does a great job medevacing passengers from cruise ships but it doesn’t have the resources or the interest in critically inspecting cruise ships for safety issues.

  • Jo-Anna (Brown) Marsicano

    I was on this ship when it caught on fire. No AC, no gyroscopes, no food, nothing…AND NOT ENOUGH LIFE BOATS!!! Scary….