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.

  • Eric Rappe’

    par for the course. Just proof that the fire was worse than they want to tell the world. They are content with having their employees go out in drones and talk about “how wonderful the crew was” instead of talking about what really happened, and why it took 2 hours to put it out. Sadly, most people out there only hear what they want to, and the “great crew” is enough for them. I am glad nobody was killed (this time) but it does not change the trend of fires on these ships.

  • Tim

    No photography during muster drills seems appropriate to me. What I would rather see at this point are pictures of the post fire damage on the interior of the ship. That would be enough information to judge the extent of the fire. I imagine it was quite a blaze if it took 2 hours to put out and encompassed 3 or 4 decks.

  • ken

    I was in one of the aft cabins with extended balcony. As I was preparing to leave our cabin, the Capt made a announcement that the fire was in the aft section of deck 3. Since we overlooked it, I opened the drapes to look through the glass slider. I was kind of shocked at the intensity of the fire – but at that time it appeared confined to the port side corner. I only had my cheap camera with me and thought about taking photo/video, but to go outside on the balcony would’ve put my life in danger. As it was, seconds after I began peering out, there was a loud explosion from down near the smoke and flames. I thought bomb – and we quickly got out of that cabin. Down at muster we were diverted to the casino since our station was near the fire. There, in the casino, I took quite a few photos, and took some out the porthole windows. No one ever told me not to take photos. All I know is that if I was outside on deck, and could have seen the fire – I would have been snapping away. No one has the right to tell you no photos, not in today’s connected world. Oh, I do have photos of my balcony – it was trashed by the soot, smut, burnt rope ashes, and the like – they covered the floor and the furniture. Cabin steward tried to clean floor but the soot was too fine. I cleaned the railing with a pool towel – it turned black, and even with cleaning you could see ash stuck/embedded into the railing’s varnish. Our cabin stunk of smoke until we left – all our clothes have that smoke odor, we’ll have to wash everything and dry clean some too (just not sure if RCI wii pay for my dry cleaning!).

    When I saw the actual damage, how it had spread from one corner to the entire deck, well I didn’t think as much of the fire crews as everyone else did. I thought they were supposed to have a team or two putting down fire suppression chemicals so the fire didn’t spread – it appears this did not happen. But the NTSB investigators will check that out. I also thought that these ships had recommendations after the Carnival Destiny mooring deck fire to place fire monitoring and suppression equipment on mooring decks that were like the Destiny’s – enclosed/part of the ship’s superstructure. Did RCI follow those recommendations or not? To have another mooring deck fire, a serious one on another cruise ship is unconciousable. I will be following this investigation – I especially want to know what caused that explosion!