King 5 News in Seattle reports that the Holland America Line (HAL) Westerdam caught fire this evening as it was sailing to Alaska and was forced to turn around and return to Seattle.  The news station is saying that the fire broke out in the engine room.

HAL released the following statement:

"There has been a small fire in one of the boiler rooms onboard  MS Westerdam as she sailed from Seattle earlier this evening which was quickly extinguished. All guests and crew are safe. Out of an abundance of caution and in coordination with the United States Coast Guard the ship has returned to Seattle. The ship is fully operational and there has been no impact on guest services. It is HAL Westerdamanticipated that the ship will depart again once the assessments are completed and continue her voyage to Alaska." 

HAL’s statement does not explain exactly what caused the fire and omits the fact that after the fire was put out, it flared up again. Descriptive phrases like a "small" fire which was "quickly" extinguished can be misleading many times. 

The Westerdam is a 10 year old cruise ship and is owned by Carnival Corporation.

If you were on the ship and have information to share, please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

June 29th Update:  The Seattle Times reports that the cruise ship has left Seattle to continue its cruise. It also provided a little bit more detail regarding the fire. Interesting, the automatic fire suppression did not extinguish the fire and the crew had to use hoses:

"The Westerdam left Seattle again around 10:15 a.m. Sunday, said Public Relations Vice President Sally Andrews.

Because of the delay, Holland America has revised the 7-day sailing schedule. Passengers will miss their visit to Sitka, but will be given a credit of $250 per room to use during the cruise.

Coast Guard petty officer George Degener told The Seattle Times the ship’s crew knocked the fire down, but a while later it restarted.

A combination of high-pressure mist and crew members with hoses extinguished the fire, Kyle Moore, spokesman for the Seattle Fire Department, told the paper. The city dispatched a fireboat, and a few units to the Pier 91 cruise terminal, as a precaution."

Neither the cruise line nor the Coast Guard have explained why the fire broke out.

June 30th Update: Why Did the Westerdam Catch on Fire? Does Anyone Care?


Photo Credit: Flickr – Don Shaw

  • Russ Britt

    We could have all of our booze free, but would miss Sitka…’cause the delay took it off the trip. While the weather wasn’t so great, the fire waited till we left! Whew!

  • Marine navigator

    A couple of things about this article:
    1) ‘forced to turn around’. The ship was turned around as a precaution, something the Captain should be commended for but a boiler fire woukd not ‘force’ him to make that decision, especially considering point 2.
    2) ‘small fire quickly extinguished’. Having spoken to someone onboard, thats not a misleading statement as the incident was indeed quickly dealt with. HAL have a full disclosure policy with incidents onboard meaning the Captain or if hes busy with the incident the Cruise Director give frequent updates to all onboard, good news or bad regardibg the progress of the incident so the guests onboard were aware its was over quickly
    3) Automatic suspression systems. Whilst these continue to get better and better, especially systems like ‘Hi-Fog’ that the Westerdam has installed throughout, fires in enclosed hot spaces such as boilers and incinerators can be tricky to extinguish due to the latent heat etc. Fire teams would always be deployed using hoses in these incidents so ensure the fire was indeed extinguised. Dont forget as a backup the Westerdam would also have CO2 smotheribg systems – Clearly the fire was minor enough not to have to use it. Again, because of the latent heat flareups are common in boiler/incinerator fires so I dont doubt they had fire teams in standby in anticipation of this.
    3) Reason of the fire. Having carried out many investigations of marine fires im well aware that the results of these investigations can take time to correctly identify and analyze the cause. It would be prudent for them to avoid making statements in the media based on initial thoughts and analysis -and besides, why MUST they inform everyone immediately? It can take weeks or even months for the results of such investigations to be distributed to other ships in a companies fleet let alone to members of the public eager to make a quick buck on the information

  • William Phillips

    To Marine navigator

    The fire restarted twice. The reason we were told for the return to dock was that the US Coast Guard wanted to inspect the fire damage. We also had to wait for (parts ?) That were brought on to replace something damaged. There were other things going on that haven’t been mentioned.
    HAL did a good job taking care of the passengers. One scary thing happen, once our families started telling us we made the news. If you google Westerdam fire it can bring up the 2004 fire in dock and that looked scary until we figured out the date was ten years ago. All in all, a good cruise but, disappointed we missed Sitka. Lots of whales, bears and such.