There is an interesting post on the message board at Cruise Critic, indicating that a fire broke out in the incinerator room of the HAL Noordam around 3 A.M. on August 25th.

The fire reportedly was extinguished it seems after a hour, more or less.

The cruise passenger indicated that the captain of the ship made several announcements and tried to keep everyone calm.

NoordamThe passenger also said that he saw others walking/running wearing life jackets. Some people stayed in their cabin and other passengers went to the life boats. He and his family seemed scared and upset.

What struck me about the responses to his post is that a fair amount of people mocked him, accusing him of complaining about such a "minor" event, "just because you lost some sleep?"

What also struck me was that so many other passengers told stories that they too had experienced small fires or incinerator fires or electrical fires on other cruises.

The posters mentioned fires aboard the Carnival-owned Rotterdam, Westerdam, Volendam, and Zuiderdam.  I wasn’t aware of some of these fires.

One cruiser commented:

"We have been on three cruises in the past four years where there was a fire alarm. Twice it was in the incinerator room and the other time, an electrical short in the Lido. The last alert was I believe in May on the Zuiderdam, as we were woken up about 4 AM.

It has become a common occurrence for us on our Alaska sailings."

The majority of those commenting seemed rather blase’ about the danger of fire at sea. They fluffed off the incident as another example of "ship happens."

I think that all passengers deserve a detailed explanation regarding the cause of the fire. The passengers are entitled to an explanation regarding the efforts taken to extinguish the fire together with a time table regarding the responsive steps and the announcements to the passengers and crew.

There is a tendency of the cruise industry not to disclose incidents like this. The cruise lines always claim that fires are "rare" but they never release evidence of incidents like this.  

There should be a database available to the public detailing these type of incidents. No one should ever be made fun of for talking about such a potentially dangerous and deadly incident. 


Photo Credit: Wikipedia / MilkoholicBear

  • flippinburgers

    maybe they will disclose the incident in Monrovia Weekly or Panama Herald. or Carnival Fun Times. anyway, their port authorities are working hard to determine cause of fire and eventual responsibility, no need for panic.

  • Col. Klink

    The cruise lines kinda remind me of Sgt. Schultz from “Hogan’s Heroes”. “I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!” Fire, what fire?

  • Stir Fry

    Amazing that people still board these hideous and dangerous monstrosities.

    Do they not do their research before traveling? They must believe the TV and Internet ads and what their travel agent tells them.


    While fires at sea are not that common, they do occur, and it is the most dangerous aspect of sea life. However, most fires are small and are contained by trained crew and a (according to our experience) a very good response team. Crew, generally on today’s cruise ships, amount over 1000) are trained to avoid, immediately respond and put off fires. We, the crew who lived (or live) at sea, in those “monstrosities” like a commenter calls them, are trained to put off all types of fires from the week we come onboard, if not before. Like in any small town (and these monstrosities are small towns in terms of how people behave (and by people, passengers are included too, some who smoke in bed and balconies, who leave hot irons on top of papers on the vanity and leave their cabin, who burn carpets and bed spreads, etc). Accidents do happen, machines do heat up, deep friers might catch fire, a engine room might have a fire, etc. etc. A cruise ship is a floating resort, a “monster” with lots of fuel and electricity and thousands of people behaving in unsuspecting ways. But also a lot of rules and safety measures, and regulations that constantly train, inspect, enforce and audit, safety aspects. Fire prevention included. Anyone who has worked onboard knows this and I would assume is very serious about what fire at sea can mean. After all, we all live or lived for months at a time onboard, so this is our home we protect. We have been on fires onboard, big one and small ones, we always respond to do our best and put it off. We do not think it is part of the cruise routine to announce to passengers a fire that just took place behind the scenes if no one was affected by it. Why? So many operational aspects take place behind the scenes, that passengers have no clue about, and shouldn’t, if this is supposed to be a fun vacation. It is not a boot camp. Now, the moment something affects in any way, the safety of passengers and crew, and ship, then yes. These are announcements that Captains do not hesitate to make, some better than others. (That’s because Captains are not trained to speak to people, and some are really horrible at providing info over the loudspeakers, while others talk a lot but with very hard accents and terrible pronunciation, making it even worse for anyone who cannot hear or understand them well) Someone comments that fires have to go reported over the PA system. How enjoyable would it be for any passenger sunbathing out on deck or sleeping at 4 am to be woken up by an announcement saying we’ve just had a brief fire on one of the deep friers in the main galley which was put off immediately with the corresponding blanket, congratulations so and so from such and such a country, for acting exactly like he/she was trained for? Would that add anything to the cruise or the night’s sleep? Or would that plant an unnecessary worry into people’s heads and maybe risk some over reactive passengers who will want their money back and demand to be disembarked in the next port with all expenses paid for back to their country, as they feel unsafe? Hmmm. We wonder. Announcing fires and accidents and any other similar matter that doesn’t add to the bananaramamamma-limbo-party-all-you-can-eat-fun-entertainment-port-hopping-shopping-cruise experience, is not a good idea for obvious reasons. All fires, all accidents, all security issues are (should be) logged, and these logs kept by the cruise line. We are not sure if fires are required to be reported to the jurisdictional waters Coast Guard. But in any case, there could be a report published periodically listing all fires on cruise ships, small, medium and large. Just like the CDC publishes ship Public Health inspections with all details. Then again….what percentage of passengers choose not to sail a cruise line based on their non existing environmental policies, their PH track record, their exploitation of crew or their yearly fire list? The answer is out there. Most will go for itinerary and price, so as long as the cruise lines do not feel the pressure and that pressure affect their pockets, things will continue to be as they are.

  • Former employee

    Garbage room/incinerator “fires” are super common–and in most cases, it’s only smoke that sets off the alarms, not an actual fire. This happened on the Maasdam in Dec 2013 and the Zaandam in March or April 2014. Neither were actually a big deal, but the deckies kept everyone informed and sounded the alarms out of an abundance of caution. And it makes sense that there might be excess smoke in a room used to burn garbage.