The captain of the Freedom of the Seas, Captain Ron Holmes, I am told by crew members is a good man. He is well liked and respected by the crew, from what the shipboard employees tell me.

After the fire, Captain Holmes, via a closed circuit television loop, explains to the passengers what just happened. He is obviously not reading from a script.

Captain Holmes says that the fire erupted from what he describes as the engine spaces. It spread, he says, from the bottom of the ship to the top, above the Viking Crown lounge via an exhaust stack through the ship. He says that the crew had to fight the fire in what he says are "multiple parts" of the ship. He says that due to the sparks and hot spots, it took around an hour to completely extinguish the fire.

He appears to be forthcoming and honest to me.       

His video is in stark contrast to the information which Royal Caribbean disclosed to the media and the misleading letter which the cruise line CEO Bayley sent to the crew members. The PR department and cruise executive said that the fire was allegedly "small" and contained in the ship’s mechanical spaces, which are obviously untrue.   

Royal Caribbean can’t seem to help itself. Its shore-side PR team was so quick to spin the story that it directly contradicted what the good captain was telling the passengers. Captain Holmes makes an earnest appearance, in my assessment. The cruise line’s PR department should have just uploaded the captain’s brief explanation to YouTube, rather than try and bamboozle the public. This is a cruise line which lies when the truth would do it better.  

 Video Credit: Michael Alden

  • Sylvia

    Captain Holmes, I would like to thank you for telling the truth. I was not on the ship, but had I heard you speak, I know I wouldn’t have been worried. It’s unfortunate that things happen and it happens to all of cruise lines at some point or another.

    However, the statement put out by RC and it’s PR department was just a “cover our ass” statement and nothing else.

    I’m not quite sure why the “Powers that be” tend to think that their passengers are imbeciles! Or that people who read their statement are in the same category as the passengers.

    Had RC posted the video of Captain Holmes, after the passengers and crew became aware of the fire, it would have been a wonderful way of letting the outside world know about the fire. The truth is 100% better than a bunch of lies which the majority of people see through.

    Thank you Jim Walker for posting the video. To RC – get your act together and start being truthful when things go wrong – after all it’s very hard these days to “fib” because of the technological world that we all live in today!

  • edith

    Capt.Ron Homes s a great guy..He is the best captain i’ve worked with..Honest man..sincere to crew and his words..He is very fair to the crew..and he is like your father..he will always give u a parental friendly advise…he is a hardworking man..you can see him walking around the ship even during nap hours from 1pm onwards…salute to this guy..God bless capt.Ron

  • Jen

    He certainly seems to be sincere, I would certainly put my trust in him (and will next year if he is still captain on FOS). I wish the rest of Royal Caribbean would take a leaf out of his book.

  • Amanda

    I was on the ship and I have to agree with the comments regarding the captain he did come across as genuine
    However as a passenger I would have liked to hear/read a post fire update and perhaps some official notification/proof that the ship was totally fine to continue

    This would have settled a few natural nerves.

  • Peter

    Sorry to tarnish the captains record a bit. I also thought he was a very personable man and don’t want to discredit him however.

    I was on the ship that day and when I arrived in the muster area the captain came over the tannoy to state a fire had started in the engine room on deck 0 but it had been put out by “the worlds best extinguishing system”. We were then kept on board for 3 hours whilst they allegedly looked for 3 passengers. I heard later unofficially during the cruise that the missing passengers were found in about 18 mins and the other 2.5 hours were to allow them to put the fire out completely, allow the smoke to disappear and clean up before the passengers could see the smoke/fire/mess. There was no mention during this time of the fire ongoing elsewhere. I feel our lives were at risk during this 3 hour period and we should have been evacuated immediately as we were already docked in port.

    I do feel sorry for the captain he must have been under extreme pressure working for Royal Caribbean and having to balance commercial interests and safety at the same time.

  • merlindog

    I don’t think Captain Holmes told the entire truth by a long way. I think he was told to hush things up somewhat by head office. 3 hours is a hell of a long time to keep people on deck if the fire was out.

  • Keeley

    I was on the ship and watched the captain’s video. I also spoke with multiple crew members. I thought the captain was being as truthful as possible without adding additional fear. I don’t think he lied, but just that he didn’t give all of the details. He did say, while we were at our muster stations, that they were going to let us in to a select few public spaces so they could clean a bit and bring up all of the systems (bathrooms still didn’t work for a little while though). I do wish the corporate offices wouldn’t try to spin so much, but I felt that the crew, at least those that I encountered during the issue, we’re professional, helpful and prepared. Yet I saw plenty of passengers who were irritable, and acted as though the cruise line did this on purpose (sorry, they only had cheese pizza available, they were doing their best in an emergency!). Your experiences are largely based on your attitude. As a passenger it’s important to have a healthy dose of skepticism and awareness of your surroundings, but make sure you don’t take it overboard.

  • Joe Hettel

    I was on the ship from 14 June to 21 June, 2015. While on that cruise I noticed some work being done on the rear of the ship at the smokestacks. Being a retired Boilermaker I watched and saw that some workers, not crew members, were installing a new stainless steel stack in the stack area, and that area was closed off. Going in the entrance in that area you came to a plywood wall separating the work area from the passenger area, I could see chainfalls and also occasionally workers, I also saw welding going on up in the stack. The work was being performed on the port side of the ship. Seeing some of the video’s posted of the fire on UTube I at once realized that this fire was on the port side of the ship in the exact same area that work was being performed. In one of the video’s on YouTube you can even see flames. There is no doubt in my mind that this fire was caused by the construction work being performed in that area, it is too much of a coincidence that work was being performed in the exact same area as the fire three weeks later. One other point, in one of the video’s you can see a worker later in the video walking toward the after part of the ship, this worker is wearing coveralls with a large company patch on the back of the coveralls, same dress that the workers were wearing on my cruise. The fire was caused by construction work being performed while underway, no doubt.

  • Linda Guay

    My family of 14 were on the ship and we thought everything went smoothly…and the crew took care of us very well…my husband and I are Diamond Plus and first time something like this happened…very satisfied customer on how well things went…

  • Benjamin

    I just got home from a cruise on the Freedom of the Seas. The chapel is still closed and there is some fire damage visible around there if you look very carefully (sorry, I should have taken a picture). The sum total of the impact on me was the prayer group had to meet in Cloud Nine instead of the chapel, which was annoying because I was having a private conversation there when they showed up.

  • Ivelin Mutafchiev

    Captain Ron Holmes is the best Captain that I ever sail with! My respect and gratitude for the knowledge’s that I have received from my mentor Captain Ron Holmes!

    Bridge Officer Ivelin Mutafchiev

  • Mark W. Noonan

    I served in the US Navy. Fires onboard Ship happen. No matter what safeties are in place. FIRES DO AND WILL HAPPEN. Remember the Captain of any Vessel, Cruise Lines in particular, has two priorities. The Safety of his Ship Passangers and Crew. That includes not causing unnecessary fear. They don’t like. They just don’t give you the full details.