A fire broke out on the Carnival Sensation as the Carnival cruise ship was returning to Miami at the end of a short cruise to the Western Caribbean. The cruise ship left Miami, Florida on February 7th to Key West and was scheduled to call on Cozumel, Mexico and then return to Miami today.

The Sensation was on the last night of a four day cruise to the Western Caribbean when the fire reportedly started around 3:00 a.m on the last night, according to a passenger who wishes to remain anonymous. She stated that the fire occurred on deck 6 aft.  Another passenger posted the following information and a photo of the aftermath of the fire on her Twitter account:

A producer at CNN was aboard the ship and took photographs and posted information about the fire on her Twitter page. Cruise guests donned life vests and crew members appeared wearing fire gear. Deck six reportedly smelled of smoke and fans were used to try and blow the smoke away:

She also commented that when the Sensation was heading from Key West toward Cozumel, a crew member was medevaced (on February 9th), requiring the ship to head back toward Key West. The passengers missed port in Cozumel.

Another cruise passenger commented on the smoke “so thick you could not see:”

Carnival responded to the tweets by denying that there was a fire and calling the incident a “smoke event.”

There have been other instances where cruise passengers reported that a fire occurred during a cruise which Carnival denied.  I call this the “smoke but no fire” excuse.

In March of 2016, there was a significant fire on the Carnival Splendor which disabled the ship. Carnival characterized the incident as involving “only-smoke-but-no-fire.” The Splendor had to be towed back to port after the fire. The final Coast Guard report stated that the fire burned for over nine hours before it was finally extinguished.

We have heard Carnival characterize the fires as “smoke events” before, like a fire on the Carnival Pride in 2015.  Carnival even tried to convince the passengers after a fire broke out on the Splendor that what they smelled was just a “flameless fire.” You can hear “there’s-smoke-but-no-flames-or-fire” characterization on this announcement recorded on this YouTube video of the Splendor fire which disabled the ship.

Carnival released the following statement after this latest fire or, as Carnival calls it, the “smoke event:”

“Carnival Sensation reported a smoke event early Monday morning while the ship was on its way back to its homeport of Miami and the conclusion of a five-day journey.  Smoke was coming from a housekeeping storage area on Deck 6, but when first responders arrived, they confirmed there was no fire.  Guests were alerted by public announcements and some guests near the source of the smoke were asked to evacuate their staterooms.  Both the captain and the cruise director made subsequent public announcements to update guests. Some guests waited in public areas and we provided refreshments; others returned to their staterooms once they were notified that the situation was under control.  Guests are now disembarking in a routine manner and the ship’s next sail, another five-day cruise, is scheduled to depart as planned Monday afternoon.”

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Photo credit: Top – Amanda Jackson via Twitter.


After I published this article, cruise passenger Amanda Jackson posted on Twitter an audio recording of the Cruise Director repeatedly referring to the “fire” (the “fire is under control,” etc.). Cruise passengers also recall being awoken by an announcement where Carnival stated that there was a fire multiple times.

Another Carnival passenger on the cruise ship also posted about the fire on Twitter after we published this article. She commented “the smoke was so thick that I couldn’t see/breathe:”

  • Debbie’pist

    Yes they said fire numerous Times.Carnival is blowing smoke at us. I was on deck six in the middle of the chaos. Everybody needs to call carnival and register a complaint.there was no direction. Elderly or disabled passengers were not being assisted up the stairs. The whole situation was not handled properly or professionally. Very disappointing!

  • Kenneth Collier

    It was a very horrifying

  • Samantha miata

    We were on deck 6 – odds across the hall. We were scared to death. We had two little kids 2&3 – thank god for the other passengers who took the time to bang on our door to wake us up. If not for them, I don’t know what would’ve happened. It was a fire. It was terrifying. There was thick black smoke. Carnival should be ashamed for lying!

  • Ellen Morris

    I was also on the ship. It was a disastrous experience from start to finish. First, we were assigned a cabin that reeked of sewage, the sink didn’t drain, the toilet was clogged, the shower leaked through the walls and flooded the floor in the cabin (there was clearly a moldy smell, so the leaking shower was obviously a long standing issue), the faucet & shower both had brown nasty smelling water coming out. We were told this was “ok, and would be sanitized” that never happened. They stuck blowers in the room to “fix” the problem. That did nothing but blow smelly air around the room. Than we were told we would not be going to Cozumel because the ship had to turn around so that a crew member could be “airlifted by the coast guard”. This wasn’t my first rodeo and that was a blatant lie, not to mention the ethics, or lack there of, in implicating the U.S. Coast Guard to deceive passengers. At that point we ended up in Nassau, not a comparable port of call by any measure. To top it off we had the 3am fire which Carnival is now calling a “smoke event” … again how stupid do they think we, as passengers, are? I was one deck below the fire and woke up to the smell of an active fire, that was so strong it was difficult to breath. We immediately vacated our cabin & found all fire doors closed and smoke in the halls. It was incredibly frightening. There was no fire alarm, no warning, no guidance from the caption or crew until it was clear that chaos was ensueing. At that point the announcements about the fire being “under control” started. I had to get past fully dressed fireman & crew members wearing N-95 masks to get to the outside deck. It hardly seemed “under control”. On deck there were many other passengers with their life preservers. I could go on and on. This was diplorable and showed a complete disdain for our lives and safety. Carnival should be ashamed of themselves, although I am sure they are not.

  • Katrina Turner

    #carnivalsensation This was by far the worst cruise I’ve ever been to. The whole experience went from bad to worst. First, my room had mole on bathroom ceiling and steaming hot water coming out of sink; guest services was extremely rude. I was advised to brush my teeth in shower because they didn’t have another room available. Then, they changed itinerary without notice because they claimed an crew member medical emergency and had to conduct a helicopter evacuation with coast guard. Over 500 people on cruise and no one seen or heard helicopter. I paid for a cruise to go to Mexico and ended up in Bahamas; which is way cheaper then what I paid for. Informed by customer service that they will not accommodate me. The icing on the cake was the fire on the 6 floor and tried to cover it up!! No fire alarm was sounded. I was in fear for my life. What a waste of money! CarnivalCruise doesn’t care for their customers. They ruined my birthday cruise!!! I honestly never want to sail again !

    • Annette

      What cabin were you in? I sail on that ship next week.

    • Sue

      1). I agree with the disgusting smells from the room and the bathroom. All I can say is the mold and urine smells was disgusting.
      2). They claimed they had to return to key west for a heli med vac Although there was no helicopter seen or heard. They could have made it back to Cozumel even if that meant arriving a little bit later as the ship was reserved to stay till 10pm that night! Instead they choose to go to lousy Bahamas where there is absolutely NOTHING to do there. The docking in Bahamas was roughly 5 hours long which in itself was just another rip-off.
      3). The Fun Day at sea was switched from Saturday to Sunday (due to the diversion with no reschedule in activities resulting in NO entertaining shows.
      4). Customer service Romanian female = EXTREMELY RUDE.!!
      5). Food was below the usual mediocre cruise ship standard with no fresh fruit other than spotted bananas.
      6). Last night on the ship LOUD construction or repair was occurring at 11pm above our room!!! REALLY WTF???
      8.). As a Gold member I expect my gold pin with the year on it. This year first sailing NO YEAR !!! It’s even written on the paper commerayove pin with the year you sailed. Talk about cutting corners …BS!!
      Yup worst cruise ever!!! I’ll remember this birthday all right. 🤬😱😡😖. When I got bank I cancelled my October cruise. I’m done cruising for a while. YUK!!!!

  • Samantha miata

    All of these comments are exactly correct! We went on this cruise for my fiancé birthday! It was terrible. Worst cruise ever!

  • JP

    We experienced it all as well staying on floor 6. We were woke up by other guests pounding on doors and yelling fire. The hallway was full of smoke. While our family was waiting it out by the pool another family said they were on floor 4 and had septic backup into their room and they were waiting on their room to be cleaned. Other gossip the next day was that it was a pump that was smoking which could explain the sewer backup but I cannot confirm that. Our room did not smell like smoke when we returned but the hallway was pretty bad. Could be worse, at least my room wasn’t flooded with poo water like those poor people.