A fire broke out this morning on the Carnival Freedom while the cruise ship was in Grand Turk. Fortunately, there are no injuries reported so far.

A large number of cruise guests posted images on Twitter of what appears to be a fire coming from inside the ship’s funnel. There is one popular blog that claims passengers were summoned to their muster stations and donned life jackets, and if true I wonder why they would be doing this given the fact that the ship was at port.  I also see lots of guests standing around taking videos including some guests who remained in the swiming pool.

Martime expert Bill Doherty posted on Facebook these comments: “Why wasn’t General Alarm for FIRE sounded and passengers and crew mustered, accounted for and non- essential persons, immediately evacuated???”

FOX35 Orlando published photos and video courtesy of cruise passenger Ricky Ruble (top). You can see many dozens of photographs and video of the large fire on Twitter.

Crew members from the Carnival Freedom, as well as from another Carnival cruise ship, the Mardi Gras, which was docked next to the burning ship, used hoses to extinquish the fire.

Carnival Cruise Line issued a PR statement, saying: “Carnival Freedom‘s emergency response team quickly activated and extinguished a fire inside the ship’s funnel while the ship was in Grand Turk. All guests and crew are safe, and the ship’s guests were cleared by local authorities to go ashore. We continue to assess the situation.”

There is no word yet from Carnival whether it will promptly fly its customers back to Florida and issue a full refund.

The ship should not be permitted to sail until there has been a full inspection by the vessel’s classification society with a conclusion that the ship is seaworthy and fit to sail back to Florida.  The incident is reminiscent of a similar fire on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas in July of 2015 when the ship was about to dock in Jamaica.You can see a video of that ship fire here.

In that case, neither the flag state nor the classification society nor the vessel’s underwriters nor the U.S. Coast Guard conducted a survey of the damage before the ship continued its cruise and no one began to conduct an investigation into the root cause of the fire.  As we wrote soon after the fire, Royal Caribbean had hired a engineering group in install a scrubber system which involved extensive welding operations while the ship was underway, rather than conduct such dangerous work during a dry dock.

Let’s see whether Carnival mishandles the situation like Royal Caribbean did.

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Image credit: Top – Fire on Carnival Freedom – Credit Ricky Ruble via FOX 25 Orlando; fire on the Carnival Freedom – Chuck Linder via @WPBF25News and @seaandcoast1; fire on the Freedom of the SeasRaymond Bower (middle); fire extinquished on Carnival Freedom – M&M Adventures (below).