Three tears ago today,  the Freedom of the Seas caught on fire.

When we learned that the Freedom was on fire while heading to port in Falmouth, Jamaica, we called a former client who lives near the port (in Montego Bay) and asked him to video the fire. He videotaped the ship coming into port, billowing a huge amount of smoke. We immediately posted the video, here on our blog, which was viewed by over a million people on Facebook within two days. We also posted other images of the fire and the passengers mustering to prepare to abandon the fire-stricken ship.

So when Royal Caribbean tried to spin the story, with a misleading statement by its CEO that the fire was allegedly “small and quickly extinguished,” the public could make their own assessment regarding the size and ferocity of the fire. All of the major networks (ABC, CBS and NBC) carried the video on their news programs and the international media included the video on their multi-media presentations.

The public was left with the impression that the cruise line was either completely out-of-touch with the danger posed to its guests or that it deliberately fabricated a falsehood to masquerade as the truth, which I suggested in the Royal Caribbean “Small Fire” Hoax.

One crew member was seriously burned by the fire although no passengers were injured. The fire on the Royal Caribbean cruise ship occurred at a time when Carnival cruise ships, it seemed, were igniting on an all too frequent basis.

Passengers sent us copies of videos which they took of the large fire.

Neither the flag state nor the classification society nor the vessel’s underwriters not 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.

Read: Fire on the Freedom: The Show Must Go On.

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Photo Credit: Raymond Bower.

 

Caribbean Fantasy FireThe National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its findings yesterday regarding a fire on the Caribbean Fantasy cruise ferry, operated by Baja Ferries, near Puerto Rico in August of 2016. You can read the NTSB’s summary, proable cause findings, and recommendations regarding the fire here.

We reported on the fire at the time in our article Caribbean Fantasy Catches on Fire (with video).

The ferry was carrying 387 passengers and 124 crew members as well as cargo, trailers, shipping containers, trucks and cars.

The NTSB investigators found that the fire started when a pipe leaked fuel onto an engine’s exhaust manifold. The fire spread because fuel valves were bolted open. The fire quickly spread and overwhelmed the fire-suppression system (carbon-dioxide suppression and water-misting equipment) and then burned into the vehicle and cargo areas where cars burned and explosions occurred.

After an hour, the master ordered an evacuation which took 3 hours and 43 minutes, rather than the 30 as required under the international maritime standards.  

The ferry had just three life boats which could not accommodate all of the passengers and crew,  The remainder of those aboard had to slide down emergency chutes positioned above life-rafts (we have discussed these dangerous devices in prior articles like this and this).  Five passengers were serioudly injured due to the steep descent into the life-rafts. 

Investigators found that crew members had not been trained in removing pins to deploy the lifeboats. The crew was unable to release on of the lifeboats causing two passengers to fall into the water as other passengers panicked.

A NTSB investigator stated that if the accident had happened farther from port, in rougher seas or at night, “the result could have been catastrophic,” according to USA Today

As we reported back in 2016, between 2011 and 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard found at least 107 security deficiencies, of which 44 were related to the fire system used by the Caribbean Fantasy. The ferry reportedly had been detained three times in 2014, 2015 and 2016 because of failed inspections. 

Photographs of the fire, fire-fighting efforts and evacuation can be viewed on our Facebook page

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Photo credit: @pjpedrojuan/Twitter via ABC News, credit to the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Lally). Caribbean Fantasy Fire

 

Regal PrincessSeveral Princess Cruises passengers informed me that an incinerator fire occurred on the Regal Princess during the week of February 25th (two weeks ago). An alarm was sounded, and cruise passengers were later advised that the incinerator fire had been extinguished.

Incinerator fires are not uncommon, as we have reported before, but all cruise passengers should be fully informed of such fires and the efforts of the ship’s systems and crew to respond to the fires. 

We have reported on other fires on Princess cruise ships over the years, from minor fires around the ships to the deadly, wide-spread conflagration on the Star Princess (photo right) a dozen years ago which was caused by the tiniest of fires (a smoldering cigarette). Below are some of the Princess Cruises fires which have occurred in the last seven years. Most are "small" and "quickly extinguished" fires as the cruise industry likes to say when asked.  Most have not been mentioned in the media. 

Island Princess, Emerald Princess, Grand Princess, Crown Princess, Emerald Princess, Dawn Star Princess FirePrincess, Coral Princess, Crown Princess, and the Royal Princess

Cruise expert Professor Ross Klein testified before the U.S. Congress that there were over 60 cruise ship fires from 2009 through 2013. Most ship fires are not reported by the major media organizations.  

Have a thought? Please leave a message below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

We suggest reading: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires – Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

Photo credit: Scorcolano – CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Christy and Larry HammerFollowing the death of Christy and Larry Hammer who perished in 2016 aboard the La Estrella Amazonica (subsequently renamed as the Amazon Star) operated on the Peruvian Amazon by International Expeditions, the Hammers’ daughters have steadfastly sought answers and justice.

The sisters have found some of the former but not much of the latter. They told the Kansas City Star that they  "will do whatever we have to do to hold these guys accountable."

The Hammers were asleep in their cabin on the luxury cruise boat on the Amazon river, when a fire broke out in their cabin. International Expeditions, the owner / operator of the river cruise vessel, ignored basic safety regulations and procedures, according to an investigation conducted by the Peruvian Navy. The investigation reportedly revealed that that the deadly fire was caused by a short circuit in a power strip which International Expeditions provided to the Hammers to be used in their cabins.

Jill Malott and Kelly Lankford have stated that International Expeditions "systematically tried to road block us trying to find out answers."

Surveillance video from the boat posted by the sisters shows smoke billowing from their parents’ cabin as ill trained crew members walk up and down the hallway, delaying entry into the cabin. The boat was reportedly not equipped with a functioning alarm or fire suppression system. 

The sisters have teamed up with the grass roots cruise victims’ group International Cruise Victims (ICV) to adddress deficiences in the way that U.S. based cruise companies operate. 

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page. 

Read: How International Expeditions Tragically Failed My Family by Jill Hammer Malott.

Photo credit: Photo of Larry and Christy Hammer – Jill Hammer Malott and Kelly Hammer Lankford via ICV website. 

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AuroraA fire reportedly broke out in the engine room of the Aurora this morning, causing the P&O cruise ship to lose its electricity and its propulsion. 

The fire was extinguished after approximately an hour, following which emergency generators were eventually started.

At the time of the fire, the Aurora was in the mid-Atlantic sailing for the Azores. 

There has been no official statement from the cruise line; the details of the fire are admittedly sketchy. There are a few comments about the fire on the Cruise Critic message board

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September 21, 2017 Update: P&O Cruises released a statement: 

"Aurora suffered a temporary power failure yesterday which is being investigated. All guests and crew are safe and the ship immediately ran on back up generators. All services are running as normal on board.

Aurora is on a 30 night North America & Canada which departed Southampton on August 27, 2017 and is currently en route to the Azores. The ship is due to return to Southampton on September 26, 2017. The onward itinerary is unaffected."

Photo credit: MacdonaldAndy – CC BY 4.0; commons / wikimedia.

Amazon River CruiseA local news station reports on the continued efforts of the children of Christy and Larry Hammer to find out why their parents died in a fire aboard a luxury river cruise ship operated by Alabama-based International Expeditions. The article is entitled Sisters who lost parents in cruise ship tragedy say company is blocking them from getting answers.

The Hammers were asleep in their cabin on La Estrella Amazonica, on the Peruvian Amazon, when a fire broke out in their cabin. (After the deadly fire, International Expeditions re-named the cruise ship the Amazon Star.)

The Peruvian Navy investigated the fire and concluded that the owner of the river cruise ship ignored basic safety regulations. The Peruvian Navy concluded that the fire was caused by a short circuit in a power strip which International Expeditions provided to the Hammers to be used in their cabins. 

But this does not provide answers to why the Hammers were trapped and died in their cabin, and why they were not timely rescued as smoke billowed from their cabin.

The news station reports that a passenger on that same cruise said that the cabin doors locked from the inside and required a key to open – and even with a key were difficult to unlock.

Meanwhile, International Expeditions is continuing to keep the sisters in the dark. The news station reports that one of the daughters, Kelly Lankford, said that "They have systematically tried to road block us trying to find out answers.”

Peru fined the river boat $19,000. International Expeditions is appealing the fine.

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Read our other articles on this case for more information:

Cruise Operators Continue to Hide Behind the Death on the High Seas Act.

Deadly Amazon River Fire Update: International Expeditions’ La Estrella Amazonica.

Fire, Bandits Plague Amazon River Cruises in Peru.

Photo credit: People  

  

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A-Roda Cruise Ship FireA fire broke out on a Danube River cruise ship today. Around 190 passengers and crew members were evacuated, including eight people who were treated for smoke inhalation.

The fire reportedly broke out in the sauna area of the A-Rosa Riva cruise ship when the ship was west of Vienna, Austria, according to an Austrian newspaper.

150 passengers and 39 crew members were reportedly transferred to another river ship that dropped anchor nearby on the Danube. 

Helicopters reportedly flew the two most seriously injured crew members to hospitals. All of the injured are crew members who tried to extinguish the fire. 

The vessel is registered in Germany and is operated by the A-Rosa Cruises company. 

Photo Credit: nachrichten.at

A fire reportedly erupted in the engine room of the cruise ship MS Nordnorge yesterday (June 29th) when the vessel was docked at Trondheim, Norway, according to the Maritime Bulletin.

Crew members and city firefighters extinguished the fire. Three crew members were reportedly treated for smoke inhalation. The Nordnorge is a "ro-ro" ship (roll on – roll off type of cruise-ferry). The vessel reportedly did not sustain serious damages and departed from the port at Trondheim yesterday afternoon.

The Nordnorge was built in 1997, flies the flag of Norway, and is operated by Hurtigruten AS.

Credit: Clemensfranz – CC BY 2.5, commons / wikimedia.Nordnorge by Clemensfranz - CC BY 2.5, commons / wikimedia.

Princess Island PrincessA fire reportedly broke out yesterday aboard the Island Princess as it sailed in Alaska.

A Cruise Critic member posted information on the popular message board that the fire occurred due to leaking oil in the engine room, after the passengers on the cruise ship viewed the glaciers in Glacier Bay National Park.

The passenger commented:

This morning about 7:30 there was an emergency announcement for a fire in the deck 4 engine room. We were having breakfast in the Horizons buffet area. About 5 minutes later, the general emergency alarm was sounded and all crew were called to their emergency stations. They remained for about 30 minutes before being released. We were advised that the fire was struck pretty quickly and that we were in no danger. We continued a fantastic day in Glacier Bay NP.

Shortly after dropping the rangers, inspectors from coast guard boarded the ship as we sat still in the water. They were onboard for about 1 and a half hours and now we are continuing in.

The captain has done a great job keeping us informed of the situation. He advised the fire was due to a leaking oil pipe in the engine room. We have no indication that the itinerary will be altered in any way.

Interested in this issue? Read: Ten Years of Cruise Ship Fires – Has the Cruise Industry Learned Anything?

Have a thought? Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

Photo credit: CC0 wikipedia.

Costa Magica FireLast Friday night, around 1:30 A.M., a fire broke out in the engine room of the Costa Magica.

A passenger brought the event to my attention, indicating that there were several conflicting announcements from the cruise ship’s captain regarding where the fire broke out. The passenger indicated that the fire lasted over an hour.  

Shortly after I published an article about the fire, a reader brought to my attention that Costa had been asked on Facebook whether a fire broke out on the ship. Costa dodged the question.

We asked Costa and parent company Carnival Corporation for an explanation. We heard nothing from Costa, or from Carnival, but we did receive a comment on our Facebook page from an engineer inspector for Carnival in Genoa, Italy. He falsely claimed that there was "no fire" on the Costa ship.   

Costa finally responded to the inquiry on Facebook, belatedly claiming that the fire was allegedly "small" and "quickly extinguished" and, claiming further, that the safety of the passengers was never in question. It did not mention the cause of the fire or how long the fire crew had to battle the fire before extinguishing it.

Today, we received a message from a passenger who was on the Magica at the time of the fire, saying (translated):

"I am French and I confirm the fire on board because I was there as a passenger.

We suffered a fire on board (engine room) on Thursday 23/2 causing an alert in the middle of the night at sea. The crew on the launches were disorganized, stressed and did not answer the questions of the worried passengers . . . Like many passengers, we experienced this somewhat traumatic experience and the lack of subsequent communication was not reassuring.

Imagine: messages in Italian indicating throughout the boat and cabins that there is an alert in the middle of the night. You go out into the corridors and there everyone runs in all directions. You are asking questions to staff who already have their yellow lifejackets and they reply:

  • nothing and continue to run
  • getting back to your cabin is all right!

On deck 3 facing the rescue boats you observe the stressed faces of the crew and on the lookout for any information from the commander. After an hour the latter informs them that the situation is mastered . . . 

Costa Concordia LiesWhat is damaging is that in case of real alert, it is a little everyone for himself and the panic settles and is not at all controlled during and after the alert by COSTA.

I queried by mail COSTA on my return and to date no reply!"     

This account sounds like Costa’s response to the Costa Concordia disaster, when the ship’s officers delayed notifying Costa’s home office in Genoa, after the ship hit the rocks, and lied to the passengers onboard the ship about what was happening. When the ship was beginning to sink, many officers and managers misled the passengers and told them that "the situation is under control. Go back to your cabins . . ."

Thirty-two passengers and crew members died as a result of Costa’s negligence and lies.

That was over five years ago.  Has Costa learned anything since then?  

Have a comment?   Please leave one below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.

I suggest reading: Russel Rebello – The True Captain of the Costa Concordia.