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.

Update:

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:”

Carnival SensationThe Jamaica Observer reported yesterday that three U.S. citizens did not return to the Carnival Sensation which docked in Ocho Rios, St, Ann on Wednesday. The newspaper identified them as Glen Triston, age 35, Tricia Tahecia Forrester, age 24, both of New York, and Clinton Hill, age 42, of North Carolina.

Reports are that all three passengers disembarked the Carnival cruise ship at approximately 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday morning with baggage which reportedly contained items for family members in Jamaica.

Loop Jamaica reports that the police in Jamaica "launched a massive search" for the three U.S. nationals. Comments to the article speculate that they may have met with foul play after departing the cruise ship, although there is no indication of this in the local newspapers. 

Last month, a state of emergency was declared in St. James Parish, Jamaica due to extensive violence and crime there, with the United States warning U.S. citizens to exercise extreme caution while traveling to the popular destination of Montego Bay. St. James Parish covers Montego Bay, which has a cruise port and is a short drive away from the cruise ports in Falmouth and Ocho Rios. 

Over the last six years, there have been eleven cruise ship passengers who have temporarily "gone missing" in Jamaica, including these latest three people this week. The last eight cruise tourists have all later returned to the port where they disembarked or were later found (and, sometimes, arrested) in Jamaica. 

In July 2012, three passengers of one family from the Carnival Freedom went missing for a short while in Jamaica after disembarking the cruise ship in Ocho Rios.

In August 2012, a fifty year old U.S. citizen from the Carnival Freedom disappeared for a period of time after disembarking in Ocho Rios.

In January 2015, two U.S. passenger went missing after leaving the Carnival Victory in Falmouth Jamaica.

In April 2016, two U.S. passengers from Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas were reported missing after the cruise ship docked in Falmouth Jamaica.

All eight of these passengers eventually showed up or were located by the police in Jamaica. They all voluntarily over-stayed their legal status. It is against both Jamaican and U.S. law to fail to return to a cruise ship in the middle of a cruise.

As I mentioned before, Jamaica seems to be a favorite place for cruise passengers to "get lost" and later show up after what appears to be an extended vacation. Let’s hope that is true with these latest passengers.

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March 3, 2018 Update: Contact made with two of the three missing US nationals.

Photo credit: WikiEK at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.

Yesterday the United States Coast Guard rescued a 71 year old man from the Carnival Sensation

A MH-65 Dolphin Coast Guard helicopter from responded to a call from the Carnival Sensation and medevaced the passenger while the cruise ship was approximately 22 miles east of Palm Beach.

The Coast Guard flight crew lifted the man off the ship and the helicopter took the man to Broward General Hospital.

A Coast Guard news release said the passenger suffered a stroke. 

Video Credit: U.S. Coast Guard  / Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System.