On Tuesday, a Finnish cruise passenger, who had been placed in a holding cell for his unruly / intoxicated behavior, “tried to light his underwear on fire,” according to a newspaper in Finland.

It appears that the drunken guest was successful in starting the fire because a “smoke detector was activated by the burning undergarment” and crew members reportedly “put out the flames with a fire extinguisher.”

How the cruise passenger was able to access a match in the holding facility remains a mystery. Nonetheless,  the cruise line’s manager of safety was quoted in the newspaper as saying that “on the whole, though, we won’t have to take too many measures beyond our regular  procedures.”

The incident reportedly took place on Viking Line’s Cinderella cruise ship.

The brief fire (pun intended) sent three crew members who inhaled smoke to a shore-side hospital. The crew members subsequently returned to the ship unharmed.

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Photo credit: Peterkz – CC by 4.0, commons / wikimedia.

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

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

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.

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

Royal Caribbean Cruise PRPR News recently published an interesting article about how Royal Caribbean Cruises successfully handled its public relations image during the 2013 fire aboard the Grandeur of the Seas. Titled How Royal Caribbean Controls the Message During a Crisis, the article explains how the cruise line effectively controlled the narrative when the Grandeur caught on fire while cruising to Nassau.

PR Success: Immediately after the fire, Royal Caribbean quickly flew its president and a professional photographer to the port and tweeted photos of the cruise CEO interacting with guests "so that journalists would use those photos instead of a guest’s."

I mentioned this effective PR move in an article which I posted shortly after the fire titled Where Are Photo & Video Images of the Fire on the Grandeur of the Seas?  I commented on Royal Caribbean’s new and improved PR efforts, but pointed out that the cruise line released more photos of the cruise CEO having tea with passengers after the fire than of the damage to the ship. 

A video report by ABC News helped to explain why there were no videos or photographs because the cruise ship’s crew stopped passengers from taking images of the fire and chaos. Passenger Carrie royal Caribbean Cruise PRMcTigue told ABC News that "even when people put their cameras up to photograph the sunrise, they were told, ‘no photos.’"

PR Disasters: But Royal Caribbean has not always been able to control the images shown to the public when its cruise ships catch on fire. In July 2015, 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 asked a former client who lives near the port to video the fire. He videotaped the ship coming into port, billowing a huge amount of smoke. We immediately posted the video, on our Facebook page, which was viewed by over a million people within two days. We also posted the video on this blog with 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.

Royal Caribbean also caused a public uproar after it sailed the Anthem of the Seas into a well publicized storm last year. Royal Caribbean’s PR people tried to say that the storm was "unforeseeable" but weather professionals didn’t buy it. They ripped the cruise line for routing the cruise ship directly into the storm. Read the Washington Post’s 4,000-passenger cruise ship inexplicably sails into Atlantic mega-storm. Weather experts accurately predicted the Atlantic seas out of New Jersey to be over 30 feet high with winds of hurricane strength, but the Anthem nonetheless recklessly sailed into theRoyal Caribbean Cruise PR storm, terrorizing thousands of passengers and burning out the clutches of its azipods in the process. The Anthem returned to port in New Jersey with only one propulsion unit operating.

Royal Caribbean initially denied any damage or injury to the ship or the passengers and then falsely claimed that the only damage to the ship was "cosmetic." Al Roker, the popular television weatherman on the Today Show, best summed up Royal Caribbean’s claim that the storm was not predicted: "Royal Caribbean’s claim that this was not predicted is bullfeathers."  USA TODAY chimed in with "Meteorologists: Royal Caribbean blew it on sailing into storm."

Practice Makes Perfect?  The director of the cruise line’s corporate communications, Cynthia Martinez, was quoted in the PR article as saying that that the company often "practices roundtable discussions of how to handle an issue, and sometimes they practice writing tweets and press releases for specific situations." So the next time that a Royal Caribbean ship catches on fire or sails into a storm, remember that what you may be seeing from this cruise line is what it wants you to believe rather than the reality of what actually occurred or – as Al Roker said – "bullfeathers."

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

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.

Costa Magica FireToday we received a message from a passenger is sailing on the Costa Magica with family. The passenger indicated that a fire broke out on the Costa cruise ship yesterday, February 24th, while the cruise ship was heading toward Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe which is in the eastern Caribbean between St. Kitts and Antigua & Barbuda to the north and Dominica to the south. 

The passenger, who wishes to remain anonymous, indicated that the fire started early in the morning/ late at night (around 1:30 A.M.), apparently in the engine room. 

The passenger stated that the passengers were timely informed that a fire broke out but there was confusing announcements regarding the location of the fire.

There was first an announcement regarding an emergency on deck A. Later, there was an announcement regarding an emergency in the luggage area on deck 0. Finally, there was an announcement of an emergency in the engine room, according to the passenger.  

We are trying to obtain further details regarding this reported incident, regarding the cause of the fire and the length of the time before the fire was extinguished. There is no indication that the ship was disabled nor any information suggesting that there were any injuries to passenger or crew members. 

If you are working or sailing on the Magica and have information to share, we would like to hear from you.

Please leave a comment below or join the discussion on our Facebook page.  If you wish to remain anonymous, please contact me via email at jim@cruiselaw.com. 

Update: After publishing this article, a reader brought to my attention that a report of a fire on this ship was posted (in German) via Facebook: "Just got the information of a fire onboard Costa Magica – are you sure Costa has everything under control??" (translated). Costa was asked to respond and said via Facebook: "it should be on board, so is the safety of our guests and the crew at the top. You can be assured that costa all action, if it is necessary. If you have any further questions, please send us a pm. Thank you very much and greetings, your costa team."  (translated) The person posting the comment then asked Costa: "So does this mean that it is untrue that it yesterday (in the engine room? ) has burned?" (translated). Costa has not responded to this inquiry. 

February 26, 2017 Update:  "Additional information from the reporting passenger: "it lasted at least 90 minutes. No smoke could be seen from our point of view. Fire doors near the cabins weren’t closed, ventilation wasn’t stop either. The ship seemed to have slowed down during the intervention.

 . . .  the ship bilingual staff made statements in different language. The Capt could only speaks italian on the PR system.

The crew were not close to us to inform us. From my cabin I could see a few crew members stand-by at a lifeboat.

Quickly after the annoncement that the fire was exthinguished, a medical team was required at muster station E. We had no news afterward on what happen there."

February 27, 2017 Update: Costa confirmed today that a fire broke out on the Magica, but claims that it was "small" and "quickly extinguished." No explanation was provided regarding the cause of the fire or the specific steps taken by the fire crew to extinguish it . . .

March 1, 2017 UpdateCosta Magica Fire: Did Costa Cruises Learn Anything from the Costa Concordia?

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