Princess Cruise Ship
Fire Could Have Been A Disaster
By James Donahue
The Princess Cruise Ship
industry has been having a run of bad fortune this season. A few weeks before its new flagship, the Crown Princess almost
capsized at sea with over 3,000 passengers aboard, the Star Princess was swept by a serious fire that left one man dead and
11 other guests suffering from smoke inhalation.
The fire, believed to
have been started by a cigarette in one of the passenger cabins aboard the 109,000-ton ship at 3:10 a.m., caught most passengers
in their beds. It swept about 100 cabins and blackened a large portion of the superstructure amidship on the port side.
That the ship’s
crew was trained for fighting fire and responded with a professional skill can be credited for not only saving the ship, but
perhaps the lives of many of the other 2,690 passengers. Richard Liffidge, 75, of Georgia, died of heart failure, the
ship’s personnel said.
When the fire was discovered,
the alarm was sounded, everybody was roused from their beds and asked to report to assigned muster stations. This indicates
that the cruise line also is in the practice of instructing passengers what to do in the event of fire or some other emergency
The ship was traveling
from Grand Cayman to Montego Bay, Jamaica,
when the fire broke out.
Passengers told of smelling
smoke, some seeing flames, and fearing for their lives. But they said the captain talked to them over the ship’s intercom
and assured them that the fire was being handled and that everything was going to be all right. His reassuring voice, they
said, helped calm the passengers and prevent further injury or death.
People have been known
to jump overboard when they see a fire as large as the one that was blazing on the Star Princess that night.
By the time the ship
reached Montego Bay the following day, the fire was out, although smoke could still be seen
rising from the opened blackened holes in the port side. The passengers that were not hospitalized were all flown home and
given full refunds by the company.
Passengers praised the
way the ship’s crew handled the emergency and maintained calm. They said the crew also prepared lifeboats for launch
in the even that the fire could not be controlled, but this was never necessary.
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