Star Princess


Star Princess After Fire Is Out

Port Side Damage Up Close

Princess Cruise Ship Fire Could Have Been A Disaster


By James Donahue

August, 2006


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 at sea.


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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