Fire Breaks out Aboard Royal Caribbean Cruise Ship
Passengers were throwing up, crying... I thought we were going to sink!' The terrifying moment fire engulfed Royal Caribbean cruise and crew got ready to abandon ship
A huge fire broke out on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship last night forcing the two thousand passengers to abandon abandon their rooms on board and prepare to get into life boats.
The Grandeur of the Seas was forced to return to port this morning after the rear of the ship caught fire sending smoke into several hallways and keeping several passengers in assembly stations for over four hours.
Monday afternoon Royal Caribbean made the startling announcement that that they were reversing a prior decision and cancelling the Grandeur of the Seas cruise when it was determined it could no longer safely take passengers to the Bahamas, its intended destination.
'It was obviously the most terrifying thing in my life,' says passenger Katie Coleman according to CBS News.
'There was panic on deck as passengers watched lifeboats being lowered into the water.'
Passengers report that amid the chaos life preservers were distributed to several people as they waited in safety areas#
The fire broke out on deck 3 and was quickly extinguished but the damage caused Royal Caribbean to cancel the cruise bound for the Bahamas
The ship was forced to dock in Freeport, Grand Bahama island as the fire damage was assessed
According to several passenger accounts nobody was seriously injured but the fire did cause smoke and flooding
Passenger Bang Warren was one of those passengers who had to evacuate her room as a warning horn blared over the sound system.
She described the scene chaotic to The Baltimore Sun, saying, 'A lot of people were passing out with fear.'
Bang also said she saw crew members distributing oxygen masks and life vests. She also says that, 'I know some children were vomiting.'
Photos of the ship emerged on social media showing that the entire rear of the ship was charred and destroyed.
Royal Caribbean announced that the 2,224 passengers would be receiving a full refund and a gift certificate from the company.
Another passenger, Danielle Miller, 23, said that she was sound asleep and was unaware of anything untoward until the ship's intercom asked passengers to put life jackets on.
'My first thought was that we were sinking,' said Danielle of her terror.
'I opened the door and just see people running around with life jackets on and we were being yelled at to get our life jackets on and run up to a deck that was two floors above us,' she told ABC News.
'But we didn't know what was going on because when we were going to bed it was really stormy, so we honestly thought the boat might have been sinking. And we were just panicking and running upstairs.
'And we didn't know for about a half hour that there was a fire two decks below where we were at.'
Miller revealed she was so nervous as the fire raged that her hands were shaking and her heart was pounding.
'A couple people fainted. People were throwing up, crying. Just anxiety attacks everywhere. I was just telling my roommate stay calm,' she said
Nathan Pletscher spoke to ABC News to explain how he became nervous for his parents aboard the ship only after he looked at a photo tweeted by Royal Caribbean's public relations team.
'We originally saw a news article and were a little nervous. When we made contact with my parents, they said there was a small fire. When I saw the photo on Twitter, I said, 'That was a little more than a small fire.' It's really fortunate the crew was able to get fire under control and things of that nature,' said Pletscher, to ABC News.
Speaking to the news network, Pletscher admitted that his parents had a 'sense of panic' and had become 'obviously nervous', but were calmed by the ships crew.
'When the alarm first went off, there as an 'uh-oh' moment,' Pletscher said. 'But they couldn't say enough about how organized and professional both the captain and crew were. They kept everyone calm and were extremely transparent on with the whole situation.'
The Twitter account for their public relations department announced they were in the process of scheduling passengers on flights to Baltimore.
Firefighter Brian Goss (who was a passenger on the ship) told WOOD-TV that some of the cabins did experience flooding and that the hallways smelled of smoke for most of the morning.
He actually praised the efforts of the company, and said they were working tirelessly on the unfurling situation.
'Up all night in emergency mode and now serving food and drinks with smiling faces and no sleep.'
Royal Caribbean has said they are in the process of arranging flights for the 2,224 guests currently aboard the ship
An announcement from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship that passengers needed to go their muster stations roused Mark J. Ormesher from his stateroom on the Grandeur of the Seas early Monday. A fire had broken out.
Ormesher said in an email to The Associated Press that immediately after the captain's announcement, his room attendant knocked on the door and told him and his girlfriend to grab their flotation devices, saying: 'This was not a drill.'
The native of England, who lives in Manassas, Va., Ormesher said he and his girlfriend smelled acrid smoke as they went to their muster station, the ship's casino. He said the crew quickly provided instruction.
This encouraged calm amongst the passengers,' he said. Passengers were required to remain at their stations for four hours, he said, and the captain 'provided us as much information as we needed to stay safe.'
Royal Caribbean said that the fire that began at 2:50 a.m. was extinguished about two hours later with no injuries reported.
Ormesher, 25, and on his first cruise, said the air conditioner had been shut off, and as the hours passed and the ship got hot, bottled water was passed around. The crew and passengers remained calm, and helped those who needed it. Crying babies were given formula and held while their parents used the bathrooms.
The ship had sailed from Baltimore on Friday and arrived in Freeport, Bahamas, Monday afternoon.
In Freeport, passenger Andrea Sanders of Washington, D.C., said she slept on the deck with hundreds of other passengers as smoke billowed out of the stern of the ship. 'I was terrified with it being my first cruise,' Sanders told The Freeport News as she ate lunch in port.
Royal Caribbean said all 2,224 guests and 796 crew were safe and accounted for.
Carnival Corp. also had trouble with fire aboard ship earlier this year.
The 900-foot Triumph was disabled during a February cruise by an engine room fire in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving thousands of passengers to endure cold food, unsanitary conditions and power outages while the ship was towed to Mobile, Ala. It remained there for repairs until early May when it headed back to sea under its own power.
On the Granduer, after passengers were allowed to leave their stations, Ormesher said he saw water on the outside of deck 5 and in the hallways. The mooring lines were destroyed he said; crew members brought new lines from storage.
The damage at the rear of the ship 'looks bad,' Ormesher said; burned out equipment was visible.
Ormesher posted about the fire on Facebook and gave details of the evacuation and aftermath in emails to the AP.
Ormesher says he got off the ship to spend some time in Freeport. He has not decided whether to continue on the cruise. 'I've been having a good time on the ship and am in no hurry to leave,' he said.
Magnus Alnebeck, general manager of the Pelican Bay Hotel, said they were asked to hold rooms for passengers, although it was not yet clear how many would stay there.
The ship will stay docked in Freeport overnight. Royal Caribbean said in a statement on its website that most public areas and staterooms are safe and power, propulsion and communications systems functioned without interruption.
Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Adam Goldstein met with passengers in Freeport.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a tweet that it will join the U.S. Coast Guard in investigating the fire.