Thursday, June 18, 2009

Engine Room Fire Aboard Royal Princess

Princess Cruises confirms there was an engine room fire which broke out at 8:10pm this evening aboard Royal Princess. (1:10pm Eastern Daylight Time) The fire was extinguished without it spreading.

Passengers were mustered, and everyone - all passengers and crew - is accounted for. There were no injuries directly from the fire. One passenger was taken to the medical center with chest pains.

Passengers remained at their muster stations for more than five hours as a precaution but they were permitted to return to their cabins for the night. The ship is operating on emergency power and lighting, and one of the things, understandably, that does not operate on emergency power is the air conditioning.

The incident happened as the ship was sailing from Port Said, Egypt, before it had gotten out to sea, and it is anchored safely about 5 miles offshore. Princess says they plan to bring it back to Port Said on Friday, as early as they can. It is still being determined if it can sail under its own power or if it will need to be towed.

Technical experts, representatives of various regulatory agencies and a Princess Care Team are all en route to the ship and are expected to arrive there Friday evening.

Damage assessment will continue throughout Friday and Saturday.

Princess says they are doing their utmost to make the passengers as comfortable as possible under the circumstances.

Royal Princess obviously will not be leaving Port Said before Sunday, and Princess says they intend to make tours of the area available to passengers once they arrive back at port. They will possibly (probably) be moved to hotels.

Once the assessments are completed on Saturday, Princess says they will have a better understanding of how the rest of this cruise (or any future sailings) will be impacted. At that time they will also know what compensation will be appropriate to offer passengers.

Royal Princess is carrying 733 passengers and 393 crew members. It was on the 5th day of a 12-day Holy Land cruise from Civitavecchia.

The story will continue to develop through the weekend. Princess says that due to the time difference and the length of time necessary for the experts to arrive on the scene, there probably will be no further news until midday (eastern time) on Friday.

Later updates from Friday are on this blog item.

Editorial note: We've only seen two pictures from the ship (below) of passengers at their muster station and sleeping on deck, and conditions do not look as uncomfortable as we might imagine. There is a lack of air conditioning and hot meals, but people seem in good spirits, and they know they will at least be back on shore on Friday.

Apparently due to the lack of air conditioning, most people slept on deck.

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Phone numbers have been established for inquiries from family of passengers and crew (only please) currently onboard Royal Princess:
For inquiries about family: 800-693-7222
For inquiries about crew members: 661-753-2804

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