Friday, March 30, 2012

Azamara Quest Fire Updates

Latest update - at 5pm (EDT) April 1 - is below

A fire broke out in the engine room of Azamara Quest at 8:19pm on March 30 (local time, 8:19am on March 30 eastern daylight time), while the ship was sailing 200 miles off the coast of Balikpapan (Borneo), Indonesia.

RCCL (Azamara is a brand of Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd) said the fire was contained to that engine room and quickly extinguished. The company said that preferring to err on the side of caution, the passengers were called to their muster stations.

The ship initially switched to emergency power, so it was without propulsion or most hotel services, including air conditioning.

The RCCL spokesperson said there were no injuries to passengers, but didn't have information about any injuries to crew members.

RCCL said the sea conditions were calm, and the mood aboard among passengers was also calm.

Azamara Quest left Hong Kong on a 17-night cruise on Monday, March 26. It was to conclude at Singapore on April 12. The ship was sailing from Manila to Balikpapan at the time of the fire. RCCL does not yet have information on where the ship will go now.

Azamara Quest is 30,277 gross registered tons, and carries 694 passengers double occupancy.

Updates will be posted on this item (below map).

View Azamara Quest incident in a larger map

Click the blue pins for the names of the points.


UPDATE: March 30, 6pm eastern time

Engineers have managed to restart one engine. That has allowed many hotel services to be restored - air conditioning, running water, plumbing, refrigeration, food preparation. Engineers are continuing to work on restarting propulsion.

Updates will continue to be posted on this item.


UPDATE: March 31, 1:25am eastern time

Engineers aboard Azamara Quest have not yet been successful in restoring the ship's propulsion but are continuing to work on it.

The Philippine Coast Guard said they have two vessels and a patrol boat en route to Azamara Quest's location. They should reach it "late Saturday" (local time, which would put it at early Saturday eastern time).

Once they do, the ship will sail to Sandakan (Sabah), Malaysia where passengers will disembark and fly home from there. There will be no estimate on the arrival time until the ship can get underway.

The situation is made more urgent by the medical condition of one crew member who needs shoreside medical care due to injuries he suffered in the fire. He will be transported to a hospital once the ship arrives in Sandakan. Five other crew members suffered smoke inhalation and are being treated in the ship's medical facility.

The balance of the current sailing will be canceled, and information about the impact on the April 12 sailing will be forthcoming Monday, once more is known about the ship's mechanical condition.

Passengers aboard the current sailing are being given a full refund along with a future cruise certificate in the amount of 100% of what they paid for the March 26 cruise.

Azamara president and CEO, Larry Pimentel, is flying to Sandakan to meet with the guests and crew members personally. He is scheduled to arrive in Malaysia on Monday morning local time.

Updates will continue to be posted on this item.


UPDATE: March 31, 10am eastern time

Limited propulsion has been restored to Azamara Quest.

The ship is proceeding to Sandakan at a speed of 3 to 6 knots. Arrival is expected in 24 to 48 hours.

Azamara reports that the condition of the one severely injured crew member has improved but is still serious.

Unconfirmed reports from passengers aboard continue to say the mood aboard is still upbeat, and there is limited power for hotel services. They say that basics such as air conditioning and water are up and running but some services such as elevators are not.

The passenger reports say they were held at their muster stations for a total of about two-and-a-half hours yesterday, and the fire was extinguished within about an hour.

Updates will continue to be posted on this item.


UPDATE: March 31, 630pm eastern time

Azamara Quest is continuing to sail toward Sandakan (Sabah), Malaysia at a speed of approximately six knots. The ship is now approximately 100 miles from Sandakan. The ship is now expected to arrive at approximately 10pm Sunday night (10am Sunday morning eastern time).

There is a correction to earlier updates. The engineers have been unable to restart the air conditioning completely, although they are continuing to work on it. They were previously able to actually only start the fans to circulate the air, but they haven't yet been able to restart the compressors which provide the cooling.

Azamara says that the mood aboard the ship is calm and upbeat.

Azamara president Larry Pimentel is currently en route to Sandakan to meet personally with the passengers and crew. He is scheduled to arrive Monday morning.

Updates will continue to be posted on this item.


UPDATE: April 1, 5pm eastern time

Azamara Quest arrived Sandakan, Malaysia this evening at 9:23pm local time. Passengers were given the option to remain aboard (up until Tuesday, if they wish) or transfer to a local hotel. Flight arrangements are being made for passengers' departure from Sandakan as expeditiously as possible. It appears most passengers will depart on charter flights to Singapore on Tuesday.

The injured crew member was taken immediately to a local hospital for additional treatment.

Azamara president Larry Pimentel is currently en route to Sandakan to meet personally with the passengers and crew. He is still scheduled to arrive Monday morning, local time (Sunday night eastern time).