Fire aboard ship brings early end to cruise

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A fire broke out at 2:50 a.m. Monday aboard a Royal Caribbean International ship, forcing an end to the Bahamas-bound cruise.

“Unfortunately, the damage caused by the fire on Grandeur of the Seas will require us to cancel the rest of the voyage,” said Cynthia Martinez, a spokeswoman for Miami-based Royal Caribbean.

On Monday, the cruise line was making arrangements to return all 2,224 guests to Baltimore the next day.

Royal Caribbean International will provide each guest with a full refund as well as a cruise certificate for 100 percent of the cruise fare.

Grandeur of the Seas, fresh from a $48 million bow-to-stern revitalization, was on a seven-night cruise that departed Baltimore on Friday and included port calls to Port Canaveral, and to CocoCay and Nassau in the Bahamas.

“Royal Caribbean International is deeply sorry for this unexpected development in our guests’ vacation,” Martinez said. “We understand that this may have been a very stressful time for them. And we also know that it has significantly impacted their vacation experience. We appreciate their patience and cooperation in dealing with this unfortunate situation.”

The crew extinguished the fire by 5 a.m.

“It’s a shame,” said Stewart Chiron, president and CEO of the Miami-based website “The ship looked phenomenal. The good news is there were no injuries.”

U.S. Coast Guard cutters escorted the Grandeur of the Seas to Freeport, where officials were assessing the damage Monday and trying to determine what caused the fire.

The ship never lost power and made it to port around 10:15 a.m. Monday.

The fire began on the third deck of the aft mooring area and spread to the crew’s lounge on the fourth deck, Coast Guard spokeswoman Marilyn Fajardo said.

“Around 3 a.m., we received a report of a fire aboard the cruise ship,” Fajardo said. “Because this is a fire at sea, we respond to make sure everyone is OK.”

The 917-foot ship, with 796 crew members, initially was headed to the private Bahamian island of CocoCay, but was diverted to Freeport after the fire broke out.

On Monday, Royal Caribbean President and CEO Adam Goldstein flew to the Bahamas to meet with guests and crew.

Medical staff responded to several calls for assistance Monday, but none were medical emergencies. The calls included fainting, reports of high blood pressure and an ankle sprain, Martinez said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A series of cruise ship mishaps have made headlines of late, putting the entire industry in the spotlight.

In January 2012, the Costa Concordia capsized off Italy’s west coast, killing 32 people and forcing some passengers to swim to shore. The captain will go to trial on manslaughter charges for leaving the ship before its crew and passengers were taken ashore, an Italian judge ruled last week.

In February, the Carnival Triumph spent five days adrift in the Gulf of Mexico thanks to a fire in the engine room. With no electricity, air conditioners stopped running and toilets overflowed.

And in March, the Carnival Dream was forced to remain in a St. Maarten port after experiencing problems with a backup generator.