Tourism & Cruises

Cruise to continue after Freedom of the Seas fire in Jamaica

Fire broke out on Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas Wednesday morning, as shown in this photo from the Jamaica Gleaner news site.
Fire broke out on Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas Wednesday morning, as shown in this photo from the Jamaica Gleaner news site.

Royal Caribbean International’s Freedom of the Seas was scheduled to continue its weeklong voyage Wednesday after fire broke out, injuring one crew member and sending thousands of passengers to their emergency gathering stations.

No passengers were reported hurt, but one crew member suffered first-degree burns. All systems on the ship were functioning, according to a spokeswoman.

The fire started in a mechanical area on the 9-year-old ship around 9:15 a.m. as the vessel was pulling in to Falmouth, Jamaica. Freedom of the Seas left Cape Canaveral on Sunday with 4,454 passengers and 1,428 crew on board.

Fire suppression systems were “immediately activated,” according to a statement from the Miami-based cruise line, and extinguished the blaze within an hour and a half.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Guests were sent to their assembly stations “in an abundance of caution,” the statement said. Some passengers tweeted pictures of crowds packed together, many wearing orange life vests, and photos from Falmouth showed smoke billowing from the top of the vessel.

Passengers were allowed to disembark in Falmouth around 1 p.m.

On its corporate Twitter account, @RCLcorp, Royal Caribbean Cruises said the ship would continue on its scheduled itinerary with the next stop Thursday in George Town, Grand Cayman. The seven-night Western Caribbean sailing also includes stops in Haiti’s Labadee port and Cozumel.

No future itineraries will be changed as a result of the fire.

The U.S. Coast Guard will inspect the ship when it returns to a U.S. port, the agency said in a tweet.

Despite the crew member’s injury, Wednesday’s situation could have been far worse. In December, a fire on Oceania Cruises’ Insignia killed a crew member and two contract workers. The ship was taken out of service for repairs for nine weeks.

When Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas had a fire in 2013, the ship was out of commission for about a month and a half. Earlier that year, the Carnival Triumph was disabled by fire, leaving passengers without power, working toilets or hot water at sea for several days. The ship spent about four months undergoing repairs and getting upgrades to its fire safety technology.

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