The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

May 29, 2013

Passengers describe calm scene after cruise fire

LINTHICUM, Md. — Passengers whose cruise vacations were cut short by a fire onboard the Grandeur of the Seas arrived back home Tuesday on charter flights from the Bahamas, many praising the crew’s response and some already planning their next sailings.

Rebecca Killinger of Carlisle, Pa., said she had no idea how extensive the fire was until she debarked in Freeport, Bahamas. Photos of the Royal Caribbean ship show a large area of the stern charred on several decks.

She credited the crew’s calm, orderly response. “The crew was in total control, and there was no chaos,” she said, and some cracked jokes to lighten the mood.

Passengers described being awoken in their cabins as crew members knocked on doors and sent them to evacuation stations with their life jackets shortly after the fire broke out at 2:50 a.m. Monday.

Robert Alexander of Hamilton, N.J., said crew members from all parts of the Grandeur were involved. An actor from the ship’s theater made announcements as passengers left their rooms.

“It just shows the training they do,” Alexander said. “Our head waiter at our dinner table was one of the first responders.”

Royal Caribbean says life boats were not boarded and power was never lost. The fire was extinguished in about two hours, with no injuries reported among the 2,200 passengers or the crew. The ship, which left Baltimore on Friday for a seven-night cruise, was headed originally to CocoCay, Bahamas, but instead sailed to Freeport on Monday afternoon. It remained there Tuesday.

The vice president of the Grand Bahama Shipyard said the ship would be repaired at his facility, though a full assessment of damage hadn’t been done yet. “I’m assuming it will be a big job for us,” Reuben Byrd said.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said late Tuesday that repairs would be carried out at the shipyard. The cause of the fire was not immediately known.

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