The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

AP story section

May 29, 2013

Passengers describe calm scene after cruise fire

(Continued)

Byrd said the shipyard didn’t know the cause either. National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said the agency has sent one senior investigator to the Bahamas. No other details about the investigation were available.

Royal Caribbean said passengers would receive full fare refunds and certificates for a future cruise. The company chartered 11 flights for passengers to return to Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Craig Dzubak, 26, of Pittsburgh, was on the second. He said he and his wife were already planning their next sailing while traveling home.

“The crew was awesome. I’ll never go on any other cruise line,” he said. “They couldn’t have handled it any better.”

The fire aboard the Grandeur was the second to halt a cruise this year. The Carnival Triumph was disabled during a February cruise by an engine room fire in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving thousands of passengers to endure cold food, unsanitary conditions and power outages while the ship was towed to Mobile, Ala. It remained there for repairs until early May when it headed back to sea under its own power.

Fran Golden, a blogger for the cruise magazine Porthole, said the two incidents were quite different.

“I think it’s easier to make people happy when they’re not stuck on a ship for four days without toilets,” she said.

Still, she applauded Royal Caribbean’s public relations efforts after the fire. She said sending Royal Caribbean CEO Adam Goldstein to meet with passengers in the Bahamas was a “brilliant move.” The company also Tweeted a picture of one meeting.

“It shows that you’re a responsible company. It shows that you care. It’s not just, ‘oh well, this incident happened,’” she said.

Mike Driscoll, editor of the Illinois-based publication Cruise Week, said Royal Caribbean had the benefit of hindsight and could use lessons from the recent Triumph fire in its response. He said company took charge of the response on social media, sending out photos and updates. He likened it to the company saying, “Hey, we’re not hiding anything.”

Passenger Killinger said there was no comparison to the Triumph in her experience on the Grandeur. “We joked prior to all of this happening about the Carnival ships,” she said.

After Monday’s fire, the Carnival ship Sensation was on standby to help the Grandeur and remained in its general vicinity as it powered to Freeport.

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