The second major fire on a cruise shipin four months once again has the industry facing questions about safety, even as it braces for another downturn in bookings.
Although no one was seriously injured in Monday's blaze aboard Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas, "the image of the entire industry suffers," says Christopher Muller, a professor and former dean of Boston University's School of Hospitality Administration. "With so many other vacation options, cruise leadership will need to work together to overcome perceptions of unsafe conditions."
As of late Tuesday, a Royal Caribbean spokeswoman still wasn't able to say what had caused the fire, which broke out in a mooring area at Grandeur's stern as it sailed toward CoCoCay, the line's private island in the Bahamas. The ship never lost power and was able to reach Freeport, Bahamas, about seven hours after the fire started.
"We are working closely with the various agencies that are looking into what happened, (and) until the investigation is complete, I won't have an update on the cause," Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez told USA TODAY.
Martinez also said she couldn't comment on whether the fire had spread beyond decks 3 and 4, as the company said on Monday, even though wire service photos appear to show damage to decks 5 and 6.
Both the U.S. Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board are involved in the investigation.
On Tuesday, Royal Caribbean flew most of Grandeur's 2,224 passengers back to Baltimore, where the ship is based, after canceling the rest of what was supposed to be a seven-night cruise. The trip began on Friday.
By Gene Sloan, USA TODAY
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