Thursday, September 15, 2011

Hurtigruten fire: how safe is your cruise?

Ships do sink, as was graphically illustrated in November 2007, when the Gap Adventures’ ship Explorer went down in the ice waters of Antarctica, thankfully in calm conditions and with no loss of life.

But for captains, the greatest fear is what happened earlier today on board a Hurtigruten ship as it was sailing off the coast of Ă…lesund in Norway earlier today. A fire.

It’s why during the safety drill held before each cruise – the one people complain about, and talk through – passengers are told never to throw lighted material over the side of the ship and to make sure cigarette butts are extinguished. A smouldering cigarette caused a fire on Star Princess in April 2006 that killed one passenger, injured 11 others and damaged a huge section of the ship.

It is too early to know what caused the fire on Nordlys but unconfirmed reports suggest it started in the aft engine room. Tragically two crew have died and eight others have been taken to hospital - four with serious injuries. All other passengers and crew have been evacuated to Ă…lesund’s Rica Parken Hotel. more