Fire Breaks Out on World’s Biggest Cruise Ship, Icon of the Seas

by SharonKurheg

If there’s one thing cruise ships always want to avoid, it’s an onboard fire. And with good reason…if you’re hundreds of miles at sea and a fire breaks out, it’s not as if the fire department can quickly come and put it out. I mean, cruise ships have a firefighting team on board, as well as automatic sprinklers and everything else they’d need to put out a fire. But sometimes, all of that isn’t even enough. Ask any of the 2600 passengers aboard the Star Princess, which ignited in March 2006.

a collage of a room with a bed and a couch

Aftermath of Star Princess cruise fire

Believed to be caused by a cigarette, 150 rooms were charred by the fire, while another 100 had smoke damage. 13 passengers suffered significant smoke inhalation and one passed away from, “asphyxia secondary to inhalation of smoke and irrespirable gases.”

So yeah, fires on ships? Not a good thing. That’s why, aside from the obvious items that guests aren’t allowed to bring aboard, such as firearms and illegal drugs, and the cruise ship that prohibits some rather unusual things, you’re not allowed to bring anything on board that could potentially start a fire: fireworks, extension cords, gasoline, anything with a heating element, etc.


Unfortunately, even the most prepared vessel can be at risk, which is exactly what happened to Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas this past Tuesday. The cruise ship – the largest in the world, no less – experienced a “small fire” which was “quickly” extinguished, according to CNN and other media outlets. The cruise line said there were no injuries, and the overall onboard impact was “minimal.”

Of course, the mainline news sources just gave the basics of what happened. Said CNN:

The record-breaking Icon of the Seas – which is nearly 1,200-foot-long and 250,800 gross tons – was docked in Costa Maya, Mexico when the incident occurred. The vessel briefly lost power, but back-up power was activated right away.

The Royal Caribbean spokesperson confirmed crew members controlled the blaze, explaining all crew are trained to handle such situations.

During the incident, on-board announcements alerted passengers about what was happening, according to the cruise line. Social media users on an Icon of the Seas Facebook group spoke of minor disruption to their day, but proceedings were quickly back to normal.

However, cruise geeks, much like aviation geeks, always want to know the rest of the story. The back end of it. The stuff that a typical reader wouldn’t care about – but a cruise fan would.

Yeah, we found that info, too

Tuesday was day four of the 7-night cruise. It was about 3pm and Icon of the Seas arrived and docked in Costa Maya.

According to some sources, it’s hypothesized that a small explosion may have also occurred just before the fire. That’s roughly when guests onboard reported a shuddering or shaking, followed by the emergency code “Bravo Bravo Bravo” over the public address system. That code is typically used to indicate a fire. Here are some other emergency codes you’re not supposed to know about.

When the vessel lost power, it was gone from everywhere on the ship – elevators, stateroom doors, pool pumps, air conditioning, etc. Due to the outage, guests couldn’t leave the ship or re-board the vessel because security and identification scanners weren’t functional due to the lack of electricity. Power went on and off for about an hour or so, believed to be due to the backup power system before it was completely restored.

It’s believed that the incident might have occurred in the ship’s engine room. However different announcements also mentioned “I-95” which is a nickname given to one of the main “behind the scenes” crew corridors on most cruise ships. Various crew members were also seen wearing fire suppression gear.

A user on Reddit, u/reddituid, posted:

I’m on the ship. The power went out for 20 minutes. Calls on the intercom were Bravo Bravo Bravo, then later instruction 23. Crew are at emergency stations.

About an hour later they wrote:

Everything back to normal. Power was out about 20 minutes, people not able to board or leave for an hour, and crew at muster stations for 60-90 minutes. No official announcement what the incident was.

Satellite tracking data showed that Icon of the Seas remained docked later than her scheduled 5:00pm ET departure time from Costa Maya. She finally pulled out of port around 6:30pm ET.

a map of the caribbeanReports are that Icon of the Seas continued her cruise, as scheduled, from that point onward.

PC: Royal Caribbean

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