(5 p.m.) -- Princess Cruises has offered an update on Star Princess, which is currently docked at Jamaica's Montego Bay after a major fire early this morning that spread through approximately 100 passenger staterooms. The cruise line notes that the cause is still unknown -- despite rampant speculation elsewhere that the cause of the fire was a still-lit cigarette -- and Princess is working with the U.S. Coast Guard to assess the damage.
The cruise will be terminated in Montego Bay -- a decision that won't surprise anyone -- and Princess is working to arrange air home for all passengers. Only those folks who were burned out of their cabins will actually stay in land-based resorts on Jamaica. The remainder will continue to sleep onboard and a spokeswoman says that all facilities are operational.
It anticipates that passengers will be flown home over the next two days. The cruise line will extend a full refund of cruise fare and will cover out-of-pocket travel expenses. Princess also will give passengers a future cruise credit worth about 25 percent of the actual fare paid.
Star Princess' next cruise, slated to depart Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday, March 26, is canceled. According to the statement, "Similarly, passengers booked on this sailing will receive a full refund, the same 25 percent credit towards a future cruise, and Princess will additionally cover out-of-pocket travel expenses as a result of the change."
It also notes that "over the course of the next few days we will fully assess damage caused by the fire and plan to make the necessary temporary repairs to enable the ship to maintain its onward schedule. A plan for the repairs to the affected cabins will also be drawn up, and passengers booked in those cabins will be advised as soon as possible of our forward plans.
"A special number has been set up for inquiries from immediate family of passengers who are currently onboard: 1-800-693-7222."
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Cruise Line Issues Official Star Princess Update -- 5 p.m.
March 23, 2006