In a statement released last night, Princess Cruises confirmed the common hypothesis for the location where fire broke out on Star Princess last month, and indeed it started on a balcony.
At this point "no definitive cause of the fire has yet been determined," however.
The statement does say that since the terrifying outbreak, which occurred in the morning's wee hours while the ship was sailing between Grand Cayman and Jamaica, Princess has added additional precautions across its fleet. "To that end, we implemented a 24-hour watch of our balconies, introduced specific training and fire response procedures for our crew in handling fires on balconies, enhanced communication to passengers regarding fire safety, and changed certain crew housekeeping procedures on balconies."
The statement also notes that Princess is working to create long-term measures that will improve fire safety on balconies. Indeed, the fire spread so rapidly because, while interior spaces, from staterooms to dining areas, are equipped with fire prevention technology, such as sprinklers and other measures, verandahs are not.
Princess' solutions, short- and long-term, will no doubt have an impact on the rest of the industry as no ship's verandahs are equipped with fire prevention techniques.
Amazingly, no one died as a direct result of the fire. The ship is now docked at Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven for repairs and is on track to resume sailings on May 15.
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It's Official -- Star Princess Fire Started On A Balcony
March 15, 2006