As predicted here on Cruise Critic, the recent fire that broke out onboard Princess Cruises'Star Princess has had implications beyond just that cruise line. While the cause has not yet been determined it's widely believed that a cigarette caused the outbreak.
As you may recall, the fire originated on a ship's balcony, the one area of any cruise ship that is not protected with sprinklers. And although no one died as a direct result of the fire, the major damage to Star Princess (currently in a European shipyard undergoing repairs) has spurred Princess to insitute a new policy for monitoring areas such as verandahs.
An effort to counter the risk of fire by increasing vigilance on all vessels with balconies where there may be a presence of combustible materials and a lack of detectors or sprinkler systems. In this respect, the provision of dedicated lookouts and additional fire patrols should be considered.
Review the crew's onboard training and response procedures to ensure that the ship's firefighting teams are prepared to respond to a fire occurring in the balcony area.
Advise passengers and crew not to leave towels and personal belongings on balconies when they are not in their rooms.
Instruct housekeeping staff to place personal articles left on balconies by room occupants back in the room during their last visit of the day to the guest room, and to observe balconies during other visits to the room.
Re-emphasize fire safety in communications to passengers, including the distribution of appropriate informational pamphlets.
Re-emphasize to passengers the need not to throw any items over a ship's side from balconies or other external areas.
Remind passengers of the hazards of not properly extinguishing smoking materials where smoking is authorized, and never to leave smoking materials unattended.
Re-emphasize to crew and passengers the hazards of using unauthorized heating elements such as electrical heating coils used in cups or mugs and open flames such as candles.
Interestingly, what's not mentioned in the ICCL's recommendations is an effort to cut back on places where passengers are allowed to smoke.