May 29, 2001
The U.S. Coast Guard, which requires all cruise ships calling in at U.S. ports to undergo surprise safety inspections, acted on a tip that Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norway was flouting international safety regulations and flunked the ship Sunday. Norwegian, which hoped to quickly make repairs and sail Norway this week on an abbreviated voyage, has officially canceled it after the Coast Guard, in a second inspection Monday, still saw too many safety hazards. The exam revealed that there were some 105 fire safety violations including patch jobs on the sprinkler system that were made of rubber instead of welded and which, as a result, would melt during an actual blaze. More than 2,000 passengers had already boarded the ship as the Coast Guard carried out its investigation. Passengers were initially offered a handful of options like sailing an abbreviated Caribbean voyage as soon as repairs were completed, but the line is now making air arrangements to send them home. According to the Coast Guard, the agency’s move to shutdown a cruise ship for safety violations just prior to an actual sailing was fairly unprecedented. The circa-1961 former-ocean-liner, one of cruise-dom’s oldest existing vessels catering to North American travelers, is slated to depart Norwegian’s fleet in late summer.