Following initial (spurious) reports from the Jamaica Gleaner that a fire had broken out onboard Grand Princess as the ship was leaving Ocho Rios -- with onshore witnesses reporting thick plumes of black smoke pouring from the ship -- new details have emerged on the conflagration that never was.
According to Princess spokesperson Julie Benson, it was a case of engine malfunction, which resulted in the smoke seen from shore.
Want to know what really happened, technically speaking? Benson told Cruise Critic the following:
"Upon departure from Ocho Rios yesterday Grand Princess was operating with four of her six engines. A turbo charger casing on engine five unexpectedly failed, and the engine was automatically stopped. The transfer of electrical load to the ship's other engines resulted in further turbo charger problems and, as a result, one turbo charger on engine No. 3 seized, causing smoke in the engine spaces.
"The engine room ventilation system quickly evacuated the smoke out of the ship's funnel, and this was visible from shore.
"The ship's engineers stabilized the engines and related systems before the ship continued onward with three of her six engines in operation. All engines have subsequently been reinstated apart from engine No. 5 which requires a new turbo charger casing which will be installed in Ft. Lauderdale during turnaround."
Through all this, passenger safety was never an issue, and the ship is currently en route to Cozumel.
Stay tuned for more on the status of Grand Princess. We'll be keeping an eye on the ship's repair process this weekend.
--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor