July 19, 2001
The cause of the Carnival Ecstasy fire -- the dramatic, five-hour blaze that was captured on television for all to see in the summer of‘98 while the passenger-laden ship was sailing just off Miami -- is officially put to rest by the National Transportation Safety Board. The government agency issued its final report, noting that the cause was “the unauthorized welding by crew members in the main laundry that ignited a large accumulation of lint in the ventilation system and the failure of Carnival Cruise Lines to maintain the laundry exhaust ducts in a fire-safe condition. “Contributing to the extensive fire damage on the ship,” the report continues, “was the lack of an automatic fire suppression system on the aft mooring deck and the lack of an automatic means of mitigating the spread of smoke and fire through the ventilation ducts.” The NTSB’s report on the incident also says that only one passenger was classified with serious injuries -- a traveler with a preexisting condition who spent a fair amount of time in a hospital afterwards. From the good-usually-comes-from-bad philosophy, the NTSB has, as a result of the Ecstasy fire, compiled a list of recommendations for safety-related changes that has been sent not only to Carnival but also to other major cruise lines embarking passengers in U.S. ports.