August 22, 2001
An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board into last
year’s fire aboard Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam reveals it was caused
by “unauthorized use of an electrical appliance left unattended in a crew
The fire, which occurred while the ship was headed to Alaska’s Glacier Bay
National Park, broke out in the crew cabin area. But what compounded the
damage -- costing an estimated $360,000 and resulting in one passenger’s
being evacuated due to smoke inhalation (though no fatalities) -- was
according to the NTSB report, that “the ship's chief officer and chief
engineer abandoned the existing firefighting plan and attempted to
extinguish the fire without proper gear or backup. The officers'
inappropriate actions directly contributed to the spread of fire and smoke.”
Ultimately, the NTSB says, “the ship's onboard firefighting teams, properly
equipped and trained, eventually put out the fire, but not before smoke had
migrated throughout the ship creating hazardous conditions on several
The NTSB recommended that Holland America Line Westours, Inc. revise
emergency response efforts in the wake of the fire and also suggests the
same for other cruise lines.
Incidentally, the ship has since been sold to U.S. Lines and is sailing Hawaii as the Patriot.