Star Princess Suffers Major Fire
Cruise Line Issues Official Star Princess Update
Cruise Line Issues Official Star Princess Update -- 5 p.m.
Star Princess Verdict In: Returns May 15
Princess' Latest Update Offers Few Clues
Star Princess Arrives at Bahamian Shipyard
Star Princess' April 2 Cruise: Canceled
Oceania Tightens Onboard Smoking Rules
Star Princess Fire Fuels Cruise Industry Plan
Star Princess Update
Star Princess Returns!
Posters on Cruise Critic's Princess board -- curious about how Star Princess fared after its recent post-fire repairs -- were nonplussed that, for the first few days following its return to the seas, no one on the ship had gotten around to checking in.

But Carol2765, who boarded Star Princess on Monday as planned, has alleviated any concerns. "Sorry it took so long to post but we're having such a good time I just didn't make the time to get on the internet!" she wrote, before going off to offer some observations. "Our cabin doesn't smell of smoke but there is a strong smell of new carpeting."

To most passengers, Star Princess won't look any different than it did before the fire, in which 79 cabins were destroyed, 204 were damaged and the mid-ship pool buckled. However, there have been some changes. Balcony furniture, which previously was plastic, is now non-combustible. Verandah dividers, previously composed of plastic polycarbonate -- a material that until the fire was approved by international cruise line safety rules, are being replaced with those made of aluminum (in fact, Princess spokeswoman Julie Benson told Cruise Critic that workers are still in the process of replacing some dividers and the work will occur while the ship is in port in order to cause minimal disruption). An even bigger change is the addition of new fire detection and suppression systems. All balconies on Star Princess now have sprinklers. In fact, the new systems will actually be implemented fleetwide within the next six months. However, "until we put all these [new] permanent measures in place," Benson notes, "the short term measures we already have implemented, such as 24-hour watch of balconies, specific training and fire response procedures for crew in handling fires on balconies, enhanced communication to passengers regarding fire safety, and the change of certain crew housekeeping procedures on balconies, offer a comprehensive safety system."

Benson says that passengers will notice no difference in stateroom decor. "We really wanted to keep the staterooms consistent across the fleet in materials and designs, so you would never know if you are in a new replacement or an existing cabin.

Carol2765 noted that "some of the crew returned and others are new," adding that a bartender told her "about 30 - 40 percent of the crew stayed onboard the entire time the Star was being repaired."