Update, April 23, 10 a.m.: Allure of the Seas departed Sunday afternoon from Fort Lauderdale on its next cruise as originally scheduled.
(April 22, 4:30 p.m. EDT) -- Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas arrived back in Fort Lauderdale early Sunday morning as scheduled after a short-lived fire broke out at 7:45 Friday evening in the engine room aboard the world's largest cruise ship.
Royal Caribbean tells Cruise Critic that nobody on the 5,400-passenger vessel was injured, and the next sailing will leave on time Sunday evening. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
According to accounts from several members on the Cruise Critic message boards, the ship had to change course briefly on its way from St. Maarten to Fort Lauderdale to keep smoke from blowing back inside the vessel.
Member vr6glidriver, whose parents are onboard, said they texted, "Please keep your ears open for any info. We have a fire in the number 2 engine room (This is not a drill)."
DJDaveS shared this, sent from his cousin who is currently sailing on Allure: "Black smoke billowing out of the top stacks - we had to change direction for a bit to make the smoke not come into the ship (although we could smell it!)"
Meanwhile, ChipLondon had this to say of his first-hand experience: "I am on board The Allure, yes there was a small fire in one of the engine rooms, that caused some smoke smell around the back end of the ship. There was no visible smoke in passenger areas. I was dining at the Chefs Table at the time and we were asked to move from the area for about 20 minutes, whilst the extract fans did their job. There was NO panic around the ship, a couple of youngsters showed concern, and some parents went to meet up with family members."
However, member Jaxchamp disagrees: "Just got off the Allure and I have to disagree that there was NO panic. The crew were visibly scared as we're many of the passengers. ...The crew were trying very hard to appear in control and they did a good job, but you could see them passing notes to each other and the concern on their faces. We were finished our dinner, but skipped out on desert because I really couldn't eat much after hearing Bravo bravo bravo and water tight doors closing."
"We could see that there was no power from the engines as it appeared we were drifting - this occurred for at least an hour maybe two," says k9webster of the view from the AquaTheater deck. "Auxiliary power was running as at no time did the power, lights, air conditioning or water go out."
This incident is just the latest in a string of recent cruise ship engine problems. Last week, Saga Holidays' Saga Sapphire cut its inaugural cruise short due to engine troubles. Two weeks ago, Plancius, an ice-class vessel operated by the Dutch company Oceanwide Expeditions, suffered a partial engine failure and stranded its 73 passengers and 42 crew on a South Atlantic island. In March, Azamara Quest suffered an engine room fire that injured five crewmembers and left the ship adrift off the southern Philippines coast. In February, an engine fire left Costa Allegra inert in the Indian Ocean. Cunard's flagship, Queen Mary 2, has also been plagued with engine troubles over the past year.
--by Ashley Kosciolek, Copy Editor