Luxury Cruise Yacht Burns in Seattle, Declared a Loss

April 30, 2012
(3:35 p.m. EDT) -- The 12-passenger Safari Spirit, part of American Safari Cruises' fleet of Alaska-based luxury yachts, is the latest cruise vessel to suffer an onboard fire.

According to a company statement, the fire began at 1 a.m. on Friday, April 27, while the ship was docked at Fishermen's Terminal in Seattle, where it was undergoing general maintenance to ready it for its upcoming season of Alaska cruises. No one was harmed -- only two people were onboard, Dan Blanchard, CEO of American Safari Cruises, and an engineer/mate -- but Safari Spirit has been declared a "constructive loss" and will not be repaired.

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the fire.

"I was asleep in a stateroom when I heard popping noises," said Blanchard in a statement. "I quickly exited to the outside deck and woke up the engineer/mate sleeping onboard. We were both able to find our way safely to the dock and firefighters responded quickly. There were no injuries. The fuel tanks were not affected and there have been no spills reported."

Safari Spirit was scheduled to spend the summer season cruising Alaska's Inside Passage out of Juneau, beginning on May 11. The line is reaching out to passengers booked on the yacht to make alternate arrangements. Company spokeswoman Sarah Scoltock says that compensation is still being worked out. "We have space on other yachts so that would be the first choice, but it will be on a case by case basis," she told Cruise Critic in an e-mail.

This incident is just the latest in a string of recent cruise ship fires. The preceding Friday, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas experienced a short-lived fire in its engine room that cut power to the ship and necessitated a course change to keep smoke from blowing back into the ship. 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.

--by Erica Silverstein, Features Editor