Cruise ship passengers arrive in U.S. after fire

In this May 27 photo provided by passenger Marc Bell, passengers aboard the Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas cruise ship muster at sunrise after a fire broke out during the ship’s voyage from Baltimore to the Bahamas.

Marc Bell

BALTIMORE — Passengers whose cruise aboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas was cut short by an onboard fire began arriving back in Baltimore on charter flights from the Bahamas on Tuesday afternoon, with many praising the response of the company and crew.

“I’ll never go on any other cruise line,” said Craig Dzubak, 26, of Pittsburgh, who was on his first cruise. “They couldn’t have handled it any better.” He said he and his wife, Chelsea, were planning their next cruise while on the flight home.

Robert Alexander of Hamilton, N.J., said he was impressed by how well-prepared everyone on board was for emergencies. An actor from the ship’s theater made announcements to passengers after they were evacuated from their rooms, he said.

“It just shows the training they do,” Alexander said. “Our head waiter at our dinner table was one of the first responders” to the fire.

Meanwhile, the vice president of the Grand Bahama Shipyard said the ship would be repaired at his facility, though a full assessment of damage hadn’t been done yet.

“We are still working with the cruise line to assess the repairs, and I sent a crew over there this morning,” Reuben Byrd said Tuesday. “I’m assuming it will be a big job for us,” he added.

Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez did not immediately return phone calls or emails Tuesday afternoon about the repairs. Earlier, she said she had no updates on the incident or cause.

Byrd said the shipyard didn’t know about the cause, either. The U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board planned to investigate. NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said the agency has sent one senior investigator to the Bahamas. No other details about the investigation were available Tuesday.

The fire began at 2:50 a.m. Monday and was extinguished about two hours later, with no injuries reported. Photos show a substantial area of the stern burned on several decks of the ship the length of about three football fields.

The company in a statement on its website said it is “deeply sorry for this unexpected development in our guests’ vacation.