The Carnival Liberty cruise ship suffered a fire in its engine room while it was tied up Monday to the West Indian Co. Ltd. dock on St. Thomas. The U.S. Coast Guard said that the cruise ship’s automated fire suppression systems extinguished the fire. The cause has not been determined.
No injuries were reported in the 11:45 a.m. fire.
As of 9 p.m., the ship was still at the WICO dock and when it would leave had not yet been determined, a Carnival press release indicated. It said that a team of experts was in the process of conducting a deeper technical assessment of the affected engine room. The assessment was expected to be done Tuesday morning.
Carnival indicated the crew was allowed to reboard at 5:30 p.m. and passengers at 8 p.m.
All hotel facilities including air conditioning, elevators, toilets and galleys were fully functional, Carnival said.
When the fire broke out, all 3,346 passengers and nonessential crew were evacuated. The ship has a crew of 1,150 people.
Tourism Department spokeswoman Luana Wheatley said, “Some are at Sugar Bay and some are at the Marriott,” referring to Dreams Sugar Bay St. Thomas Resort and Spa and Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort.
Wheatley said around 7 p.m. that the passengers and crew were in the hotels’ conference facilities.
“We are helping to facilitate a comfortable situation for the passengers,” she said.
Wheatley said Tourism had staff on the scene.
The V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency’s VI-Alert system sent out an alert that urged boaters to avoid the dock because of the fire. It was the only ship in port.
According to an early Monday evening press release from the Coast Guard, marine safety investigators and inspectors from Marine Safety Detachment St. Thomas were on scene with the Carnival Liberty to assess the damage and determine cause of the fire.
The Liberty was on the second day of a seven-day cruise that left San Juan on Sunday.
A WICO press release indicated that – because of outstanding inter-governmental cooperation, along with the generosity and quick response of private businesses – passengers were kept cool under tents; received water, ice and food; were transported to an adjacent resort while waiting for clearance to board; and were kept up to date on the ship’s status and departure time.
WICO President Joseph B. Boschulte said, “We appreciate the rapid response assistance by the V.I. Fire Department, the V.I. Police Department, the V.I. Port Authority and VITEMA, the Coast Guard and the entire WICO team, who implemented our emergency action plan.”
Members of St. Thomas Rescue and V.I. Emergency Medical Services also were on hand to assist with any medical emergencies, the WICO press release indicated.
No one from the Carnival media office returned a call left Monday afternoon.