By Greg Roumeliotis
ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands, Sept 8 (Reuters) – About 4,500 passengers and crew were stranded in the U.S. Virgin Islands for a second day after an engine fire on board a cruise ship operated by Carnival Corp.
The company said on Tuesday that a team of experts, including representatives of the U.S. Coast Guard, had boarded the Carnival Liberty to assess damage to the engine area. There were no injuries to guests or crew.
Passengers and crew were told to evacuate onshore on Monday after thick black smoke was seen rising from the ship while it was docked in St. Thomas, a Reuters reporter on board the vessel said. Staff distributed water and snacks in the port.
The fire was extinguished by the ship’s automated suppression system, Carnival said. The cause has yet to be determined and the company has yet to inform passengers of its plans beyond Tuesday.
The Carnival Liberty set sail from San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday with 3,346 guests and 1,150 crew on board, Carnival said. It was a day into a week-long Caribbean cruise when the fire broke out.
Passengers were transferred to nearby hotels, where movies were screened and a buffet was served before returning to spend the night on the ship. On Tuesday, every passenger was offered $150 credit to spend on board and free transportation into town.
The U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement that marine safety investigators were on the scene in St. Thomas to assess damage and to determine the cause of the fire.
Engine room fires have disrupted other cruises in recent years. In 2013, the Carnival Triumph was rendered out of service, leaving about 4,000 people adrift in the Gulf of Mexico without power or adequate sanitation. (http://reut.rs/1Ova1wR)
Later that year, a fire aboard a Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd ship forced it to dock at Freeport in the Bahamas.(http://reut.rs/1iuFPYw)
In 2010, an engine fire crippled the Carnival Splendor’s propulsion system and knocked out most of its power off the Pacific coast of Mexico. (Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; Writing by Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Robin Paxton)
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