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  #31 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2006, 06:33 AM
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The Cruise Guy wrote:
If ALL cruiselines prohibited smoking entirely they would loose 2/3rds to 3/4ths of there now traveling clients.
I can only assume that he must himself be a smoker otherwise he would not have got his statistics completely round the wrong way
The latest set of figures for the U.S. re 2003 show that 21.5% of adults smoke and the same statistics relating to the U.K. for 2006 show 25%.
So if the cruise lines decided to ban smoking except in designated areas their maximum passenger loss would be around 20% even if all smokers got so p...ed off that they completely give up cruising which just is not going to happen. The remaining 80% (which happens to be a fairly large majority) would be over the moon.
It's happened in aircraft, it's happened throughout Europe and it's even happened in California. Make no mistakes - it's going to happen in cruising - it is simply a case of WHEN. This tragic accident, whether or not caused by a cigarette, will simply hasten the decision.
Cheers. Paul
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Old March 26th, 2006, 09:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Cruise Guy
OK, Costa is non-smoking, they have many itineraies. Soooooooo, for you non-smokers, theres your cruise line. If ALL cruiselines prohibited smoking entirely they would loose 2/3rds to 3/4ths of there now traveling clients. Yes you will have an abundant choice of cruises because they will only be about 1/4 full. Of course to make up the lost revenue of smokers your $500 inside cabin on a 7 day cruise will now cost you $2000 to $2500. BUT YOU WILL BE SMOKE FREE.
Love to know where you get your stats Cruise Guy not like any numbers Ive ever heard
Btw the same "logic" was quoted when smoking was banned an all restaurants and bars they were all going out of business!
Didn't happen!!
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Old March 26th, 2006, 10:37 AM
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Costa is not smoke free!!!! I cruised them last year in Europe and they were MANY smokers aboard!
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2006, 12:59 PM
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We were on the Star Princess the week previous to the fire.
We were in B-307 (starboard side) which is a balcony cabin.
We spent an hour or so everyday relaxing on the balcony while in route to other islands. During these times I noticed that the construction of the balconies are primarily metal with some privacy glass. Which appeared fairly fireproof to me.
The deck chairs, tables, and floor mats are a hard plastic that could burn, but it would have to be a damn hot fire to get that plastic to ignite.
There are pads on some of the chairs and many people leave their towels out there to dry. So it may be possible for a cigarette to cause this fire.
As previous posters have stated, everything that is thrown off the upper decks falls onto the balconies below and rarely if ever reaches the water.
The wind from the ship as it moves can stoke a small fire into a big one if there are enough things to burn. If the paint is flammable it could spread the fire fairly quickly.
Additional heat and fire can be generated as the heat and fire shorts out the outside lights over the balconies. So I guess it's not so inconceivable for lone a cigarette to wreak so much damage.
I’ve been a oil worker/fireman for 17 years and I know once a fire gets big enough it can generate enough heat to auto ignite and/or melt just about anything in its path until its is either cooled or runs out of a source of fuel to keep it going.
My job requires endless amounts safety training, so when we first got on the ship and we were compelled to do the muster drill, my first thought was “what a waste of my vacation time?. Now in hindsight that half hour of what I felt was wasted vacation time may have saved many lives that night.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev22:17
Irish Shark,

Yup, there are many things that do not add up here. Yes, the sprinklers should have gone off as well as the fire alarm.

The problem here is that the sprinklers and the sensors for the alarms were inside the cabins, while the fire was outside.
I will say it again, that is still speculation on some folk's part just like the cigarette thing.

Early reports said that it started on a balcony, but did it really? When the final investigation report is published, I'll read it and make my conclusions basaed on the evidence that they present.

Since a lot of folks here are speculating, I'll toss one out there. There was an accelerant involved to generate that intense heat and fast spreading fire. The cause of the fire - electrical malfunction.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 05:14 PM
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can't beleave cigerette caused this much of a fire, even if it landed on a balconey what would burn from a small source even if it landed on a towel or clothes, something not being told, it could take 3 hours to account for 2500+ passengers even if they were all at there muster stations, just reading all those name would take that long with all the other confusion at hand.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 05:59 PM
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Exactly.
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  #38 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2006, 07:56 PM
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If a cigarette was the cause of the fire [we don't know anything confirmed yet] the smoking/non-smoking issue is a little weak. How many passengers sailed in the last 20 years? How many ships? cabins? How many ships caught fire? The statistics just aren't there to back up whether smoking should be banned. I see a lot of the officers on the ships smoking so, I really doubt if they would ban it, it was a disaster with Carnival paradise, they were losing so much revenue when they had it as a non-smoking ship. It will not happen.
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Old March 26th, 2006, 10:01 PM
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Amen to that, all the non-smokers couldent even keep one ship sailing much less every ship in every fleet. It won't happen. The reality is non-smokers will still sail, smokers will not. One non-smoker in a previous post said he was going on a cruise next year. Well I'm sure that will make the cruiseline solvent for another year. Point is this non-smokers don't generate the revenue that smokers do and the non-smokers will sail weather it is a smoking ship or not.
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  #40 (permalink)  
Old March 26th, 2006, 11:04 PM
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Irish Shark,

I will say it again, that is still speculation on some folk's part just like the cigarette thing.

We agree on that. In fact, I made that very point in an earlier post in this thread.

Early reports said that it started on a balcony, but did it really?

I understand that the experts identify the place where a fire starts in a very early stage in an investigation and use that information to identify possible sources of ignition, etc. Thus, I see no reason to doubt the veracity of this statement in the most recent reports.

When the final investigation report is published, I'll read it and make my conclusions basaed on the evidence that they present.

So will we all. Nonetheless, I don't see any reason not to state what's obvoius from the information at hand.

There was an accelerant involved to generate that intense heat and fast spreading fire.

If one regards the fuels carried aboard the ship as accelerants, the involvement of an accelerant seems very likely as not much else would have generated enough heet to melt the steel decks of the balconies. Of course, one cannot discount the possiblity that the presence of an accelerant was the work of an arsonist yet.

The cause of the fire - electrical malfunction.

That's certainly plausible, but it seems unlikely.

Norm.
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  #41 (permalink)  
Old March 27th, 2006, 02:16 AM
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An Accellerant from a product/fuel line is a highly unlikely source or contributor of that fire. Considering there are no such lines on the outer bulkhead of these vessels. Passenger ships in particular are designed so that these types of lines are routed in pipeway areas within the bulkhead to minimize and contain any environmental spills. And routed for the safety of its passengers and its crew.
The only pipes I saw on the outer bulkhead were ordinary drainage pipes.
These ships primarily use diesel fuel to power their engines and generate electricity. Lubricating oil would be used to maintain the equipment.
These product both have a high flash points and low autoignition temperatures, thus are less volatile. You could actually throw a lit cigarette in a puddle of each it would go out.
Although once either product gets hot enough they burn and smoke like crazy, and once these products burn they leave an unmistakable residue and odor.
My best guess would be that if a cigarette or candle wasn't the source of ignition it was likely an electrical short.
Generally with this type of fire it will spread away from the point of ignition the way the wind blows and in a natural upward pattern. (as long as there is something to fuel it).
It shouldn't be too difficult for the investigators to figure out where it started and what the source of the fire was.
Never the less, some governmental entity that regulates passenger ships will go over every inch of it to assure its origin, and check for any design flaws that could have aided in its spread.
As far as banning smoking except in designated areas, I live in California and have experience first hand the inevitable changes smokers must endure to continue their habit. The bar patronage fell off initially but managed to survive and thrive, as will the cruise ships if a ban is warranted
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  #42 (permalink)  
Old March 27th, 2006, 04:29 AM
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Having traveled on two of the sister ships ,Caribbean and Golden I find the story of a cigarette starting this fire implausible. Having had cabins in this area on both ships, I can't imagine a fag end being able to produce enough heat in order to set either the flooring, furniture or paint alight.

Having seen some of this type of furniture with long burn marks on them, indicating not just an end, but a substantial part of the cigarette. I also noticed that quite often while at sea the balconies are quite damp at night narrowing the possiblity even more.

However the one thing I did notice is that there are several electrical cables and junction boxes all along the sides. Now if there were a short in one of them, it would very easily create enough heat to cause that fire.

What I find really strange is that with a few balconies on fire no one on the bridge noticed, or anyone on deck? Do they not look down the sides of the ship? I would think the brightness of the flames at night would have caused someone to casually walk over and look outside. But then again, maybe that is how they did spot it.

Cheers,
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  #43 (permalink)  
Old March 27th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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:o I am amazed by the interest this single news event has generated over a period of only 5 days. At this time there has been more than 2,682 viewings. This would seem to suggest that for whatever reason, this onboard fire has definitely struck a chord. Perhaps the link for those who have previously sailed is the thought... but for the grace of god go I... or, for those thinking about taking that first cruise, is this something I should rethink

Regardless, it is in a forum such as this where contributors (like you & me) can and do electronically assemble to discuss a wide range of topics. Obviously, as mere mortals (myself included) participating in this discussion, few of us can lay claim to being expert or sufficiently informed enough to authoritatively comment on the actual cause. Having said that, it would seem to me we should sustain this debate while being ever mindful of the need to be respectful of, and receptive to, the different opinions of the contributors. Having said that, and most importantly because others like myself in fact grew up in a Western democracy that suscribes to free speech, everyone surely has a right to express her or his opinion.

It is for that reason (the right to freely comment and express opinions) that I find the postings submitted thus far to be most interesting. Probably without exception, not one of the respondents can claim to be on the inside beltway in this debate. If that assumption on my part is even remotely true, I for one want to hear from all sides without their fear of being chastised or otherwise having their views challenged in a threatening or otherwise intimidating way. After all, is personal comment or opinion not what most people offer upon hearing breaking news on something that especially interests or affects them? We would all do well to remember that while we may have different perspectives at this time as to how this fire particular started, it is inappropriate to snuff-out the current firestorm of interest and idle specualtion on the subject. Any fire on board a ship at sea is a public safety issue and debating the possible or potential cause is (to me at least) equally important to knowing how to prevent a similar fire from happening again. Please keep up the good work 8) .
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  #44 (permalink)  
Old March 27th, 2006, 10:39 AM
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The more I think about this the more I find the cigarette thoery implausable.

I sailed on the sister ship the CB and had a balcony and IIRC I cant think of one thing that was combustable on the balcony that wasnt passenger brought.

IIRC The floor was covered in a plastic mat and the chairs and table were the plastic kind you get for you patio for like $15 at Home Depot.

If a fire on the balcony managed to ignite those plastic things there would a lot of black smoke which would account for all the smoke damage on the outside.

The only way I can see this happening is through a complete freak of events where someone tossed a cigarette and it landed on a balcony where someone was drying beach towels or swimsuits AND that cabin also had its balcony door open which allowed the fire to spread to the interior of the cabin.

I cant see this happening without an oben balcony door somewhere either at or near the place of the initial fire. There is just nothing on the balcony to burn and no way that a fire could become intense enough to impinge into a cabin with its baclony door closed. Inside the cabin is the only place that would have enough fuel load to cause a significant fire.

Lets not get all hysterical here and start walking smokers off the plank.

R
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  #45 (permalink)  
Old March 27th, 2006, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fieldmouse
Plu-ease! You can be sure not all of us are as diplomatic as you where our personal or family safety is concerned. No one is asking for extreme unreasonable measures...but some common sense!

If there is a fire at sea...it's not like you can run out of the ship the same as you would a burning building. How many tragedies do we need? Really, isn't one enough for a wake up call? Or does the lesson we need to learn only gain importance the more that suffer? Is that the way we really want to learn?

If it was your family member that died, or was injured...or your possesions that were lost in the fire...and you found out that all this grief that affected YOU PERSONALLY was caused by a careless smoker...would that be enough for you to want something positive done to prevent this from happening again?
We all face risks from all sorts of things everyday. If we start banning anything that could possibly cause us danger, life as we know it would change forever. Fire at sea is certainly a scary thing and cruiselines are right in banning any item that poses an unacceptable risk, however the fact that thousands of sailings occur each year and that this is the first cigarette-caused fire in recent memory tells us that the risk from cigarettes is so small as to be statistically insignificant.

It may seem that banning smoking would be an easy way to make cruiseships safer, but in fact, it would be nothing more than a "feel good" measure and it would drastically change cruising as we know it. Carnival already proved with the failure of the Paradise that the industry is not yet ready for even one smoke-free ship. How do you expect them to survive with 100's of such ships? Better question, exactly how much are you willing to pay for your next cruise? Lose the smokers (and the family and friends that sail with them) and you may be surprised to find that you can no longer afford to cruise.

Rather than approaching this problem with the knee-jerk reaction to ban smoking, it would do much more to improve safety to analyze how this fire was handled and what could be improved upon in the future. Why did it take so long to account for all the passengers? Why did the fire spread to so many cabins so quickly (perhaps fire alarms and sprinklers are needed on the balconies)?

By the way, I am a non-smoker.
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  #46 (permalink)  
Old March 27th, 2006, 01:27 PM
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langcar.

An Accellerant from a product/fuel line is a highly unlikely source or contributor of that fire. Considering there are no such lines on the outer bulkhead of these vessels.

Actually, there are fuel lines to the davits for refueling the ship's boats. I'm not sure how they are configured, so I cannot discount the possibility that fuel from one of those lines might have sprayed -- perhaps aided by wind -- onto the balconies where the fire occurred. Of course, the suggestion of this possibility is just speculation on my part so let's all resist the temptation to turn it into a rumor on the GossipNet....

Passenger ships in particular are designed so that these types of lines are routed in pipeway areas within the bulkhead to minimize and contain any environmental spills. And routed for the safety of its passengers and its crew.

Yes, to the extent that such is possible. The fueling stations, both to take on fuel and to refuel the ship's boats, obviously require hull penetrations somewhere.

The only pipes I saw on the outer bulkhead were ordinary drainage pipes.

yes, but you also cannot discount the possibility that an accelerant somehow got into a drain line that ruptured.

These ships primarily use diesel fuel to power their engines and generate electricity. Lubricating oil would be used to maintain the equipment.

Not so fast. The ship's boats typically use MoGas (essentially gasoline). Also, some cruise ships use gas turbines. which run on JP-5, as their prime movers and some marine diesels run on JP-5, partly because it burns cleaner (less emissions and less soot) and partly because it provides a "single fuel" solution for a fleet that also has gas turbines. Of course, these fuels are so volatile that they would evaporate almost immediately if spilled or sprayed.

Generally with this type of fire it will spread away from the point of ignition the way the wind blows and in a natural upward pattern. (as long as there is something to fuel it).

An electrical short should have tripped circut breakers (yes, probably several...), cutting off the current before much of a fire got started, so this also seems unlikely. That said, it still does not answer the question of what fueled the fire and burned so hot that it melted the decks of the balconies. It's not as clear in the photos that I have seen on line as it was in the shots of the affected area on television, but the balconies in the area of the fire are completely gone -- which means that the steel decks either melted or ignited.

It shouldn't be too difficult for the investigators to figure out where it started and what the source of the fire was.
Never the less, some governmental entity that regulates passenger ships will go over every inch of it to assure its origin, and check for any design flaws that could have aided in its spread.


Both the U. S. Coast Guard and British authorities are already onboard, conducting a full investigatin.

Norm.
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  #47 (permalink)  
Old March 27th, 2006, 01:48 PM
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Snowbird,

I am amazed by the interest this single news event has generated over a period of only 5 days. At this time there has been more than 2,682 viewings.

I'm not surprised. A fire at sea is one of the worst possible casualties that a ship can have. It can claim the lives of all passengers and crew aboard a vessel.

Obviously, as mere mortals (myself included) participating in this discussion, few of us can lay claim to being expert or sufficiently informed enough to authoritatively comment on the actual cause.

Some of us undoubtedly have more knowledge and experience than others. As a former naval officer with a fairly solid knowledge of ship design, engineering, maintenance, and damage control, I can tell that several other posters in this thread also know from whence they are speaking.

Probably without exception, not one of the respondents can claim to be on the inside beltway in this debate.

That's true. We're more like the retired colonels and generals who appear as commentators and subject experts on the television news. We don't have knowledge of all the details of the incident, but we know enough about ships and shipboard systems to read between the lines and to grasp the implications of what's said in the official releases. Perhaps there's also an element of knowing where to look for relevant details when we see the photographs and the televised footage of the damaged vessel.

Any fire on board a ship at sea is a public safety issue and debating the possible or potential cause is (to me at least) equally important to knowing how to prevent a similar fire from happening again.

I'm sure that the experts will do everything possible to improve safety at sea based upon what they learn from this incident. As I noted in an earlier post, we probably will see changes to the SOLAS treaty to require fire sensors and sprinklers on the exteriors of ships, or at least in recesses such as balconies on passenger cabins, for example, but it will take some time for the political process to work this out.

I'm most anxious to hear what the official investigation uncovers. There's much that we don't know as yet, beginning with the cause of the fire.

Norm.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 01:54 PM
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Norm, I am almost 100% positive that there was an accellerant involved. Depending on what it was, a single spark from an electrical short could have ignighted it - instantly. Breakers would not prevent it.

If you had a gas leak in your house and you flip on the light switch. That house would instantly be blow to pieces with one horrific fire resulting from the gas explosion. No breaker is going to stop that.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 01:58 PM
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Russell,

Lets not get all hysterical here and start walking smokers off the plank.

Hmmm....

[tongue in cheek]

The smoking bans have become so convoluted, at least here in Massachusetts, that it's often difficult to figure out where smoking is permitted and where smoking is forbidden. Thus, I propose a simplification that would reduce smoking bans to just three.

>> 1. Since cigarettes and other smoking matierals are a burn hazard in an accident or in event of unexpected movement, as well as a potential source of distraction to the operator that may cause an accident, there shall be no smoking in any vehicle, vessel, or other conveyance.

>> 2. Since cigarettes and other smoking materials can ignite dried vegetation, causing serous fies, there shall be no smoking anywhere out of doors.

>> 3. Since tobacco smoke causes cancer and other medical conditions, and thus is a hazard to all who breathe it, there shall be no smoking inside of any building or other structure.

There, much simpler!

[/tongue in cheek]

But given the nature of the hazard posed by any fire at sea, walking the plank really would be an appropriate punishment for those who violate a ship's rules on smoking....

Norm.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 03:09 PM
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I've been looking at the ships photo of all the damage and must say, a little concerned, especially if my family was on that ship. We were on the Sun Princess this past November and for the first time, we all mustered in the ships lounge verses the muster stations underneath the life boats. It took quite some time for everyone to get in and seated and even longer to exit.

So, at what point were they considering lowering the life boats a putting passenger on them? If you look at the pictures, there are several life boats and rafts directly below the fire. If the fire kept on spreading downwards, you wouldn't be able to get on the boats and several passengers wouldn't have a way off the ship. Even so, you wouldn't want to be at the loadings station with the fire above you with hot metal burning. The boats should of been lowered and taken to the other side of the ship as a precaution before the fire got that bad. As you know, everyone sitting in that lounge didn't have a clue how bad things were getting. If it took several hours to locate everyone, how long would it take to get everyone off? What kaos whould there of been if you lost all the life boats under the fire and had strand several hundred passengers because of it. That fire spread fast and this really concerns me.
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Old March 27th, 2006, 09:35 PM
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Norm,
Did a little research, and the Star uses four V-16 and two V-12 Wartsila ZA40S medium speed diesel engines which use Low Sulfer Heavy Fuel Oil. This fuel is actually a little heavier/thicker than commercial grade diesel.
The generators are powered by waste heat boilers that gather heat to boil the steam from the diesel engines exhaust. We have these type of power generator were I work but we use natural gas furnaces to heat the water.
Given this information I am mystified as to what type of accelerant if any could have aided in this fire?
Its pretty tough to light this stuff off without a significant heat source.
Its really tough playing the novice detective online, kind of like a blind man trying to read without Braille.
I am truly intrigued by the size and intensity of this fire.

Regards, Langcar
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Old March 28th, 2006, 04:04 AM
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I think the fuel that Norm was referring to was for the life boats. There are refueling pipes near them, and they would use either gasoline or diesel.

Cheers,
Peter
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Old March 28th, 2006, 08:55 AM
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An an ex-Navy guy and an ex-hotel employee, I'm amazed at how well this went. Imagine getting everyone evacuated at 3 a.m. when people are asleep with their doors locked, and getting such a large fire out in less than 20 minutes.

I have seen some footage of several cabins, and it's clear the sprinklers did go off. Why aren't there sprinklers on the balconies? Probably a concern about them freezing in really cold weather. I'll bet they install them now.

If all ships were non-smoking (which, I would guess they will be eventually), there would not be any decrease in cruising, or I miss my bet big time. That's the cry of restaurants when a city passes a non-smoking ordinance, and it hasn't happened yet. Smoking is a dying habit.

Costa non-smoking? All those Italians not smoking? That's hard to believe, but I haven't paid any attention to them, so maybe it's true. Call me skeptical.

Edit: OK, call me more than skeptical. Every bit of research I have done shows that Costa is not only not "non-smoking," but probably smokier, on average, than most other lines, due to a high European concentration.

More edit: If I were putting this event in a novel, I would write this as a deliberately set fire, with the sprinkler and alarm in the cabin tampered with. But the most flammable item outside any cabin is, of course, the paint on the ship.
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  #54 (permalink)  
Old March 28th, 2006, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrblanche
If all ships were non-smoking (which, I would guess they will be eventually), there would not be any decrease in cruising, or I miss my bet big time. That's the cry of restaurants when a city passes a non-smoking ordinance, and it hasn't happened yet. Smoking is a dying habit.
Restaurants are a bit different because they don't require the smoker to give up their cigarettes 24 hours a day for days at a time. That's something that most smokers just can't do.

I agree that cruiseships will probably someday be nonsmoking, I just don't think it's going to happen anytime soon. According to American Heart Association statistics, 24.1% of men and 19.2% of women still smoke. Hard to believe, but true. What business can afford to give up 20% of their customers? Consider the traveling companions that cruise with the smoker and cruiselines stand to lose alot more than just 20%. The cruiselines are not likely to ban smoking until it makes financial sense for them to do so, which isn't likely to be anytime soon.
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Old March 28th, 2006, 01:05 PM
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Admiral
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Massachusetts
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shipmate,

I've been looking at the ships photo of all the damage and must say, a little concerned, especially if my family was on that ship. We were on the Sun Princess this past November and for the first time, we all mustered in the ships lounge verses the muster stations underneath the life boats. It took quite some time for everyone to get in and seated and even longer to exit.

This casualty demonstrates that mustering in the ship's lounges, etc., really is the right approach. In this case, passengers mustered on deck would have been (1) directly at risk and (2) potentially in the way of the efforts to fight the fire.

So, at what point were they considering lowering the life boats a putting passenger on them?

In this casualty, it's pretty clear that there was no intention whatsoever to evacuate passengers from the ship because the fire was mostly outside of the vessel. Rather, it appears that the crew lowered the boats in the vicinity of the fire part way to get them away from the fire. There are, of course, two reasons for doing this -- first, to ensure that the boats did not become part of the fire and, second, to get the boats out of the way of efforts to fight the fire. JTOL, this action also might have improved access to combat any spread of the fire into the boats, had that occurred.

If the fire kept on spreading downwards, you wouldn't be able to get on the boats and several passengers wouldn't have a way off the ship.

If the fire had continued spreading downward, they would have put the crews in the affected boats, lowered the boats in the affected area into the water, and detached them if necessry to protect them.

Had evacuation of passengers become necessary, they would have evacuated ALL passengers on the port side of the ship -- away from the fire. The boats from the starboard side would have maneuvered around the ship to the port side to take on evacuated passengers and crew.

If it took several hours to locate everyone, how long would it take to get everyone off?

About ten minutes. There's a huge difference in scope between checking names off of a muster list and putting people into lifeboats on a "first come, first served" basis. When the chivalrous chief of the muster statoin says, "okay, women and children first, follow me!" and heads out the door, the passengers would follow very quickly -- probably five or six abreast.

What kaos whould there of been if you lost all the life boats under the fire and had strand several hundred passengers because of it.

First, it's unlikely that they would have come anywhere close to losng all of the lifeboats.

Even if they did, however, it would not be a problem. There are actually enough life boats and inflatable life rafts (in the cylindrical cannisters that you see in racks along the rail) on each side of the vessel to accommodate everybody.

The Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) standards are way ahead of you.

Norm.
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