NTSB to Assist in Cruise Ship Fire Investigation

Friday, March 24, 2006
The National Transportation Safety Board has sent an investigator to Jamaica to assist in the investigation of today's fire on board the Bermuda registered cruise ship Star Princess. The United Kingdom's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) will lead the investigation. "This is an important industry for the United States because every year millions of Americans enjoy their vacations on board cruise ships. We appreciate the opportunity to work closely with the MAIB in this investigation," said NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker. The NTSB will participate in the investigation under the provisions of the International Maritime Organization's Code for Investigation of Marine Casualties and Incidents. All information regarding the investigation will be released through the MAIB.

Princess Cruiselines issued the following statement on March 23: Star Princess is currently docked in Montego Bay following a fire aboard the ship early this morning as the ship was in transit between Grand Cayman and the Jamaican port as part of a seven-day voyage. The origin of the fire is still unknown, and Princess is cooperating fully with investigators from the U.S. Coast Guard and other regulatory agencies to determine the cause and assess the damage. We at Princess extend our deepest sympathy to the passengers and their families who were personally affected by the fire, in particular the family of the passenger who passed away, along with those passengers who experienced smoke inhalation injuries. This is the first time such a tragedy has occurred during the history of our company, and we are devastated by this incident. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the fire.

Following an assessment of the damaged cabins, we believe the best course of action is to terminate the current cruise in Montego Bay. All passengers currently onboard will be flown home over the next two days, and will receive a full refund of their cruise and air fare. In addition Princess will cover any out-of-pocket travel expenses our passengers may incur for this change of plans. We will also provide passengers with a future cruise credit equal to 25 percent of the cruise fare paid on this voyage. Passengers in the cabins affected by the fire -- which number approximately 100 -- will be provided accommodations at hotels ashore in Montego Bay tonight, and the other passengers will remain on the ship until their flights home over the next two days. The ship is safe and is fully operational and continues to provide passe

ngers with full services. The following cruise, scheduled to depart Fort Lauderdale on March 26, will also be cancelled. Over the course of the next few days we will fully assess damage caused by the fire and plan to make the necessary temporary repairs to enable the ship to maintain its onward schedule. A plan for the repairs to the affected cabins will also be drawn up, and passengers booked in those cabins will be advised as soon as possible of our forward plans.

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