Fire hits Cunard's attempts to repair its battered image
James Cusick is political correspondent of The Independent and The Independent on Sunday. As an experienced member of the lobby, he has previously worked at The Sunday Times and the BBC. His career as a journalist has been split between print and television, including senior positions as producer with Sir David Frost and at BBC Newsnight. He is also an award-winning golf and travel writer, working for over a decade as the UK contributing editor for one of the USA’s leading golf magazines. He broadcasts regularly for the BBC and CNN. He lives in London.
Wednesday 28 February 1996
The cruise owners Cunard, whose business suffered badly with the QE2's 1994 "voyage from hell", have again run into trouble, this time with a liner cruising the South China Seas.
After fire broke out on Monday in the generator area of the luxury cruise ship Sagafjord, nearly 500 passengers - 56 of them Britons - have had their paradise holiday disrupted.
Yesterday tugs were continuing to tow the stricken liner to the Philippines. A Cunard statement insisted: "Weather conditions remain calm, the ship is in no danger."
By late tomorrow the towing operation is expected to be completed, with the vessel taken to a former naval base at Subic Bay and the passengers taken to accommodation, probably in Manila.
Although the fire was confined to the generator room, the vessel has been without its main source of electrical power for three days. Without a functioning generator, the ship's engines and its propeller cannot function. All areas of the ship are being run on auxiliary power.
The 25,000-ton Sagafjord was en route between Hong Kong and Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia during a scheduled 102-day world cruise. After Malaysia the luxury cruise was to take in Singapore.
Norman McDonalds, of Jardine Davies Transport Services, Cunard's agent in Manila, quoted the Norwegian captain, Tore Lura, as saying the passengers were "doing fine, not too bad". He said engineers were working to restore the ship's power.
During the voyage to the Philippines, passengers will be interviewed by Cunard staff and asked whether they want to continue with the world cruise or fly home. The company said "compensation packages are being devised".
The 102-day voyage began at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on 4 January with the Sagafjord due to return there on 13 April.
The liner entered service in October 1965 and was purchased by Cunard in 1983. She was last refurbished in 1993 and is normally based on the west coast of America. This year was to be her last before being withdrawn from regular passenger work.
For Cunard the fire may prove to be another public relations disaster, coming after the QE2's "voyage from hell" which resulted in the company paying out millions in compensation.
- 1 Malaysian cyclist could face disciplinary action after 'Save Gaza' gloves protest
- 2 Is Gideon Levy the most hated man in Israel or just the most heroic?
- 3 McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
- 4 Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
- 5 Satellite full of sexually experimental geckos adrift in space, Russia loses control of mission
Israel-Gaza conflict: Israeli targeting policy under scrutiny after shellfire hits a mother and child, a school full of refugees and a doctor’s home
Iraq crisis: Isis orders Mosul shop keepers to cover mannequins
Comic Con 2014 attendees
Students offered grants if they tweet pro-Israeli propaganda
McDonald’s removes chicken nuggets from the menu in Hong Kong amid major food scare
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Arizona execution lasts two hours as killer Joseph Wood left 'snorting and gasping' for air
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
£600 - £650 per day: Orgtel: Conduct Risk Liaison Manager - Banking - London -...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - COMMERCIAL LITIGATION - GLOBAL...
£65000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: The client is a...
£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A well-established software house ba...