100 Britons caught in yet another cruise ship drama

Passengers endure hours of anxiety as boat drifts without power after fire breaks out on board

More than a 1,000 people, including 100 Britons, were involved in yet another high seas drama yesterday as a cruise ship was disabled and left to drift south of the Philippines after a fire on board. This is the latest mishap to befall an industry that has suffered a series of high-profile blows since mid-January, when the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy with the loss of more than 30 lives.

Further calamities followed in February when, during one weekend, three US cruise liners were forced back to port by outbreaks of the norovirus stomach bug. In the same month, a fire on the Costra Allegra left that ship without power and adrift for three days in the Indian Ocean in waters known to be prowled by pirates. And just two days ago, a Carnival Corp cruise ship was ordered to be held in a Texas port by a US judge in a $10m (£6.2m) lawsuit filed by the family of a German tourist who died aboard the Concordia.

In yesterday's incident, the luxury Azamara Quest had been on its way to Sandakan, in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah, when an engine room fire knocked out its power and left it adrift on the South China Sea.

The cruise liner had left Hong Kong on Monday for what was supposed to be a 17-day South-east Asian cruise. It was scheduled to make several stops in Indonesia, before arriving in Singapore on 12 April.

The ship had left Manila following a port stop on Thursday and was at sea when the fire broke out on Friday night. Flames engulfed one of the ship's engine rooms but were quickly extinguished. Five of the 411 crew members suffered smoke inhalation during the incident; one suffered prolonged heat and smoke exposure and was in a serious condition, said senior physician, Oliver Gilles.

But all 590 passengers – 100 of whom are British and one from Ireland – escaped unharmed. The stricken Azamara was eventually reached by rescue vessels yesterday afternoon. Engineers were able to restore electricity to re-establish the air conditioning, running water, plumbing, refrigeration and cooking facilities. Algier Ricafrente, a spokesman for the Philippines coastguard, said the engines had been repaired, power restored, and the ship had begun moving slowly towards Sandakan.

Among the British passengers on board were the parents of Sarah Robinson, 38, from Manchester. She received a call from her 75-year-old father and mother, 65, the morning after the accident assuring her they were unhurt. Ms Robinson said: "Dad came on the phone and he said 'Everything is fine. We're adrift in the South China Sea and we're not sure when we'll be back. We were having a gin and tonic in the cabin before dinner when the lights went out then a voice came over the Tannoy to say there'd been a fire but it was under control'.

"Then my mum came on the phone and said the crew had been amazing and were looking after them well."

Ms Robinson said the couple had already been offered a full refund and another holiday free of charge from Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, the firm that owns the Azamara. The company said in a statement: "On Friday, 30 March, at approximately 8.19pm ship time, Azamara Quest experienced a fire in the engine room. The fire was contained to the engine room and was quickly extinguished. However, in an abundance of caution, the captain initially mustered all guests at their assembly stations. The ship is currently running on generator power until full power can be restored to the engine room."

Royal Caribbean Cruises confirmed that the rest of the ship's voyage would be cancelled.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist / Physio / Osteopath

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for o...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager / Sales Executive - Contract Hire

£35000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leader provides c...

Recruitment Genius: Project Coordinator

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Coordinator is requir...

Recruitment Genius: Area Sales Manager - Midlands

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy
UK heatwave: Temperature reaches 39.8 degrees on Central Line - the sweatiest place in London

39.8 degrees recorded on Tube

There's hot (London) and too damn hot (the Underground). Simon Usborne braved the Central line to discover what its passengers suffer
Kitchens go hi-tech: From robot chefs to recipe-shopping apps, computerised cooking is coming

Computerised cooking is coming

From apps that automatically make shopping lists from your recipe books to smart ovens and robot chefs, Kevin Maney rounds up innovations to make your mouth water
Jessie Cave interview: The Harry Potter star has published a feminist collection of cartoons

Jessie Cave's feminist cartoons

The Harry Potter star tells Alice Jones how a one-night stand changed her life
Football Beyond Borders: Even the most distruptive pupils score at homework club

Education: Football Beyond Borders

Add football to an after-school homework club, and even the naughtiest boys can score
10 best barbecue books

Fire up the barbie: 10 best barbecue books

We've got Bibles to get you grilling and smoking like a true south American pro
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Junk balls and chop and slice are only way 5ft 1in Kurumi Nara can live with Petra Kvitova’s power
Ron Dennis exclusive: ‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

‘This is one of the best McLaren teams ever – we are going to do it’

Ron Dennis shrugs off a poor start to the season in an exclusive interview, and says the glory days will come back
Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most