Star Princess

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Star Princess in Jamaica
Name: Star Princess
Owner: Carnival Corporation & plc
Operator: Princess Cruise Line
Port of registry: 22x20px Bermuda
Builder: Fincantieri in Monfalcone, Italy
Yard number: 6051
Launched: 10 May 2001
Completed: 25 January 2002
In service: 2002
Identification: Call Sign:ZCDD6
IMO number: 9192363
General characteristics
Class and type: Grand class cruise ship
Tonnage: 109,000 gross tons
Length: 951 feet (290 m)
Beam: 118 feet (36 m)
Decks: 17 Decks
Speed: 22.5 knots service speed
24 knots max
Capacity: 2,600 passengers
Crew: 1,150 crew

The Star Princess is a Grand-class cruise ship, operated by Princess Cruises. Star Princess is a sister ship to Grand Princess and the Golden Princess.

An earlier ship of the same name is now operating as the Ocean Village. Star Princess was built by Fincantieri in Monfalcone, Italy in 2002, and has hull number 6051. Star Princess differs slightly in upper deck layout from her predecessors, having an extra plunge pool (and one less hot tub) at the stern (deck 15) and with the deletion of the "Off Limits" teenagers' hot tub & sunbathing area featured further forward on her predecessors.

Another ship of similar design, Caribbean Princess, was subsequently built, featuring an additional deck of cabins ("Riviera Deck") to accommodate more passengers.

The Fire

On 23 March 2006, at about 3 am, a fire broke out in the passenger compartments, amidships, on the port side of the ship.[1] Shortly after, the captain sounded the General Emergency Signal—seven short blasts followed by one long blast on the ship's whistle, which woke passengers up all over the ship. Passengers went to muster stations and evacuees were combined into groups, then stationed in cramped rooms for about seven hours. Some passengers who needed regular medication required crew members to go into their suites and retrieve their medication.

Passengers evacuated their cabins into public areas through smoky hallways, grabbing their life jackets on the way. The evacuation was reportedly orderly, in contrast to deadlier fires such as those on the Morro Castle and Yarmouth Castle.[2] Lifeboats were lowered, but proved to be unnecessary, as the fire was contained and doused, and the ship headed into Montego Bay under her own power.

The fire was probably caused by a cigarette left burning on a balcony, which had become hot enough to melt the balcony divides made from plastic polycarbonate, a material that had been approved by international cruise line safety rules. The fire caused scorching damage in up to 150 cabins, and smoke damage in at least 100 more on passenger decks 9 to 12 (Dolphin, Caribe, Baja and Aloha decks). A passenger, Richard Liffidge, 72, of Georgia, died from "asphyxia secondary to inhalation of smoke and irrespirable gases" and thirteen other passengers suffered significant smoke inhalation.

While a smouldering discarded cigarette probably did cause the flames, the following items were also at fault for allowing the fire to spread as quickly as it did:

  • The balconies’ polycarbonate partitions, polyurethane deck tiles, and the plastic furniture were highly combustible and produced large quantities of very thick black smoke when burned.
  • The glass in the doors between the staterooms and balconies was neither fire retardant, to meet with the requirements of an ‘A’ class division, nor self-closing.
  • The balconies crossed main zone fire boundaries, both horizontally and vertically, and were without structural or thermal barriers at the zone or deck boundaries.
  • No fire detection or fire suppression systems were fitted on the balconies.

The aftermath

File:Star Princess repairs Bremerhaven 2006 1.jpg
The Star Princess in Bremerhaven, showing the portside with scaffolding

Passengers were evacuated to hotels in Jamaica and subsequently were flown home. The ship was en route from Grand Cayman to Montego Bay, Jamaica, after departing Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 19 March 2006. With 79 cabins destroyed and a further 204 damaged, the ship was moved to the Bahamas where she was prepared for a transatlantic crossing to Bremerhaven, Germany for repairs. Her remaining Caribbean cruises and a transatlantic cruise were cancelled, with the anticipation that she would begin her summer season in the Baltic mid-May.

The ship was repaired at the Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven, set sail again on the 13 May 2006[3] and resumed its regular service on the 15 May from Copenhagen.[4]. Passengers reported that the only noticeable differences were a strong smell of new carpeting, the addition of sprinklers to all balconies and the replacement of plastic furniture with non-combustible alternatives.

The Star Princess docked in Skagway, Alaska


External links

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