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If you are taking a cruise this year, the last thing you’re probably worried about is suffering injury in a fire. After all, you’ll be surrounded by water!

However, cruise fires do happen, and they can be dangerous if they get out of control because there’s nowhere to escape to on a ship.

In this post, we’re going to discuss how and where cruise fires commonly happen, and what you can expect if your ship experiences a fire.

The Risk of Cruise Fires

In the past 20 years, 72 reported fires have occurred on cruise ships. Since thousands of cruise ships set sail each year, the risk of experiencing a cruise fire is relatively low.

That being said, it’s important to key into one specific word in that last paragraph: reported. Over the years, cruise ships have been notorious for underreporting dangerous incidents unless they truly can’t be ignored, so it’s possible that the real number of cruise ship fires is actually much higher.

How do fires happen?

Most cruise fires are caused by mechanical malfunctions, and they can lead to a loss of electrical power depending on where the fire is located on the ship. If a ship loses power and is forced to use its auxiliary generator system, many of the systems on board will lose power.

This includes toilets, ventilation, and other essentials. If a cruise ship has a significant fire, it can cause a loss of hot water, air conditioning, and refrigeration, and it could even pose a threat to the sanitation system.

In extreme cases, the ship could lose engine power. This scenario could pose a serious risk if the ship is far from port or if severe weather rolls in. Passengers may need to be evacuated at sea.

Recent Cruise Fires to Know About

Even though cruise fires are rare, recent cases like the ones below have wreaked havoc for passengers.


The Oceania Insignia experienced an engine room fire that resulted in the death of one crew member and two contractors.


The Carnival Triumph had an engine room fire while sailing near the Yucatan Peninsula. The fire was extinguished by the automatic sprinkler systems. No injuries or deaths occurred.


Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas experienced an engine room fire while sailing in the Caribbean Sea. The ship’s sprinkler system immediately extinguished the fire, and no one was injured or killed.


The MS Nordlys had an engine room fire while sailing in Norway. Nine people were treated for injuries, and two crew members lost their lives.


The Carnival Splendor lost all power when a fire broke out in an engine room. The ship had to be towed to San Diego since the power could not be restored. The U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard assisted the passengers and ship crew. No one experienced injuries.

Reasons for Cruise Fires

Different problems cause fires like the ones described above. Mechanical failure is the most common reason. When the fire heats up, it can melt electrical cables, which causes the power to fail. Other reasons are poor cable insulation, outdated equipment, and ineffective fire suppression systems.

Cruise Fire INjury Lawyer

Another contributing factor is the lack of regular inspections. With many new ships being built each year in a quickly growing industry, there aren’t enough inspectors to monitor the potential problems on all ships setting sail. If a ship is not inspected on a timely basis, problems can get missed and accidents can occur.

If you experience an injury due to a cruise fire, you may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit if the first was a result of another party’s negligence. You should not be responsible for your medical expenses, loss of income, and other expenses if the fire was someone else’s fault. Consult with a cruise ship attorney to protect your rights and seek compensation.


About the Author: 

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented cruise victims who have suffered all kinds of injuries and illnesses due to negligence. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.