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Funnel Fire on Carnival Freedom Cruise Ship After Possible Lightning Stike

Carnival Freedom fire
Funnel fire burned for nearly two hours after a possible lightning strike (Facebook posting)

Published Mar 23, 2024 8:26 PM by The Maritime Executive

 

Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Freedom experienced a funnel fire while the cruise ship was at sea in the Bahamas on March 23. The cruise line issued a brief statement reporting that there were no injuries and that the ship was operating normally while the cause of the fire was being investigated.

The 110,000 gross ton cruise ship is sailing on a 4-night cruise from Port Canaveral, Florida to the Bahamas and was at sea after canceling a call at the corporation’s private port called Princess Cays near Eleuthera in the Bahamas. The cruise line and passengers said stormy weather and rough seas had caused the cancelation of the port call.

The fire was reported at 3:15 p.m. local time. Some passengers are saying it appeared after the cruise ship suffered a lightning strike. Passengers are writing online that they heard a loud, startling boom from the storm and then saw the fire. Carnival said it was aware of those reports and investigating the cause.

The fire was burning on the port wing of the ship’s funnel commonly referred to as the “whale tail” due to its shape. The passengers were warned on the public address system and asked to remain off the outside decks and away from their balconies while the fire teams were activated. The ship, which has a capacity of more than 3,700 passengers and 1,150 crew, was approximately 20 miles off Eleuthera when the fire was reported.

Carnival said that the captain also turned the vessel and headed into nearby rain storms “to maximize the efforts to put out the fire.” The fire was reported extinguished after approximately two hours. A portion of the funnel’s wing has fallen onto the open deck.

 

 

 

The cruise ship has resumed course to its next port, Freeport on Grand Bahama, where it was expected on Sunday morning. Once in port, the cruise line said a more complete survey of the funnel was undertaken as well as some initial work to stabilize the damaged portions. The ship is due to return to Port Canaveral on Monday, but the line announced on Sunday the cruise ship will then proceed to the shipyard in Freeport for further work to begin repairs. The Carnival Freedom's March 25 and March 29 cruises from Port Canaveral have now been canceled. 

The fire comes just short of two years after the same cruise ship suffered another funnel fire while it was docked. The previous fire impacted the other side of the funnel on May 26, 2022, while the Carnival Freedom was docked at Grand Turk in the Turks and Caicos Islands. The ship was briefly taken from service with the passengers transferred to another cruise ship. The Carnival Freedom returned to service weeks later without the signature whale tail on the funnel, and she operated until recently before the funnel was restored during a dry docking.

 

Aftermath of the funnel fire (Randalyn Rogers/Facebook)

 

Debris from the funnel landed on the deck below (Facebook)