SEPTEMBER 8, 2015 — Guests aboard the 10 year old cruise ship Carnival Liberty remained aboard the ship in St. Thomas this evening following an engine room fire Monday that was extinguished by the ship's automatic fire suppression system.
Carnival Liberty had departed its home port San Juan, Puert Rico, for a seven-day Caribbean cruise with 3,346 guests and 1,150 crew on board.
According to media reports, the ship will return early to San Juan as soon permission is received from authorities including the U.S. Coast Guard and the ship's flag state of Panama to leave St. Thomas. Upcoming calls in Barbados, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and St. Maarten have been canceled.
Passengers will have the option of remaining on board the vessel after it reaches San Juan and exploring the city for several days or disembarking to travel home
Carnival was planning to move forward with plans to fly guests home from St. Thomas if the ship did not have permission to sail by late today.
Media reports quote spokeswoman Jennifer de la Cruz as saying that while the ship did sustain some damage and repairs are needed, the vessel has power and is able to sail — with some restrictions, including a maximum speed limitation.
In a statement issued at 9.45 a.m. today, Carnival Cruise Line said:
While docked in St. Thomas yesterday Carnival Liberty experienced an engine fire that was extinguished by the ship’s automated suppression system. There were no injuries to guests or crew. Guests re-boarded the ship yesterday evening. All hotel services including air conditioning, elevators, toilets, galleys, etc. are fully functional and the ship's normal array of activities, entertainment, dining options and programming are being offered.
A team of experts has been conducting a deeper technical assessment of the affected engine area and working with various authorities including U.S. Coast Guard and the vessel’s flag state. While this process is ongoing, the ship remains alongside in St. Thomas. Guests are able to spend the day ashore if they wish and the company is providing complimentary shuttle service to popular areas on the island along with a $150 per person shipboard credit.
We apologize to our guests for the inconvenience and appreciate their patience.
UPDATE: Passengers are now to be flown home from St. Thomas (see newer story)