Passengers from Royal Caribbean's Grandeur of the Seas arrived in Baltimore Tuesday grateful that the fire that devastated their ship Monday morning was not worse -- and grateful for the quick-thinking staff of the cruise ship who had passengers evacuated from their rooms and ready to board boats to evacuate.
"I happened to get up and hear...I initially thought it was a drill," one passenger said, as he stepped off a plane at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. "Because it wasn't coming through our speakers in our rooms yet. So I thought the crew was just doing a drill at 3 oclock in the morning, no big deal.
"And then of course they came on the speakers saying grab your life vest and get to your muster stations as soon as possible," the man continued. "Nobody got hurt, which is the most important thing. And that staff on that ship...
"...was amazing," another passenger interjected. "The staff was amazing."
The Monday morning blaze took about two hours to extinguish and left a substantial portion of the ship's stern burned. The cause of the fire wasn't immediately known, but the U.S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board planned to investigate.
No injuries were reported. Royal Caribbean said all aboard -- 2,224 passengers and 796 crew members -- have been accounted for.
"They woke us up with an announcement," another passenger said. "They knocked on everybody's doors, and we were escorted to the mustering station. And then we stayed outside and watched the sun come up.
"But we didn't see the fire, and we didn't really know the extent of the damage until the next morning when we were able to go outside and look and see what had actually happened," the passenger said.
The ship's passengers were flown on charter flights from the Bahamas to BWI. Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said in an email that the company was arranging 11 different charter flights.
Passengers will get a full refund of their fares and a certificate for a future cruise.
The ship -- which left Baltimore on Friday for a seven-night cruise -- had been en route to CocoCay, Bahamas. Royal Caribbean said the ship never lost power and was able to sail into port in Freeport, Bahamas, Monday afternoon.
The ship launched in 1996 and was refurbished last year.
Royal Caribbean said on its website and via social media that executives met with passengers in port.
The company in a statement on its website said it is "deeply sorry for this unexpected development in our guests' vacation. We understand that this may have been a very stressful time for them. We appreciate their patience and cooperation in dealing with this unfortunate situation.''
Carnival Corp. also had trouble with fire aboard another ship earlier this year.
The 900-foot Triumph was disabled during a February cruise by an engine room fire in the Gulf of Mexico, leaving thousands to endure cold food, unsanitary conditions and power outages, passengers said. The ship was towed to Mobile, Ala., and remained there for repairs until early May when it headed back to sea under its own power.
Martinez said in a news release that a cruise scheduled aboard the Grandeur of the Seas for May 31 has been canceled so the ship can be repaired.
- Fire Breaks Out Aboard Baltimore-to-Bahamas Cruise Ship
- Passengers Cheer End of "Horrible" Cruise
- 100-Plus Fell Ill on Cruise: Royal Caribbean
- Carnival to Fly Dream Passengers Home
- First Lawsuit Filed in Cruise Ship Mishap
- Cruise Becomes "Shanty Town" on the Sea, Passengers Say
- Disabled Cruise Ship in Gulf to Get Tug Boat Tow Monday