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Royal Caribbean fire cancels rest of cruise

BALTIMORE -- A fire that broke out aboard a Royal Caribbean ship Monday did enough damage that the rest of the cruise was canceled and the company said the more than 2,200 passengers will be flown from the Bahamas back to Baltimore, where the trip began.

The fire that began at 2:50 a.m. yesterday was extinguished about two hours later with no injuries reported. A cause wasn't immediately known. The Grandeur of the Seas, which left Baltimore on Friday, never lost power and was able to sail into port in Freeport, Bahamas, yesterday afternoon. It had been planned to be a seven-night cruise.

Royal Caribbean said on its website and through social media that executives met with passengers in port and that the cruise line is arranging flights for all 2,224 guests on Tuesday. It said passengers will receive a full refund of their fare and a certificate for a future cruise.

Royal Caribbean said all guests and 796 crew were safe and accounted for. Royal Caribbean spokeswoman Cynthia Martinez said in an email that the company was arranging 11 different charter flights for passengers. Photos show a substantial area of the stern burned on several decks of the ship the length of about three football fields.

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 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 of passengers to endure cold food, unsanitary conditions and power outages while the ship was towed to Mobile, Ala. It remained there for repairs until early May when it headed back to sea under its own power.

Magnus Alnebeck, general manager of the Pelican Bay Hotel, said his staff was asked to hold rooms for passengers, although it was not yet clear how many would stay there.

The ship will stay docked in Freeport at least overnight.

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