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Toronto man recalls chaos after fire breaks out on cruise ship, killing 3

Passenger make their way through narrow halls after fire broke out on Oceania Insignia, Dec. 13, 2014. Photo courtesy of Rick Silver

A dream trip to paradise turned into a nightmare after a fire broke out in the engine room of a cruise ship, killing three people.

Rick Silver of Toronto was on board the Oceania Insignia on a 10-day cruise through the Caribbean. Shortly after the ship docked in St. Lucia on Thursday, Silver said the power suddenly went off and that’s when thick smoke began billowing through the luxury liner.

“The power was like a humming noise… and then everything shut off,” he said.

Silver said the situation quickly escalated as crew members attempted to get all of the passengers off the boat.

“They were banging on doors saying get off the ship get off the ship – do not take anything. Now go,” he said.

A crew member and two contractors died in the fire.

According to Silver no instructions were given and no one was told what was going on. He said the only way for the over 650 passengers to get off the ship was through a narrow hallway and down a narrow staircase.

“You had a lot of elderly people who were carried down by other passengers,” he recalled.

Silver said he and other passengers were then herded into a nearby warehouse where they remained for nine hours without water or food as temperatures outside neared 33 degrees.

In a statement to CityNews, Oceania said “Our top priority is ensuring all 656 guests return home as quickly and comfortably as possible. All passengers will receive a 100 percent refund, and a 50 percent credit towards a future cruise. This is truly an emotional time for all of us.”

The remainder of the cruise was cancelled and passengers were flown back to Miami.

Silver said it took him two days to get home, without his luggage, and that he hasn’t been able to sleep since the fire.

“A far as compensation goes, I don’t think getting my own money back for what I went through is anywhere close,” he said.

The fire is being investigated by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board with the assistance of the U.S. Coast Guard.

The ship was built in 1998 and underwent a multimillion-dollar refurbishing earlier this year and rejoined
the Oceania fleet in May.