A massive fire broke out on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship early on Monday morning, causing more than 2,000 passengers to abandon their rooms and prepare to get into life boats.

The Grandeur of the Seas was forced to return to port after the rear of the ship caught fire, sending smoke into several hallways as passengers waited in assembly stations for more than four hours.

On Monday afternoon, Royal Caribbean announced that they were cancelling the cruise as it could no longer safely take passengers to the Bahamas, its intended destination.

The passengers will fly to Baltimore on Tuesday on flights organized by the cruise line.

‘I heard these big explosions and saw the fire jump out of the ship,’ passenger Dan McTigue told ABC News. ‘We couldn’t get to the muster station because it was on fire.’

‘I started crying,’ his granddaughter Sophia said. ‘I thought we were gonna die.’

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Passengers report that amid the chaos life preservers were distributed to several people as they waited in safety areas

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The fire broke out on deck 3 and was quickly extinguished but the damage caused Royal Caribbean to cancel the cruise bound for the Bahamas

Startling photos of the ship emerged on social media showing the entire rear of the vessel charred and destroyed. A bar and a restaurant were also destroyed by the flames.

No cause for the fire has been revealed, and authorities continue to investigate.

Royal Caribbean said that the blaze began at 2.50am and was extinguished about two hours later with no injuries reported.They said all 2,224 guests and 796 crew were safe and accounted for.

The ship had sailed from Baltimore on Friday and arrived in Freeport, Bahamas, Monday afternoon.

Royal Caribbean announced that the 2,224 passengers would be receiving a full refund and a gift certificate from the company.The company is also organizing flights for all passengers.

Bang Warren, one of the passengers who had to evacuate her room as a warning horn blared over the sound system, described the chaotic scene to The Baltimore Sun.

‘A lot of people were passing out with fear,’ she said. She added that she saw crew members distributing oxygen masks and life vests: ‘I know some children were vomiting.’

 
Grandeur of the Seas passenger Danielle Miller initially thought the ship was sinking as she filmed this footage
Grandeur of the Seas passenger Danielle Miller initially thought the ship was sinking as she filmed this footage
 

Grandeur of the Seas passenger Danielle Miller initially thought the ship was sinking as she filmed this footage

 
 
South Jersey resident Jennifer Allen filmed the moment when lifeboats were lowered into the ocean as the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas caught fire on Monday morning

South Jersey resident Jennifer Allen filmed the moment when lifeboats were lowered into the ocean as the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas caught fire on Monday morning

 
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The ship was forced to dock in Freeport, Grand Bahama island as the fire damage was assessed.

Another passenger, Danielle Miller, 23, said that she was sound asleep and was unaware of anything untoward until the ship’s intercom asked passengers to put life jackets on.

‘My first thought was that we were sinking,’ said Danielle of her terror.

‘I opened the door and just see people running around with life jackets on and we were being yelled at to get our life jackets on and run up to a deck that was two floors above us,’ she told ABC News.

‘But we didn’t know what was going on because when we were going to bed it was really stormy, so we honestly thought the boat might have been sinking. And we were just panicking and running upstairs.

‘And we didn’t know for about a half hour that there was a fire two decks below where we were at.’

Miller revealed she was so nervous as the fire raged that her hands were shaking and her heart was pounding.

‘A couple people fainted. People were throwing up, crying. Just anxiety attacks everywhere. I was just telling my roommate stay calm,’ she said.

Royal Caribbean said that two guests were treated after fainting, and medical staff responded to reports of high blood pressure and an ankle sprain.d

Adam Goldstein, president & CEO or Royal Caribbean and Anders Aasen, AVP of Technical Services survey the fire damage

Nathan Pletscher spoke to ABC News to explain how he became nervous for his parents aboard the ship only after he looked at a photo tweeted by Royal Caribbean’s public relations team.

‘We originally saw a news article and were a little nervous. When we made contact with my parents, they said there was a small fire,’ he said.

‘When I saw the photo on Twitter, I said, “That was a little more than a small fire.” It’s really fortunate the crew was able to get fire under control and things of that nature.’

Speaking to the news network, Pletscher admitted that his parents had a ‘sense of panic’ and had become ‘obviously nervous’, but were calmed by the ships crew.

‘When the alarm first went off, there was an ‘uh-oh’ moment,’ Pletscher said. ‘But they couldn’t say enough about how organized and professional both the captain and crew were. They kept everyone calm and were extremely transparent on with the whole situation.’

The Twitter account for their public relations department announced they were in the process of scheduling passengers on flights to Baltimore.

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Royal Caribbean has said they are in the process of arranging flights for the 2,224 guests currently aboard the ship

Firefighter Brian Goss, a passenger on the ship, told WOOD-TV that some of the cabins experienced flooding and that the hallways smelled of smoke for most of the morning.

But he praised the efforts of the company, and said they were working tirelessly on the situation: ‘Up all night in emergency mode and now serving food and drinks with smiling faces and no sleep.’

An announcement from the Royal Caribbean cruise ship that passengers needed to go their muster stations roused Mark J. Ormesher from his stateroom on the Grandeur of the Seas early Monday.

Ormesher said in an email to The Associated Press that immediately after the captain’s announcement, his room attendant knocked on the door and told him and his girlfriend to grab their flotation devices, saying: ‘This was not a drill.’

The native of England, who lives in Manassas, Virginia, Ormesher said he and his girlfriend smelled acrid smoke as they went to their muster station, the ship’s casino. He said the crew quickly provided instruction.

‘This encouraged calm amongst the passengers,’ he said.

Passengers were required to remain at their stations for four hours, he said, and the captain ‘provided us as much information as we needed to stay safe.’

Ormesher, 25, and on his first cruise, said the air conditioner had been shut off, and as the hours passed and the ship got hot, bottled water was passed around.

The crew and passengers remained calm, and helped those who needed it. Crying babies were given formula and held while their parents used the bathrooms.

After passengers were allowed to leave their stations, Ormesher said he saw water on the outside of deck 5 and in the hallways. The mooring lines were destroyed he said; crew members brought new lines from storage.

In Freeport, passenger Andrea Sanders of Washington, D.C., said she slept on the deck with hundreds of other passengers as smoke billowed out of the stern of the ship. ‘I was terrified with it being my first cruise,’ Sanders told The Freeport News as she ate lunch in port.

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

The ship will stay docked in Freeport overnight.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement on its website that most public areas and staterooms are safe and power, propulsion and communications systems functioned without interruption.

Royal Caribbean International president and CEO Adam Goldstein met with passengers in Freeport.

 
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A tweet sent from the NTSB shows they are investigating the situation

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a tweet that it will join the U.S. Coast Guard in investigating the fire.

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, Alabama.

It remained there for repairs until early May when it headed back to sea under its own power.

 

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