SANDAKAN: A stricken luxury cruise ship stranded at sea for 24 hours after being crippled by a fire has successfully “limped” its way here.
The cruise ship Azamara Quest that was on a 17-day voyage from Hong Kong had three of its four engines knocked out in the fire in Philippine waters on Saturday.
Azamara Quest docked at the Sandakan port at 9pm yesterday.
After immigration and custom clearance at the port, the 590 holidaymakers and 411 crew onboard heaved a sigh of relief when they disembarked from the ship and headed for hotels in Sandakan.
The tired-looking passengers waved at journalists as they left in 10 buses. They are expected to fly to their respective destinations tomorrow.
“The crew was fabulously marvelous. We felt very safe. The only thing we felt uncomfortable was there was no air-conditioning,” said Australian couple Mie and Lee Baker as they arrived at a hotel.
The passengers from 25 countries include 200 Americans, British (98), Australians (89), Canadians (45), Germans (39), Austrians (32), Belgians (16) and 14 each from New Zealand and Switzerland. The crewmen comprised 119 Filipinos, 58 Indians and 50 Indonesians.
A Guatemelan crew member who suffered smoke inhalation and heat exposure during the fire was admitted to the Duchess of Kent Hospital here for treatment. He is reported to be in stable condition. No passenger was injured.
The cruise ship had entered Malaysian waters bordering Palawan at about 6.30pm yesterday, when it became stranded following the fire that was put out at about 11am on Saturday.
The ship, which left Manila on Wednesday and was supposed to make port calls at Sulawesi, Bali and Komodo in Indonesia before ending the cruise in Singapore on April 12.
Larry Pimentel, president of Azamara Club Cruises, the ship's operator and owner, said hotlines had been set up so that relatives of guests could call their loved ones, adding that refunds would also be arranged. Pimentel is expected to arrive in Sandakan to meet the passengers today.
The company is a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, a Norwegian-American firm based in Miami.
The US Embassy in Kuala Lumpur has sent a consular service team to Sandakan to provide assistance to American passengers. They can contact the US Department of State at 1-888-407-4747.
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