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Westmoreland County women on fire-stricken ship retain faith in cruise line

| Tuesday, June 4, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Damage on the Royal Caribbean ship Grandeur of the Seas is pictured as the ship is docked in Freeport May 27, 2013. A fire broke out on the ship's aft mooring deck in the early hours of Monday morning. The fire was extinguished at 0458 ET, and all 2,224 passengers and 796 crew members were safe and accounted for, according to the company.

The fire that cut short the Royal Caribbean cruise ship Grandeur of the Seas' voyage from Baltimore to several Caribbean destinations last week hasn't soured two area friends' opinion of the company.

Barbara Trump of New Alexandria and Brenda Mitchell of Greensburg had cruised with Royal Caribbean in the past, and both have said they plan to go again.

Mitchell, in fact, said she already has her next Royal Caribbean trip booked for October — on a different ship in the fleet. She would book another trip on the Grandeur, too, she noted.

“I would go back on it,” she said of the fire-damaged vessel. “No doubt in my mind.”

“They're our favorite,” Trump said of the cruise line. “I'm ready to go on another one through Royal Caribbean. They're giving us our money back, they're giving us a free cruise, they gave us our pictures free.”

Trump was on her fourth cruise, and Mitchell, a cruise veteran with 21 cruises under her belt, was on her seventh Royal Caribbean cruise. The friends were in their stateroom near the middle of the ship when the fire broke out early May 27 while the ship was en route to the Bahamas.

After a report from the captain over the intercom, Trump said, crew members went door to door to alert passengers and direct them to designated areas of the ship.

“I guess it's the first time the crew on the ship had an experience like this also,” Mitchell said. “But they were so calm and quiet and efficient that you would never know that. Everything was explained to the letter what was going to happen as far as safety features, lifeboats.”

“Everybody was calm. It made us feel safe that they were smiling, they weren't scared,” Trump added.

The fire damage was substantial enough to force Royal Caribbean to scrap the remainder of the itinerary, but the ship's power, propulsion and communications systems remained functional.

The ship detoured to Freeport, Bahamas, after the fire and all 2,224 passengers were flown back to Baltimore via chartered planes.

Trump said she met Royal Caribbean Chief Executive Officer Adam Goldstein as he visited passengers after the fire.

“I gave him all good reports on his people,” she said.

Upon arrival back in Baltimore, Royal Caribbean representatives were just as helpful as they had been onboard.

“Every 20 feet or so, there was somebody to show us where to go (in the airport),” Trump said. “It made us feel like royalty.”

According to Royal Caribbean's Twitter account, six sailings of the Grandeur of the Seas have been canceled — set to depart each Friday from May 31 through July 5 — with refunds and discount coupons issued to passengers booked for those sailings. The ship is undergoing repairs at Grand Bahama Shipyard.

Greg Reinbold is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-459-6100, ext. 2913, or