Was a Recent Nile Cruise Ship Fire Underplayed?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

A few days ago, our cruise ship accident attorneys reported on a fire that broke out on a Nile cruise vessel following a short-circuit in the ship’s kitchens sparked the fire. Luckily, the ship’s travelers had been on land exploring a historic temple when the fire occurred, and were then relocated to other ships for the remainder of the voyage.

We mentioned how the fire occurred while the vessel, the MS Nile Festival, a luxury hotel ship, was in the Upper Egyptian city of Aswan on April 24. Initially, no injuries or casualties were reported among the 84 guests and 79 crew members who were onboard the vessel, but it seems as though the accident was downplayed a lot more than the media reported – a practice that’s all too common for cruise lines.

According to an article published on the popular Spanish news outlet Noticias de Cruceros, a cruise passenger who was sailing onboard the Nile Festival recounted her experience, describing a much more tumultuous situation than what was originally reported. Photos taken of the vessel both during and after the fire show that the incident was a lot worse than suspected.

The pictures, which can be seen on the Spanish site’s Facebook page, show blazing flames and smoke enveloping the ship and even people jumping off to escape harm. But aside from the fire, passenger María Victoria García Granados, a Spanish teacher who booked the cruise through a travel agency thinking she was going to get some time to herself to relax and enjoy the sights, reveals an even greater nightmarish situation onboard the ship that she has yet to move past from.

Immediately upon boarding the ship, Granados explained the vessel was far from the luxurious floating hotel she expected.

“Everything was old and dirty. The cabin smelled bad and cockroaches were even found in the bathroom,” she said.

Then, after returning to the vessel from a trip to the temples of Edfu, Granados and her fellow travel companions noticed the fire and crew members throwing what she calls a “weak stream of water” on the flames in attempt to extinguish them. However, the damage done to the vessel was extensive.

The distraught cruise passenger said even after the fire was controlled, the damage that could be seen extended to tourist cabins and guests were seen trying to climb through windows to retrieve their belongings because Egyptian authorities would not allow them access to their cabins. This seemed like a normal step to preserve passenger safety, but according to Granados, authorities were so worried about keeping passengers off the ship they failed to notice that several people were able to sneak on the ship after lying to guards and telling them they were part of the crew. Who knows how much these looters stole from the cruise ship accident victims and if guests will ever be compensated for their losses.

But just as the situation seemed to be under control, another fire erupted, sending smoke throughout the vessel, which was clearly captured on film. This goes to show just how the cruise industry is severely lacking in the safety department.

Once Granados was back in Spain, the travel agency informed her that the fire cause three casualties, one of whom she believes was a crew member who offered to help get her belongings from the damaged vessel.

Sadly, cruise lines often downplay accidents to reduce their liability for paying damages to victims. Although many lines may try to avoid media coverage of onboard fires, injuries or other tragedies, the truth cannot be covered up so easily and almost always comes out.

While Carnival Cruise Line seems to be at the forefront of maritime disasters as of late, this recent cruise ship fire just goes to show how deep a cruise company’s secrets can go. And because Granados booked her vacation throughout a travel agency, which can give lines a loophole for paying damages to victims, there’s no telling how far the Egyptian cruise line will go to evade compensating her for her pain and suffering and other guests who were also sailing onboard the ship.