The fire, which occurred to one of four diesel generators in the engine room on Deck 1, was promptly extinguished and posed no danger to passengers or crew, according to a company statement. However, the fire did cause a general blackout onboard. Though an emergency generator switched on immediately, the ship did not have the required propulsion to carry onward to Buenos Aires, where the eight-night Brazil cruise was scheduled to end Thursday morning.
Costa Romantica remained anchored off the coast of Punta del Este until midday Thursday. During this time, crew worked to restore electricity, basic onboard services and the propulsion needed to get the ship and passengers to the nearest port, Punta del Este, to commence disembarkation Thursday evening. Costa then transferred passengers via bus to Buenos Aires to continue their journey home.
A Costa spokeswoman tells us that full assistance was given to all guests with transportation issues, such as missed flights, whether they booked their air arrangements independently or through the cruise line. Costa has also offered the passengers on this voyage a refund equivalent to two days of the cruise fare paid, and a credit of 20 percent of the paid price (for the cruise only), valid toward a future Costa cruise through December 31, 2010.
Because of the delay -- and the fact that Costa Romantica will be out of service for at least the next scheduled cruise for additional repairs -- passengers that were supposed to set sail yesterday on a 14-night cruise down to Cape Horn and back, roundtrip Buenos Aires, are also impacted. Costa put these guests up at local hotels overnight, and also covered transportation and meal expenses.
These passengers now have two options. Costa is in the process of arranging an alternate vacation at a land-based resort through March 12, when the cruise would have ended. Those who do not want to take the resort option will receive a full refund of the amount paid and assistance with their onward travels, whether they booked their original air arrangements on their own or with Costa.
Also, all guests on the canceled February 26 sailing -- no matter which option they choose -- will receive a credit equivalent to 50 percent of the fare paid (for the cruise only) valid toward a future Costa cruise through December 31, 2010.
At this point, Costa Romantica's next cruise, a three-night sailing roundtrip from Buenos Aires with a call at Punta del Este, is expected to depart as scheduled on March 12. We'll keep you posted.
--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor
Comment on this story!