Bad Weather Causes Stack Fire on Casino Cruise Ship

A stack fire aboard a casino cruise ship at Port Canaveral caused brief concern on Thursday afternoon, but what caused the flames?

The Victory casino cruise ship based from Port Canaveral had a brief stack fire on Thursday, June 22, 2023, while the ship was returning after its first daily sailing.

The incident was caused by sudden poor weather that forced the ship’s engines to run higher than normal, and the exhaust and soot briefly caught fire.

No injuries or damage were reported and at no time were the guests aboard or the ship’s crew in danger.

Small Fire Aboard Casino Cruise Ship

Victory Casino Cruises operates daily sailings from Port Canaveral aboard the Victory 1 gambling ship, but on Thursday, June 22, passengers had a startling moment when there was a brief “stack fire” onboard the 4-deck vessel.

The incident happened at approximately 4 p.m. as the ship was returning to dock after its regular morning cruise, which had departed at 11 a.m.

While preparing to dock that afternoon, a sudden squall hit the ship, which made it necessary to run the ship’s engines to maximum RPMs to maneuver away from the pier and safely circle for another approach.

With the engines on full, exhaust in the ship’s stack rose to critical temperatures, causing a brief ignition of the residual soot inside the exhaust pipe at the point where it mixed with oxygen at the exit point of the exhaust. This created smoke and flames that looked quite startling and concerning.

Port Canaveral Casino Cruise Ship
Port Canaveral Casino Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: EWY Media / Shutterstock)

“In the marine trade, this is called a ‘stack fire’ and is not uncommon in the industry,” Captain Tim, master of the vessel, explained in a statement. “It is an occurrence that is quickly and safely handled by shutting down the engine. This takes away the heat source and immediately extinguishes the fire. At no time were the passengers and crew in any danger.”

The company voluntarily cancelled the Thursday evening cruise – which typically sails from 7 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. – for inspections and to ensure the integrity of the vessel.

No damage was noted and the ship resumed sailing safely and comfortably for its Friday cruises on June 23 with no disruption to the schedule.

This incident is reminiscent of the fire aboard Carnival Freedom in May 2022 that destroyed the cruise ship’s characteristic “whale tail” funnel, but it must be noted that the causes of each fire are very different, as are the outcomes.

Weather Impacting Cruise Ships of All Sizes

While Victory 1 is a smaller vessel and therefore more susceptible to poor weather, Florida’s intense summer storms can impact even larger cruise ships.

Just a week ago, Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas was caught in an unusually strong summer storm just as it was leaving Port Canaveral in the evening, and wind gusts tossed lounge chairs about the open decks while guests dashed for cover.

Independence of the Seas Cruise Ship Deck
Independence of the Seas Cruise Ship Deck (Footage Credit: Jenn Stancil)

Such storms typically only last for a few minutes, but can include high wind gusts, torrential rains, and severe lightning. During these storms, there is also the risk of hail or even tornadoes or waterspouts.

Depending on the daily weather conditions, Florida’s summer storms typically strike in the afternoon hours from 3-5 p.m., but could occur at any time of day.

Even Stronger Weather

Of course, all cruise travelers are familiar with how stronger weather – official tropical storms and hurricanes – could impact cruise vacations with changed itineraries, missed ports of call, or even shorter or longer cruises than originally planned.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season officially runs from June 1 through November 30 each year, but storms can form outside those calendar dates. Already in 2023, three official storms have formed, but none has yet had a strong impact on cruise travel.

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