Royal Caribbean International’s newest, largest ship, Wonder of the Seas, is currently sailing her maiden voyage, but it hasn’t been without one notable glitch. According to reports from passengers aboard the vessel, a sprinkler malfunction occurred at approximately 12-1 p.m. on Sunday, March 6, 2022.
Sprinkler System Malfunctions
The sprinkler malfunction happened on the Royal Promenade, which stretches down the center of the vessel on deck 5, from the Royal Theater at the ship’s bow to the Main Dining Room toward the aft. The Royal Promenade has a high, open ceiling, with staterooms overlooking the interior from higher decks.
According to eyewitness reports and videos posted to social media accounts, the sprinklers soaked center portions of deck 5. Crew members acted quickly and efficiently to cordon off the area and the promenade was quickly closed for cleanup, including lowering the fire doors in adjacent sections to contain the water and keep guests safe from slippery floors and other possible hazards.
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Parts of deck 4 and 6 were also closed, likely to check for any potential leaks or other necessary cleanup adjacent to the impacted sections of the Royal Promenade.
The incident appears to have been a malfunction, and there were no alarm calls made and no fire reported on board. Within a few hours, the area was cleaned up, dried out, and reopened for guests to enjoy.
Guests who witnessed the incident were quick to commend crew members from different departments who pitched in right away to facilitate the cleanup effort, noting how quickly the cleanup happened and the Royal Promenade was reopened.
Maiden Voyage Underway
Wonder of the Seas is currently on her maiden voyage, a 7-day Eastern Caribbean itinerary that departed Fort Lauderdale on Friday, March 4. Today, the ship was calling in Labadee, Haiti, when the sprinkler malfunction occurred. Because the incident happened in the afternoon, many guests were likely off the ship enjoying the private port of call or participating in shore tours at the time.
The ship is scheduled to call on San Juan on Monday, followed by a day at sea, Nassau on Wednesday, and CocoCay on Thursday, before returning to Fort Lauderdale on Friday, March 11.
Fire Suppression on Cruise Ships
Fire is the gravest risk on any cruise ship, and fire safety protocols are part of every safety briefing before a cruise sets sail. Cruise ships include advanced fire suppression equipment, including sprinkler systems, alarms, isolation doors, and specially trained crews to respond to any risk of fire.
Guests are warned about the risk of fire, and are forbidden from tossing cigarette butts overboard. Even a small bit of hot ash blowing back onto a ship’s deck could cause a fire.
Crew members are routinely trained and drilled to respond to fires, and protocols are updated frequently as new equipment is developed to combat any possibility of fire on a cruise ship.
Maiden Voyage Mishaps
It is not unusual for a brand new ship to have unintended mishaps on a maiden voyage, the first time the ship is fully under sail with a full crew and passengers.
Past Royal Caribbean guests have reported previous sprinkler system mishaps on other vessels, including on an early voyage of Quantum of the Seas, though that sprinkler malfunction was confined to the Sorrento’s pizzeria. Accidental sprinkler activations have also been reported on Anthem of the Seas.
One of the most notable maiden voyage mishaps for modern cruise ships occurred with Carnival Cruise Line’s very first vessel, Mardi Gras, on her very first voyage in March 1972. The ship ran aground on a sandbar shortly after departing Miami, with 530 passengers aboard. No injuries were reported (and no sprinklers were activated), and the “Fun Ship” image was born as drinks kept flowing while the ship was freed.
Cruise Hive wishes Wonder of the Seas all the best to complete her maiden voyage without further mishaps, and may she enjoy many years of incident-free sailings to bring a sense of oceangoing wonder to many cruise travelers.