CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Despite having been at the forefront of two international cruising incidents in the past six months, a Charleston couple's love for relaxing on the high seas hasn't soured.
Tony and Diana Davis have taken 22 cruises to destinations around the world, but a December cruise to Jamaica found them aboard the Island Princess ship that picked up five Jamaicans adrift in the Caribbean.
Another cruise, this time to the Bahamas, found them aboard the Grandeur of the Seas, which caught fire earlier this week.
Tony and Diana, both state employees, left Baltimore, Md., aboard the Royal Caribbean ship Friday headed for CocoCay, Bahamas, by way of Port Canaveral, Fla. The 916-foot ship was crossing the Atlantic to the Bahamas when fire broke out in the stern early Monday.
He said the ship's captain, over the ship-wide announcement system, ordered the passengers to put on their life jackets and go to their muster locations, as they had practiced days earlier when they boarded the vessel.
They left their stateroom on deck eight and headed to the promenade on deck five.
"At first we didn't know what was going on," Tony said. "After we got down there, they notified us there was a fire on board.
"It really kind of set in when they lowered the lifeboats down to the level where you can step on board. That's when everybody knew it was serious."
They didn't board the lifeboats but waited on deck instead, talking among themselves to pass the time.
He couldn't see the fire but some passengers who had come from that area of the ship told him they smelled smoke.
The crew, aided by members of the Coast Guard, fought the fire for two hours. Tony said passengers on the other side of the ship told them the Coast Guardsmen rappelled from helicopters.
Crewmembers worked to cool hotspots after the fire and let the passengers go back to their rooms at 7 a.m. No injuries were reported.
He complimented the crew for its hard work and for keeping passengers calm. He said the ship never lost power or water and crewmembers gave water to the passengers.
"They're very well trained," he said of the crew. "They didn't panic at all and were very calm. They handled it really well."
The ship altered course and headed for Freeport in the Bahamas under its own power. A Coast Guard airplane could be seen overhead, and a Coast Guard ship trailed behind them. He said a Carnival Cruise ship, Sensation, stayed nearby in case they needed help.