By RANDALL DICKERSON
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The chief of the Brentwood, Tenn., fire department says he knew a cruise with his wife and six teenagers would make memories.
He discovered what kind early Monday when the fire alarm went off aboard the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas. The public address system announced a fire on board, and stewards pounded on stateroom doors.
Chief Brian Goss spoke by telephone from Baltimore. He said his family and their friends arrived in the city around 1 a.m. Wednesday after a weather system grounded their flight from Freeport, Bahamas, for more than four hours. Besides Goss and his wife, Marie, the couple's three sons were aboard, and each son brought a friend on the cruise.
Goss said his family was in a stateroom on the second deck, near the middle of the ship. They put on life jackets and went to the fifth deck, as they had done in a drill earlier.
"We could smell it as we climbed the stairs," Goss said of the fire.
He said the fact that the ship was underway blew the heat and smoke away from passengers.
"Had you not known there was a fire, you would have thought it was a normal day," Goss said.
The ship left Baltimore on Friday for a seven-night cruise. It was headed originally to CocoCay, Bahamas, but instead sailed to Freeport on Monday afternoon after the fire. Royal Caribbean chartered flights to return to Baltimore, refunded the cost of the cruise and gave passengers a voucher for a future cruise.
Goss said he would cruise again.
"This was our seventh cruise," he said. "There's no question we will go again."
Goss said the cruise line kept passengers informed and fed. The ship never lost electricity or propulsion.
"The crew was going the extra mile and then some to make sure we're taken care of," Goss said.