A fire broke out around 3:10 a.m. March 23 on the Star Princess as it sailed from Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, to Montego Bay, Jamaica, Princess said. The blaze quickly spread through 100 cabins.

One passenger died following a cardiac arrest, and two others had significant smoke inhalation injuries, according to Julie Benson, a Princess spokeswoman. Nine passengers suffered minor smoke inhalation complications.

The crew extinguished the flames hours after it started, Princess said. The vessel is now in Montego Bay where a full damage assessment is being conducted.

According to Princess, the cruise will be terminated in Montego Bay and passengers will be flown home over the next two days. All passengers will receive a full refund on the cruise and air fare. In addition, Princess will cancel the next cruise on the Star Princess, which is scheduled to depart March 26 from Fort Lauderdale.

The Associated Press reported that Horace Peterkin, president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, said after touring the ship that crew members told him a cigarette was suspected of starting the fire on a balcony.

In response to the incident, the Ministry of Tourism, the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management in Jamaica coordinated efforts to accommodate the cruise passengers in hotels in and around Montego Bay. (See related story, "Jamaica tourism entities move in to help Star Princess passengers.")

"Jamaica immediately activated its crisis plan on the national level, galvanized the support of numerous agencies, accommodated more than 300 passengers in Negril, Montego Bay and Ocho Rios and rendered assistance wherever needed," said David Shields, deputy marketing director, JTB.

Details of the governments crisis management plan were outlined at a press conference at Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay March 23.

To contact reporter Johanna Jainchill, send e-mail to [email protected].

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