Alaska News

Passengers and crew evacuated from small cruise ship in Alaska’s Glacier Bay after fire breaks out

Nearly 70 people were evacuated from a small cruise ship in Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park after a fire Monday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

There were no reports of injuries.

Crew members on the 178-foot vessel Wilderness Discoverer reported a fire at 7:30 a.m., the Coast Guard said in a statement. The boat is owned by UnCruise Adventures, a small-ship cruise company based in Juneau with itineraries in Southeast Alaska.

The 51 passengers and 16 crew members aboard the Wilderness Discoverer were “safely disembarked aboard the cruise ship Sapphire Princess,” a much larger cruise ship that was in the area, the Coast Guard said. Tender boats were used to ferry passengers from the smaller ship to the Sapphire Princess, a far larger ship that can carry 3,670 passengers and crew.

The two boats were in the west arm of Glacier Bay, transiting the main channel, UnCruise owner Dan Blanchard said by phone Monday. The busy area sees frequent boat traffic.

The fire was likely caused by a generator and was extinguished by an onboard fire suppression system, Blanchard said. Evacuated passengers will get off the larger cruise ship and go back to Juneau on Monday night, he said. A skeleton crew of Wilderness Discoverer staff remained onboard to be with the boat

The damaged vessel will be towed to Ketchikan, the Coast Guard said.


Blanchard said his crew handled the fire smoothly.

“I’m super happy about the response of the crew; you respond the way you are trained,” he said. “They just did the right things.”

A separate and unrelated helicopter medevac of a passenger on the Sapphire Princess cruise ship was underway by the Coast Guard Monday afternoon, according to Petty Officer Third Class Ian Gray.

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Michelle Theriault Boots

Michelle Theriault Boots is a longtime reporter for the Anchorage Daily News. She focuses on in-depth stories about the intersection of public policy and Alaskans' lives. Before joining the ADN in 2012, she worked at daily newspapers up and down the West Coast and earned a master's degree from the University of Oregon.