Oceania Cruises said three people died on the cruise ship Insignia when it had a fire in the engine room while docked in St. Lucia Thursday morning.
The cruise line said the fire was contained to the engine room and extinguished. Three crew members and two contractors who were working on the ship at the time of the fire were taken to a medical facility on the eastern Caribbean island country.
Oceania said two of the contractors and one crew member died as a result of their injuries.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic events that occurred this morning on Insignia. We have extended our heartfelt condolences to the families of those involved and are offering them our full support. This is truly an emotional time for all of us at Oceania Cruises,” the company said in a statement.
The ship was on a 10-day cruise that left San Juan, Puerto Rico on Dec. 7 and was scheduled to arrive in Miami on Dec. 17.
The rest of the cruise was canceled and charter flights were arranged to bring all 656 guests back to Miami. Oceania said it was also providing hotel accommodations in Miami until flights to the guests’ hometown can be arranged.
Passengers who arrived in Miami early Friday said they heard an explosion and saw smoke.
"It smelled like the bottom of a volcano," said Trish Radeff. "I could not breathe, it was awful."
Elizabeth Barrett said she saw the attempts made to save the victims.
"I saw one fellow they were resuscitating on the dock and he was already expired by the time they got to him, they did try very valiantly to bring him around but it wasn't successful," said Barrett, from Scottsdale, Arizona. "It was a sad day."
The cruise line also said it was giving a complete refund to all of the travelers and a 50 percent credit towards a future Oceania cruise.