Norwegian Epic Shipyard Fire

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Norwegian Cruise Line

The most talked about cruise ship this year, the 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic, has been plagued with minor fires in the French shipyard where it's being built. And now French officials suspect arson.

The 153,000-ton ship, with such features as Blue Man Group, 21 restaurants and a giant waterslide, caught fire this week, making three fires in a month.

Norwegian Cruise Line still plans to take delivery of the ship next week. The Epic is to be introduced to press and travel agents in Europe, before beginning a sold-out transatlantic sailing. A glitzy welcome is planned in New York in early July.

The latest fire at the STX Europe shipyard in St. Nazaire, France, occurred as NCL held an open house, with some 17,000 shipyard workers and their families visiting throughout the day. Local newspaper Ouest France reports the fire started on Deck 8 and hundreds of people had to be evacuated. There were no reports of injuries.

The cruise line said in a statement, "Norwegian Cruise Line was notified by STX Europe that there was a small fire in an air conditioning room of Norwegian Epic on Sunday, June 6, 2010. It was extinguished immediately and there was no damage."

Several news reports say French investigators believe the fire was deliberately set. The earlier fires were also being treated as suspicious, one in a cabin and the other near the waterslide.
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