Bazuki Muhammad / Reuters
The stricken luxury cruise ship Azamara Quest sails toward a port in Malaysia's town of Sandakan on Borneo island, April 1, 2012.
The Azamara Quest, a luxury cruise adrift off the southern Philippines for 24 hours because of an engine fire, has safely reached a Malaysian port.
The vessel, carrying 600 passengers who are mostly westerners and 411 crew, was stranded at sea flames engulfed one of its engine rooms Friday night.
It restored propulsion the next night and reached the harbor of Sandakan city in Malaysia's eastern state of Sabah on Borneo island late Sunday.
Police and buses were waiting at the port to take the passengers to a hotel. Five crew members suffered smoke inhalation, including one who was seriously injured.
The Azamara Quest, carrying 600 passengers who are mostly westerners and 411 crew, suffered an engine-room fire on Friday that disabled the engines and left the ship temporarily stranded off the southern Philippines coast.
The fire, the latest in a string of cruise ship accidents across the world, was put out on Saturday although five crew members suffered from smoke inhalation with one requiring serious medical attention.
A U.S. Navy vessel had joined the escort flotilla comprising of several Philippine Navy ships and a coast guard ship, Filipino officials said.
The heightened security comes as the waters off the coast of southern Philippines and northern Sabah are key hunting grounds for pirates and the Abu Sayyaf, a deadly Islamic militant group.
The Abu Sayyaf wants an independent Islamic nation in the south of Roman Catholic Philippines, and has been responsible for high profile kidnappings of westerners, including abducting tourists from a nearby Malaysian resort island in 2000.
Azamara Club Cruises - a subsidiary of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd - said engineers onboard the ship had restored power to one of the ship's engines that allows for some air conditioning, running water and refrigeration.
The rest of the cruise, carrying mainly Americans, Australians and Western Europeans, has been cancelled but some of the passengers were still upbeat.
"This is our first trip on a cruise holiday and after what has happened you would think we would not want to go again but you are so wrong," said Neil Andrew Kirkpatrick who posted on the Azamara Facebook page on Sunday.
"The only discomfort is the heat due to the air-conditioning not working but I can suffer that as I know the engineering department have been working 24/7 to try to get this up and running."
The Azamara Quest was on a 17-night journey and had departed Hong Kong on Monday with port calls to Manila, Balikpapan (Borneo), Palapo (Sulawesi), Benoa Bali, Semarang and Komodo in Indonesia, Malaysia and ending in Singapore.
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