Sunday, March 7, 2021

Ghost fleets of empty cruise liners draw thousands

Dozens of cruise ships are now wandering the seas as the Covid-19 takes its toll on the industry.

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In March, the Costa Fortuna cruise liner tried to dock at Penang island but was refused entry.

The decision was taken as the country had decided to restrict the entry of all cruise ships to its ports. After being denied entry by Malaysia, Costa Fortuna headed to Singapore.

According to CuiseMapper.com, the Costa Fortuna is currently in the Adriatic Sea. She has a full slate of Mediterranean cruises beginning late October.

The bottom has fallen out of the cruise business in the Covid-19 pandemic, and port berths are full, so dozens of ocean-going behemoths are having to wander the seas like the Flying Dutchman.

Off the south coast of England, dozens of ships are just floating, going nowhere except for an occasional run up and down the English Channel just to keep their vital systems in shape.

Giant cruise liners are such an impressive sight that people flock to see them even when they are going nowhere.

Sightseers are flocking to the coast to gawp at the sight of these majestic ladies of the oceans.

Enterprising local skippers now load up their small boats with sightseers and run tours around the ships. They have been astonished by the demand.

It seems everybody, regardless of age, wants to get up close to the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, and the fourth-largest liner in the world at over 200,000 tonnes, the Allure of the Seas.

Many of the gawpers are previous passengers on the ships, so for them it’s like catching up with an old friend.

Others were booked but had their cruises cancelled, so they go out to marvel at what could have been.

A spokesman for Cunard, owner of the two monster Queens, explains why they sometimes go for a run.

“In the same way a car needs to be driven, our ships need to sail to ensure full working operation. We have essential manning on board which is approximately 100 crew members per ship to be able to sail her.”

Of course, cruising received bad publicity at the start of the pandemic when ships suffered outbreaks and had to be quarantined. One was the Ruby Princess off Australia.

According to the Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise industry generates more than US$200 billion in economic activity worldwide and supports more than a million jobs.

A small number of cruise lines are restarting operations with their first cruises since the pandemic began. Demand is said to be good.

While some might be reluctant to commit to a month on a floating petri dish, others will see a cruise as the ideal way to escape the trials of lockdown at home.

A life on the ocean wave may be the perfect way to avoid a second wave of Covid-19 if it hits at home.

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