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Monday, January 18, 2021

Hit by Covid, luxury cruise liners queue up at Alang

This is the second cruise ship to arrive at one of the world’s biggest ship-breaking yards in Bhavnagar within 40 days.

Written by Avinash Nair | Ahmedabad | Updated: January 2, 2021 8:20:46 pm
Hit by Covid, luxury cruise liners queue up at AlangOcean dream, a 40-year-old cruise ship sailing under the flag of Comoros, arrived at Alang ship-breaking yard Friday to be dismantled. (Express Photo)

OCEAN DREAM, a 40-year-old cruise ship sailing under the flag of Comoros, arrived at Alang ship-breaking yard Friday to be dismantled. This is the second cruise ship to arrive at one of the world’s biggest ship-breaking yards in Bhavnagar within 40 days.

On November 21, luxury cruise liner MV Karnika had reached Alang to be demolished after around a year’s gap.

Hit by Covid, luxury cruise liners queue up at Alang Ocean Dream, the cruise liner which arrived at plot number 61 in Alang Friday, was built in Denmark in 1981. (Express Photo)

Haresh Parmar, the honorary joint secretary of Ship Recycling Industries Association of India (SRIA), said, “In last 40 days, MV Karnika and Ocean Dream have reached Alang for being demolished. We are expecting at least two more cruises to reach Alang for dismantling in January itself.”

A 1965 Soviet-built Marco Polo is the third cruise liner which is expected to reach Alang later this month. The European owner of the 14,000-tonne Marco Polo cruise, Parmar said, had gone bankrupt following which a local court auctioned it. “There is no hope for cruise vessels for the next six to eight months as the Americans and Europeans, who form the biggest group of cruise travellers, are the most affected by the Covid-19. Since its outbreak, more and more cruise liners are going in debt and are being sold as scrap,” he added.

Hit by Covid, luxury cruise liners queue up at Alang The vessel, which weighs 35,265 tonnes and is 205-metre long, has about 10-odd decks and can carry about 1,400 passengers and 550 crew members. (Express Photo)

According to Parmar, there are hardly any cruise liner that is in operations after the coronavirus outbreak. “The Covid-19 outbreak on Diamond Princess, a cruise ship docked in Japan in February 2020, caused a global scare with regard to cruise tourism,” Parmar said. More than 3,600 passengers and crew members were quarantined onboard that vessel at Port of Yokohama in Japan and the outbreak eventually led to about 700 infections and seven deaths, he added.

Ocean Dream, the cruise liner which arrived at plot number 61 in Alang Friday, was built in Denmark in 1981. The vessel, which weighs 35,265 tonnes and is 205-metre long, has about 10-odd decks and can carry about 1,400 passengers and 550 crew members. It has 670 passenger cabins, a sports deck, ballrooms, lounges, a book corner, swimming pools, jacuzzies, coffee shops, bars, and a sunbathing deck.

Hit by Covid, luxury cruise liners queue up at Alang It has 670 passenger cabins, a sports deck, ballrooms, lounges, a book corner, swimming pools, jacuzzies, coffee shops, bars, and a sunbathing deck. (Express Photo)

“It was not being operated since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year,” Nazir Kaliwala, a shipbreaker at Alang who heads NBM Iron and Steel Trading Pvt Ltd, said. The number of cruise ships that are up for auction is more than that available pre-Covid-19 pandemic, he added.

Hit by Covid, luxury cruise liners queue up at Alang The last decade of Ocean Dream’s sailing career was spent under the Japanese NGO Peace Boat. (Express Photo)

The last decade of Ocean Dream’s sailing career was spent under the Japanese NGO Peace Boat. The vessel, Kaliwala said, had joined Peace Boat in 2012 and continued to conduct world voyages and short trips in Japan till the onset of the Covid pandemic. “It was stationed near Hiroshima when it retired. We bought the vessel for around Rs 52 crore,” he added.

The 70,310-tonne luxury cruise liner MV Karnika, ship-breakers said, was the first to arrive at Alang in the last one year. The 14-deck vessel belonged to Jalesh Cruises, a sister company of Essel Group. Its operations had come to a standstill after creditors arrested the vessel through an order of admiralty court on March 17 last year. Though attempts were made to restart operations post the Covid-10 nationwide lockdown, the company officially discontinued it in October last year.

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