A total of 14 cruise ships were on the shores of Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujarat in the past 12 months to be dismantled.
rompted by the Covid pandemic, the arrivals are equivalent to the total number of cruise ships that have arrived at Alang in the past 10 years between 2011 and 2020.
“One or two passenger ships get beached at Alang every year. However, cruise ships came in large numbers during the last 12 months. The 14 passenger ships that have come between November 2020 and October 2021 is the highest Alang has ever seen in a single year. The numbers are so high that the cruise ships account for 10 per cent of 150-odd vessels beached at Alang in the last 12 months,” said Captain Rakesh Mishra, port officer at Alang to Indian Express.
Two passenger ships, the MV Bluefort and MV Roger, arrived in the past 21 days of October alone. While MV Bluefort is a 42-year-old R0-Ro vessel built in Germany, MV Roger is a 48-year-old vessel registered in Spain. “Most of these cruise vessels were significant employers with each having 400 members as staff. With cruise tourism taking a hit during the last 1.5 years, the ships without regular clientele could neither pay the salaries of the staff or maintain the vessels,” …as Captain Mishra added.
Though not as big as some of the other cargo vessels that arrive at Alang, these 14 ships together account for 2.05 lakh metric tonne of Light Displacement Tonnage (LDT) — the weight of the ship excluding the fuel, boilers, stores, passengers, etc. The biggest of the cruise ships to arrive at Alang in the last 12 months is MV Karnika, a dolphin-shaped luxury cruise liner with home port at Mumbai.
Weighing 31,046 LDT, Karnika, with 614 crew members, failed to restart operations after the lockdown and was the first ship to arrive at Alang during the Covid phase.
Four cruise ships, including MV Ocean Dream (MV Dream) that used to ply on routes near Japan, MV Marco Polo and MV Columbus (MV Colus) that plied on European cruise routes arrived in January.
According to the Ship Recycling Industries Association of India (SRIA), the pandemic forced cruise ship owners to sell their vessels. With cruise tourism shutting down completely, these owners faced bankruptcy as they were unable to cope up with interest on loans, insurance costs, crew and vessel maintenance, and other anchorage charges incurred on the parked vessels.
“The cruise vessels have been steadily trickling into Alang during the last one year. Another large cruise vessel is expected to arrive at Alang before Diwali. This could also be the last to come this year as the cruise industry is slowly picking up,” said Haresh Parmar, honorary secretary of SRIA.
Parmar, who is a shipbreaker at Alang, said cruise ships contain less amount of steel in comparison to a cargo vessel. “But the pricing of cruise ships is almost similar to cargo vessels. The passenger ships that have come during the pandemic were loaded with spares and other items. Usually, cruise owners move the spares and furnitures to other functional vessels before the sale,”…he concluded.