Imagine walking along the harbor and seeing a cluster of several gigantic cruise ships motionless on the water. That’s exactly what many in England are seeing in the English Channel on the southwest coast of England. Huge ghost cruise ships are haunting the horizon loitering around with no passengers, totally abandoned as grim reminders of the pandemic that has more or less shut down the entire world.
Huge ghost cruise ships line the horizon in Dorset
The ghost cruise ships, all liners of various shipping agencies are going nowhere. Cruise services have been shut down because of the coronavirus but the creepy spectacle has gone on to become a tourist attraction in itself. What started out as an idea by cruise ship worker Paul Derham has now taken off to become a mini tourism industry and that is ghost cruise ship tours.
Derham was a deputy captain for P&O cruises. He has been working in the cruse ship industry for 27 years. He now runs two ferries in Dorset England and when he noticed the amount of cruise ships abandoned and anchored along his ferry routes, he hit upon a fantastic idea. He now uses his ferries to take people to tour the ocean liners so that they get an upfront glance at them. His ferries take passengers as close to the gigantic vessels as possible and the initiative has generated a huge response.
Once lively vessels with bustling activity, the ghost cruise ships have become an eerie spectacle on the water. It looks like some giant ship graveyard except for the fact that the cruise liners are in immaculate condition. While there are no tourists, the ships only house a skeleton staff for maintenance, cleaning and safety.
Some of the largest cruise liners on the seas
Among the ghost cruise ships are some pretty famous names like the Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas and Jewel of the Seas, Jewel of the Seas, and Allure of the Seas, as well as several Cunard ships including the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth. Now most of them are anchored near Derham’s ferry route in Mudeford which is a small locality in Dorset England. In Derham’s own words “One time when I went down Mudeford Quay, I could see my old ship in the distance and we had a few passengers going to the beach. I said, ‘Anyone want to go and see the cruise ships?'” he told As It Happens guest host Helen Mann.
“I was amazed so many hands went up. I thought, ‘Oh OK.’ So we put it on Facebook and we filled up within a few hours, two trips.”
The Ghost ship tour is operating regular tours
Derham’s Ferry Ghost Ship Tour has been in operation since Britain went into its second Lockdown in June. Passengers book the tour on the Mudeford Ferry Facebook Page and pay 20 pounds for a ride that ferries them up close to around 50 meters of each vessel. Of course, the experience is amazing because you get to see a towering might ocean liner right n front of you. For those whom a cruise ship tour could be too expensive, this is the next best thing.
“It’s a bit surreal, really,” Derham says. “You get a fantastic view of these big ships.”
The Ghost cruise ship tour has become a huge success for Derham who has been inundated with requests form locals. The ghost cruise ships can be spotted by locals from nearby beaches and the waterfront and this is what intrigues many of them. The tour starts from the seaside residence of King George III a historic landmark. Derham then speaks about the English Channel and along the cruise also provides information about each liner including its measurements.
“I find the more information I’m given, the more interesting the tourism. And that’s what I try to portray on our trips out to see the ships,” he said.
For those seeing such mammoth cruise liners up close, it is a spectacular experience. Among the ghost cruise ships is the Allure of the Seas, the largest in the world that is 1,187 feet long and can accommodate 6,687 people. Derham hopes to ruin his tours as long as possible or till such time they may start running again.