The 14 number of passenger cruise ships that arrived between November 2020 and October 2021 is the highest recorded by Alang in a single year.
As many as 14 cruise ships, which were once well known for their outlandish decor and revellers on high-seas, were on the shores of Gujarat’s Alang ship-breaking yard in the past year to be dismantled. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the arrivals are equivalent to the total cruise ships that have arrived at Alang in the last 10 years between the period 2011-2020. Captain Rakesh Mishra, Port Officer at Alang was quoted in an IE report saying that every year, one or two passenger ships get beached at Alang. However, during the last year, cruise ships came in large numbers. The 14 number of passenger cruise ships that arrived between November 2020 and October 2021 is the highest recorded by Alang in a single year.
Captain Mishra further said the numbers are so high that the cruise ships account for 10% of 150-odd vessels beached at Alang yard in the past 12 months. According to him, two passenger ships named MV Bluefort and MV Roger, arrived in the yard in the past 21 days of October alone. While the 42-year-old MV Bluefort was built in Germany, the 48-year-old MV Roger is registered in Spain. Most of these ships were significant employers, each of them having 400 members as staff. During the last 1.5 years, with cruise tourism taking a hit, the cruise ships without regular clientele could not pay the salaries of the employees nor maintain the vessels, the Captain added.
These 14 ships, though not as big as some of the other cargo vessels that come to Alang, however, they together account for 2.05 lakh metric tonne of LDT- the ship weight excluding the fuel, stores, boilers, passengers, etc. MV Karnika was the biggest cruise ship to arrive at Alang in the last 12 months. Karnika, weighing 31,046 LDT, with as many as 614 crew members, failed to restart operations after the Covid lockdown and was the first ship to arrive at Alang during the pandemic phase. Four other cruise ships, including MV Ocean Dream that used to ply on routes near Japan, MV Marco Polo as well as MV Columbus that plied on European cruise routes arrived in the month of January.
The Ship Recycling Industries Association of India said the Covid pandemic forced the owners of cruise ships to sell their vessels. With cruise tourism closing completely, these cruise owners faced bankruptcy as they were unable to cope up with loans’ interest, insurance costs, crew and vessel maintenance, as well as other anchorage charges incurred on the parked vessels. Haresh Parmar, honorary secretary of SRIA said during the last year, the cruise vessels have been steadily trickling into Alang. Before Diwali, another large cruise vessel is likely to arrive at Alang. This cruise could also be the last one to come this year as the cruise industry is slowly picking up, Parmar added.