- An English ferryman is offering a cruise to see all-but-abandoned cruise ships off the coast of Dorset, England.
- With cruise ship operations on pause worldwide, cruise lines including Carnival, Cunard, and P&O have anchored their fleets.
- Captain Paul Derham’s “ghost ship tour” lasts 2.5 hours and takes passengers within 130 feet of the towering vessels.
- Home to a stretch of Instagram-worthy, fossil-filled cliffs known as the Jurassic Coast, Dorset is a popular resort destination.
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The view from Dorset’s Jurassic Coast has looked a little different lately.
With international travel at a standstill, major cruise lines have taken to anchoring their ships in the waters off southwest England. Manned by skeleton crews, the ships are running on generators and returning to port to fuel up every few weeks, BBCreported.
The ships, which include Cunard’s Queen Victoria, Carnival’s Valor, and P&O’s Azura, have become something of a tourist attraction, prompting vacationers and locals to pause and snap photos of the unusual sight.
Captain Marcin Banach of the Azura has been documenting the views from his vantage point on Twitter:
Sunday fleet get together???????? Such a beautiful weekend in Weymouth Bay. Vessels from @pandocruises and @cunardline keep each other company enjoying the gentle Westerly breeze and lots of sunshine???? We wish you all a beautiful Sunday afternoon on dry land and on the water???????? pic.twitter.com/peBUDFE8Fl
— Marcin Banach (@CaptainMarcin) August 2, 2020
Now, in a very meta move, an English ferryman is taking passengers on cruises to see the abandoned cruise ships up close.
Captain Paul Derham’s “ghost ship tour,” advertised on his Facebook page, departs for Poole Bay from Mudeford Quay in Christchurch and can accommodate up to 20 people seated outside. The tours last 2.5 hours, cost £20 ($US26) for adults, and are organised on short notice depending on weather and tides.
Derham’s first two ghost ship tours sold out within two hours after he posted about them on Facebook, he told BBC.
This background has served him well on tours. “I know what goes on inside the ships and having served on one or two of them, I can even recite stories,” he said in an interview with the radio station.
Passengers are asked to bring their own food, and Paul takes care of the views, bringing passengers within 50 meters, or around 130 feet, of the ships that rise 20 or stories above the waterline.
One cruise ship captain has taken to waving at the ghost ship tours with a six-foot-long piece of plywood, Derham shard with BBC.
Derham is not the first travel operator to offer a creative solution to pandemic travel restrictions. Australia’s Qantas airline recently resumed its sightseeing flights over Antarctica, Business Insider’s David Slotnick reported. The 12-hour “flights to nowhere” cross over Antarctica and return to their starting point, appeasing travellers’ desire for a change of scenery without the need to deal with travel restrictions, since (technically) it is a domestic flight.
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