Record number of cruise ships scrapped at Alang in the past 12 months

The cruise industry was the worst hit in the shipping sector as a result of Covid-19, with the international travel sector brought to a complete halt in March 2020. That had the effect of bringing forward many of the repositioning strategies adopted by the larger cruise companies, as well as some of the smaller operations going out of business.

The net impact of this has now been seen at the demolition yards at Alang, India. They have received a record number of cruise and passenger ships during the past 12 months. While none of the major cruise brands have sent one of their ships directly to the ship breaking operations in India, several notable ships have arrived since November 2020 with more expected.

“One or two passenger ships get beached at Alang each year,” said Alang port officer Captain Rakesh Mishra, speaking to the Indian Express, before adding that this year had seen the highest number of passenger ships to arrive at Alang in a single year.

Fourteen passenger ships were reported as having been beached during the past 12 months. One more was expected before the end of 2021.

Passenger ships accounted for nearly 10% of the approximately 150 ships sent to the breaker yards in India over the past 12 months. The passenger ships have accounted for more than two million light displacement tons.

The largest of the arrivals was the Bahamas-flagged Karnika, a cruise ship operated by an Indian start-up that failed during the pandemic. Prior to that, from 2018 to 2019, it had been known as the Pacific Jewel.

Built by Fincantieri, the 69,845 gt cruise ship was introduced in 1990 as the Crown Princess of Princess Cruises.

It spent the last decade of her career cruising from Australia for P&O as the Pacific Jewel, before being sold in 2019 to India-based Jalesh Cruises.

Other well-known cruise ships that ended up at Alang included the Columbus, which was introduced in 1989 as the Star Princess. Columbus was operating for UK-based Cruise & Maritime Voyages, which collapsed during the pandemic, having bought the Columbus under a financing deal.

Two other cruise ships from the CMV fleet also arrived at Alang. after being sold at auction. These were the Marco Polo and the Magellan.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line sold its Grand Celebration, reducing its fleet to one cruise ship. Japan’s Peace Boat sold its Ocean Dream to the breakers in Alang. German cruise ship Albatros, built in 1973 as the Royal Viking Sea, also beached at Alang in July.

Two of the arrivals were cruise-ships-turned-casino ships. The Leisure World had been built in 1969 as the Skyward for Norwegian Caribbean Lines (NCL). It arrived in Alang in July 2021, to be followed in August by the Amusement World, which had been built in 1967 as a Swedish ferry.

Haresh Parmar of the Ship Recycling Industries Association said that cruise ships contained less steel relative to cargo ships and tankers arriving at Alang and as such they generally received lower prices. However, Parmar noted that, because many of the ships arriving this year had been the result of insolvencies and subsequent auction sales, they had arrived still loaded with valuable spare parts and furnishings.

Chinese buyers recently bought Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Fascination, stating that the idea was to use it as an accommodation ship. Recently however it moved to the anchorage at Colombo, Sri Lanka – often a final stop before a final trip to Alang. The ship’s name on the AIS signal was recently changed from Century Harmony by painting out the “Centur” and calling it Y Harmony.

Carnival reduced its fleet size significantly in 2020/21, and another vessel it sold to new owners for a never-realized cruise future was the Costa NeoRomantica, whichnever entered service for Louis Group’s Celestyal Cruises. It was sold on this summer and recently departed Greece, reportedly bound for China with an interim stop in Dubai. However, shipbrokers believed that the ship had also been sold for scrap.

Another purchase that hit the trade news headlines in the past year was the curious purchase by Greek ferry operator Seajet of three vintage cruise ships. It currently owns three 1990s-built ships originally owned by Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and Royal Caribbean. All three are currently idle in Greece, with an uncertain future.