Cruise ships and COVID-19: Giant ships beached at scrapyard in Turkey, set to be broken up

With cruising all but suspended worldwide, videos have emerged of several large cruise ships being beached in Aliaga, Turkey to be scrapped.

The ships include MS Sovereign, formerly Sovereign of the Seas, considered by many to be the world's first "mega cruise ship" when it launched in 1988 with capacity for 2278 passengers.

Two other ships are seen in the videos, MS Monarch and Carnival Fantasy, with one clip showing the latter being driven aground in preparation for scrapping. A fourth ship, Carnival Inspiration, is also reportedly bound for the scrapyard.


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The owner of MS Sovereign and MS Monarch, Pullmantur Cruises, declared bankruptcy last month following the collapse of the cruise industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Royal Caribbean Group, which owns 49 per cent of Pullmantur Cruises, indicated last month the two ships would be sold.

MS Sovereign launched to great fanfare in the late '80s. At 73,529 gross tonnes and 268 metres long, it was the world's largest cruise ship at the time and kicked off a new era of giant cruise ships.

MS Monarch was also a "Sovereign Class" ship. Both operated under Royal Caribbean's banner before being transferred to Pullmantur in 2008.

A video posted on YouTube shows the Monarch being run aground from on board the ship's bridge.


Last month Carnival Cruises announced the sale of Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration as part of a place to reduce capacity and focus on newer ships. Two other ships, Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination, have been moved to "long-term lay-up status" with no set timeline for returning to operation.

Carnival recently announced it would delay its plans to resume cruising in Australian waters, cancelling six cruises scheduled between September 25 and October 29.

The cruise industry is largely suspended worldwide following the coronavirus outbreak, with several high-profile cases of infections spreading throughout ships and passengers being refused entry to ports for weeks.

The world's first international cruise line to resume sailing, Hurtigruten, suffered a setback after it was reported on Sunday 41 crew on board its ship, the Roald Amundsen, had been infected with COVID-19 following two cruises in Norway. Norway has announced a 14-day ban on cruise ships with more than 100 people docking at its ports.

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the cruise industry generates more than $200 billion in economic activity worldwide and supports more than 1 million jobs. In Australia, CLIA estimates if suspension of cruising continues into the summer peak, it could cost the economy $1.4 billion and put 4800 jobs at risk.

See also: Scrapped, sunk or reborn: Where old cruise ships go to die

See also: Sold for $870k: The saga of a cursed $35 million, five-star cruise ship