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Photos of abandoned, stripped cruise ships show how deeply the cruise industry is sinking

November 22, 2020
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Ship breaking cruise ships turkey
After the shipbreaking process, not a single scrap remains. Mehmet Emin Menguarslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
  • Photos of unused cruise ships getting stripped for parts show how the cruise industry is struggling amid the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Maintaining cruise ships that aren’t in use is very expensive, so many cruise companies are selling part of their fleet for scrap.

  • Since the pandemic hit, the number of cruise ships being dismantled for scrap has increased.

  • Because many shipyards had to close due to lockdowns, there’s a waiting list for cruise ships to get dismantled around the world.

  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Related: How the Navy’s largest hospital ship can help with the coronavirus

The travel industry is hurting as the coronavirus pandemic ravages on, but the US cruise industry, in particular, has been hard hit.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a no-sail order in March, which it changed to a “conditional sailing” one on November 1. This means that cruises could accept passengers, but only after making significant changes to their health and safety protocols. Most cruise companies voluntarily renewed the no-sail order through 2020 as they figure out these new measures.

Ahead of the coronavirus pandemic, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, which represents 95% of the global cruising industry, projected that 32 million passengers would set sail in 2020 and that the industry was creating an economic impact of $53 billion in the US, and $150 billion worldwide.

The CLIA now estimates that “each day of the suspension of cruise operations in the US results in a total loss of approximately $110 million in economic activity and up to 800 American jobs.”

For the shipbreaking industry, however, this means big business.

Photos of cruise ships being dismantled into scrap metal at bustling shipbreaking yards around the world illustrate just how deeply the cruise industry is hurting right now.

An aerial view of cruise ships being broken down for scrap metal at the Aliaga Ship Recycling Facility in Turkey. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Cruise ships ship breaking yard TurkeyCruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey

The Aliaga Ship Recycling Facility in Turkey is currently dismantling five cruise ships. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Cruise ships ship breaking yard TurkeyCruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey

Two of the five cruise ships at the Aliaga Ship Recycling Facility in Turkey have already started getting scrapped. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Cruise ships ship breaking yard TurkeyCruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey

Cruise ships are scrapped by hand. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Cruise ships ship breaking yard TurkeyCruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey

A worker uses a blowtorch to cut metal from a ship at a shipbreaking yard in Yangon, Myanmar. YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images

A worker uses a blowtorch to cut metal from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018.A worker uses a blowtorch to cut metal from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018.
A worker uses a blowtorch to cut metal from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018.

Carnival is cutting 18 ships from its fleet as a result of the pandemic. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Cruise ships ship breaking yard TurkeyCruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey

Workers at a shipbreaking yard in Jakarta, Indonesia. Anton Raharjo/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Workers demolish old ships at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.Workers demolish old ships at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.
Workers demolish old ships at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.

Cruise ships are so large they can take many months to break down. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Cruise ships ship breaking yard TurkeyCruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey

A side-by-side view of two cruise ships in different stages of demolition at the Aliaga Ship Recycling Facility in Turkey. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Cruise ships ship breaking yard TurkeyCruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey

The dismantled steering cabin of a French Navy vessel at the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent, Belgium. Francois Lenoir/AP

The dismantled steering cabin of a French navy vessel is seen the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent February 25, 2015.The dismantled steering cabin of a French navy vessel is seen the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent February 25, 2015.
The dismantled steering cabin of a French navy vessel is seen the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent February 25, 2015.

A worker welds part of a ship at a shipbreaking yard in Mumbai, India. Himanshu Bhatt/NurPhoto/Getty Images

A worker welds part of a ship at a ship-breaking yard in Mumbai, India on 23 September 2019.A worker welds part of a ship at a ship-breaking yard in Mumbai, India on 23 September 2019.
A worker welds part of a ship at a ship-breaking yard in Mumbai, India on 23 September 2019.

Workers at a shipbreaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan. AKHTAR SOOMRO/AP

Labourers work without protective gear to separate parts of a ship for scrap metal at ship-breaking yard in Gadani, Baluchistan provinceLabourers work without protective gear to separate parts of a ship for scrap metal at ship-breaking yard in Gadani, Baluchistan province
Labourers work without protective gear to separate parts of a ship for scrap metal at ship-breaking yard in Gadani, Baluchistan province

Looking deep into the bowels of a cruise ship in the middle of getting dismantled in Turkey. Mehmet Emin Menguarslan/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Ship breaking in TurkeyShip breaking in Turkey
Ship breaking in Turkey

A makeshift cable carriage at a shipbreaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan. Akhtar Soomro/AP

Labourers transport supplies to a ship by a makeshift cable carriage to separate it into scrap metal at the Gaddani shipbreaking yard early in the morning, about 60 km (37 miles) from Karachi November 25, 2011.Labourers transport supplies to a ship by a makeshift cable carriage to separate it into scrap metal at the Gaddani shipbreaking yard early in the morning, about 60 km (37 miles) from Karachi November 25, 2011.
Labourers transport supplies to a ship by a makeshift cable carriage to separate it into scrap metal at the Gaddani shipbreaking yard early in the morning, about 60 km (37 miles) from Karachi November 25, 2011.

The shipbreaking process usually starts in the ship’s bow. Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Cruise ships ship breaking yard TurkeyCruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey
Cruise ships ship breaking yard Turkey

A worker at a shipbreaking yard in Jakarta, Indonesia. Anton Raharjo/NurPhoto/Getty Images

A worker gains a metal from a demolished old ships at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.A worker gains a metal from a demolished old ships at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.
A worker gains a metal from a demolished old ships at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.

A worker carries a metal sheet dismantled from a ship at a shipbreaking yard in Yangon, Myanmar. YE AUNG THU/AFP via Getty Images

A worker carries a metal sheet dismantled from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018A worker carries a metal sheet dismantled from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018
A worker carries a metal sheet dismantled from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018

A crane helps dismantle a ship at the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent, Belgium. Francois Lenoir/AP

A crane is seen lifting a container near a French seismic vessel which is soon to be dismantled at the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent March 23, 2015A crane is seen lifting a container near a French seismic vessel which is soon to be dismantled at the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent March 23, 2015
A crane is seen lifting a container near a French seismic vessel which is soon to be dismantled at the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent March 23, 2015

Workers carry a metal sheet dismantled from a ship at a shipbreaking yard in Yangon, Myanmar. YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images

Workers carry a metal sheet dismantled from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018.Workers carry a metal sheet dismantled from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018.
Workers carry a metal sheet dismantled from a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 26, 2018.

A worker uses a cutting torch on a large block cut from a vessel at the Galloo ship recycling plant in Ghent, Belgium. Francois Lenoir

ShipbreakingShipbreaking
Shipbreaking

Workers at a shipbreaking yard in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Maruf Hossain Rafi/NurPhoto/Getty Images

A Painter paint on a long ship at Keraniganj, Dhaka, Bangladesh on 18 February 2018. When it comes to shipping, Bangladesh is known mostly as a shipbreaking nation, with dozens of ageing container vessels heading towards its southern coast for scrap. However, in recent years it has also emerged as a shipbuilding country.A Painter paint on a long ship at Keraniganj, Dhaka, Bangladesh on 18 February 2018. When it comes to shipping, Bangladesh is known mostly as a shipbreaking nation, with dozens of ageing container vessels heading towards its southern coast for scrap. However, in recent years it has also emerged as a shipbuilding country.
A Painter paint on a long ship at Keraniganj, Dhaka, Bangladesh on 18 February 2018. When it comes to shipping, Bangladesh is known mostly as a shipbreaking nation, with dozens of ageing container vessels heading towards its southern coast for scrap. However, in recent years it has also emerged as a shipbuilding country.

Workers climb down from decommissioned Indian Navy ship at a shipbreaking yard in Mumbai, India. Danish Siddiqu/Reuters

Workers climb down from decommissioned Indian Navy Ship INS Vikrant at a ship breaking yard in Mumbai Workers climb down from decommissioned Indian Navy Ship INS Vikrant at a ship breaking yard in Mumbai, India, November 24, 2014.Workers climb down from decommissioned Indian Navy Ship INS Vikrant at a ship breaking yard in Mumbai Workers climb down from decommissioned Indian Navy Ship INS Vikrant at a ship breaking yard in Mumbai, India, November 24, 2014.
Workers climb down from decommissioned Indian Navy Ship INS Vikrant at a ship breaking yard in Mumbai Workers climb down from decommissioned Indian Navy Ship INS Vikrant at a ship breaking yard in Mumbai, India, November 24, 2014.

A burning oil tanker at a shipbreaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan. Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

A man takes photo of his colleague with a mobile phone on the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani A man takes photo of his colleague with a mobile phone on the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.A man takes photo of his colleague with a mobile phone on the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani A man takes photo of his colleague with a mobile phone on the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.
A man takes photo of his colleague with a mobile phone on the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani A man takes photo of his colleague with a mobile phone on the burning oil tanker at the ship-breaking yard in Gaddani, Pakistan, November 2, 2016.

Workers dismantle a ship at a shipbreaking yard in Yangon, Myanmar. YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images

Workers dismantle a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 24, 2018.Workers dismantle a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 24, 2018.
Workers dismantle a ship at a ship-breaking yard on the bank of the Yangon River in Yangon on May 24, 2018.

A worker at a shipbreaking yard in Jakarta, Indonesia. Anton Raharjo/NurPhoto/Getty Images

A worker welds a part of an old Ship to get a metal at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.A worker welds a part of an old Ship to get a metal at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.
A worker welds a part of an old Ship to get a metal at a shipbreaking yards Kalibaru in Jakarta, Indonesia on September 27, 2018.

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