Cruise vessels forced to be taken out of service due to the coronavirus pandemic are becoming a local hit on the English Channel where the ships are anchored.
An entrepreneurial local has create a micro tourism industry with “ghost ship tours” – chartered services operated by ferry that take travellers on 2.5-hour tours to within 50 metres of anchored cruise vessels.
Advertising through his Mudeford Ferry Facebook page, Paul Derham noticed that some of the world’s most famous cruise ships were being laid up near his ferries’ routes, as reported by CNN Travel, due to the coronavirus pandemic pausing cruise operations around the world.
Derham, who happens to have worked on cruise ships for 27 years, starting off as a cadet and later travelling the world as a deputy captain for P&O Cruises, then came up with the idea to offer tours of the vessels with his two local ferries at Mudeford in England.
Needless to say, the movement has become an overnight success, with Derham inundated with interest from locals – and from cruise fanatics across the world – letting him know how excited they are by the idea, according to CNN Travel.
“I am completely overwhelmed with the attention,” Derham told the news outlet. “And a little bit proud, without being big-headed, that we managed to pull it off.”
One of the ships on display during the ex-deputy captain’s tours is Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, one of the largest passenger vessels in the world, which measures 1,187 feet long and accommodates up to 6,687 people.
“They look spectacular, because even when they’re in the ports of call, like Southampton or wherever, you can’t get that close to a ship, with a good view,” Derham said.
According to CNN Travel, many of the travellers who book on the tour are keen cruisers. Recently, he hosted a couple who’d been on board Allure of the Seas earlier this year.
“As we went past, one of them said, ‘Blimey, I can still get their WiFi,'” Derham said.
Featured image source: Facebook/Mudeford Ferry