MV Columbus, cruiseMV Columbus, cruiseMV Columbus is the latest one to arrive at Alang this week. (representational image)

Due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases, summer holiday plans are being jeopardized in Europe and other countries. Cruise ships that were idling for more than a year are once more making their way to the Alang shipbreaking yard in the state of Gujarat. MV Columbus is the latest one to arrive at Alang this week. The 32-year-old cruise liner was built at Saint-Nazaire in France. The ship could carry as many as 1,855 passengers and a crew of 700. A senior official from Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) was quoted in an IE report, saying that the cruise vessel was bought by NBM Iron and Steel Trading Private Limited, a shipbreaker at Alang.

The official further said that the vessel is yet to be beached and at present, it is at Alang’s outer anchorage. The cruise vessel has been named ‘MV Colus’ recently. According to the report, this is the second cruise vessel to be bought by NBM Iron and Steel Trading Private Limited. Earlier, ‘MV Ocean Dream’ was bought by the company which was one of the six cruise liners to have come to Alang between November 2020 and January 2021. In January, while four luxury cruises reached Alang for being dismantled, not a one came this year in the months of February and March.

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According to Nazir Kaliwala of NBM Iron and Steel Trading, not many cruise ships are being sold as scrap at the moment. Though due to COVID-19, the cruise industry has not yet opened up, the cruise ships’ owners are hesitant to sell as it is a huge loss. The ones who are suffering from mounting overheads or bank loans or losses end up selling their ships for scrap. The ones who are able to sustain, have continued to hold on to their ships in the hope that later this year, the cruise industry will revive, Kaliwala added.

MV Columbus, in later part of its journeys, was the flagship of CMV-Cruise Maritime Voyages, now defunct and operated out of homeport in Tilbury-London, the United Kingdom. In the year 2020, it was auctioned and was later bought by Cyprus-based shipping firm Seajets, which sold it for scrap. Developed in the year 1989, the cruise liner has 11 passenger decks out of a total of 13 with two swimming pools, four restaurants, eight bars, two Jacuzzis and as many as 12 elevators. Its last refurbishing was done in 2017.

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