'Ghost ships' in the Solent become the South's latest tourist attraction

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Richard Jones


The south coast has a new tourist attraction - a trip out to sea to view some of the many cruise liners which have been anchored off shore for months.

They have been dubbed the 'ghost ships' of an industry that has effectively been mothballed since the Covid-19 pandemic started.


They're just fascinated by the size. Even if you go to the Port of Southampton, you can't go up that close to a ship. The ship we went to the other day was 70m high and we were only 50m away and it was more than 1,000 feet long. It's a tremendous sight.

Paul Derham, Mudeford Ferry

Local ferries have been taking tourists out to see the so-called 'ghost ships'. Credit: ITV News Meridian

Official government advice still states that no one should step aboard a cruise ship.

The ban is having a serious impact on cruise companies, the people they employ, and the wider economy.


40,000

direct jobs are supported by the cruise industry

86%

of all UK cruises begin in Portsmouth or Southampton


Ben Murray from UK Maritime said that if cruise ships cannot operate then they "can't maintain their viability if they are not at sea".

He added: "There are few parts of the economy that have had to completely stop and that is bad for cruise lines and the staff who work for them."

The cruise industry has been hit hard by the pandemic.

2020 was due to be one of the busiest years for cruising with new ships arriving, millions of passengers due to sail, and new facilities being built. Much of that is now on hold.


£9.7 billion

pounds is how much the cruise industry generates for the UK economy

£2.9 million

is how much each cruise generates for the economy of the area


Carnival UK, which owns P&O and Cunard, has already cut 450 jobs at its Southampton HQ after cancelling around 150 cruises for up to 400,000 passengers.

Cruise ships are like towns at sea, so the same regulations for land-based restaurants, shops, pools, and spas will be in place on board.


There is likely to be other safety measures as well, which could include:

  • Gathering passenger information beforehand

  • Testing passengers before they board

  • Testing passengers at various stages of the cruise


Despite the pause in operations, cruise companies still expect high demand when the industry returns, with some customers already booking for 2021.

The industry hopes to reach an agreement with the government on safety protocols by the end of summer 2020.