Could idle cruise ships become pop-up hotels at UK seaside resorts?

Marella Explorer and Holland-America’s Zaandam are barely a mile from shore of the Devon resort

Sailing by? The cruise ships currently off the coast of Torbay in South Devon
Sailing by? The cruise ships currently off the coast of Torbay in South Devon

Cruise ships that are currently anchored and idle off the UK coast should temporarily become pop-up hotels, a seaside council leader has said.

Steve Darling, the Liberal Democrat leader of Torbay Council in Devon, has called for cruise lines whose vessels are moored in the bay to consider opening them for overnight guests to help relieve the demand for holidays in the southwest.

At present almost all of the world’s 270 pre-pandemic cruise ships are idle, with a significant number of them at anchor off the south coast of England.

Marella Explorer and Holland-America’s MS Zaandam are barely a mile from shore, while Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, Marella Explorer 2 and P&O CruisesArcadia and Ventura are just north, off the coast between Babbacombe and Teignmouth.

Mr Darling told The Independent: “In any normal summer I think I’d get a lot of grief from local accommodation providers by suggesting additional capacity, but with so much uncertainty about international travel this summer they are all likely to sell out.

Read more: 

“In what could be an extremely busy summer, you can’t just magic up additional capacity.

“When we’re thinking ‘How can we build some pop-up capacity?’ it’s already on the doorstep.

“We could also build relationships with a couple of cruise lines so they may call at Torbay in future.”

With no harbour capable of handling cruise ships, vessels are obliged to use tenders to get passengers ashore.

CruiseTimetables.com currently shows just two cruise ships scheduled to call in Torbay in 2021: the German vessel Artania on 31 May, 7 July and 23 September, and Silver Spirit of Silversea on 26 September. 

Mr Darling said the cruise ships currently at anchor have become part of the community, with locals collecting Christmas presents for the skeleton crew on board.

The council leader rejected the suggestion that increasing overnight guests could add further pressure to Torbay’s limited resources. 

“We are going to have hordes of people pitching up here anyway. If someone from the Midlands is unable to book, they may come down for a day.”

A spokesperson for Marella, the cruise operation owned by Tui, said: “Our main focus is maintaining our ships to return to service for our customers as soon as we possibly can.”

Since the 1980s, cruise ships have been deployed to provide accommodation at major sporting events including the Winter Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi in 2014 and the summer Games in Rio.

They are also expected to be drafted in for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

There are relatively few examples around the world of cruise ships becoming permanent accommodation.

Two former Cunard liners, Queen Mary and the QE2, are currently floating hotels – in Long Beach, California and Dubai respectively.

But Katie King, former director of marketing for the QE2 in Dubai, said: “The QE2 is one of the world’s most famous ocean liners afloat, with a history and story spanning more than 50 years.

“It’s hard for any modern ocean liner to ever offer such a cultural experience steeped in heritage.  If the QE2 wasn’t the QE2 , would she have been a successful project? The answer is, not likely. She was bought and restored because she is the QE2.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in