When Cruise Ships become too old



What happens when a ship has put on too many cruise miles or is no longer a useful ship to the fleet? Do they poke a hole in it when they get to the center of the ocean and sink it? Where do ships go once they've done their time? Take for example Carnival's "Tropicale" , now here is a ship that was built in 1982 then sold to some other small cruise line , then once they are done and the ship can no longer be sold , where would they bury the thing?


In general, the ships are scrapped. The scrapper then takes the ship totally apart and sells as much as it can to scrap metal dealers, etc.

added: In some cases, old ships are docked permanently and are used as convention centers, hotels, restaurants, etc. The Queen Mary is an example of that. Currently, the city of Rotterdam is trying to acquire the S.S. Rotterdam for that purpose.



Mike.. I was speaking with an Indian guy here in my company who is now a PC programmer, but he understands what goes on, on those beaches, and what Greenpeace is trying to do. Now, in theory sure, they should probably stop breaking those ships until the lines clean up all the asbestos and the PCBs and these things, but the Indians are very, very poor, and they need to eat right now.

He says they are not worried about getting cancer 10 year from now. A shame it is. That whole situation.


Interesting pics 15K thks
It is also surprizing how many ships catch fire/break loose/etc. and sink as they are being towed to the breakers.


It's not unusual for cruise ships deemed too "old" for the American market to end up as cruise ships in other parts of the world. This can be an intermediate step for years prior to a ship ending up at the breakers. Not all areas of the world have safety requirements as stringent as SOLAS. Visiting the port of Piraeus, for example, can be a most interesting and enlightening experience for those who find cheap Eastern Mediterranean cruises..... Those ships can be dreadfully substandard.


Peter Knego and the kind folks over at www.maritimematters.com constantly run updates on which ships are "headed for the beach" i.e. the scrapyard.

Sadly, many of the classic old luxury liners have been reduced to their component parts, and either sold piecemeal or by the pound. My favorite, the "Oceanbreeze," went under the wrecker's ball last May.

Mark Moxon has a great article on what goes on at Alang, the largest and, some say, most dangerous of the breaker's yards.
The article can be found at :


Hope this is helpful.


Colo Cruiser

The breakers in India is in Alang. They beach the ships at full throttle and winch them toward the beach and start cutting them up. Takes a few months.

Jill B

They spruce them up a bit and send them to Australia! Like Carnival Jubilee. And another one, I think Costa Tropicale? is supposed to be coming here later this year.


Ships don't always have to be ancient to be rendered obsolete. The American market now caters to families and budget-conscious vacationers - the more paying passengers (someone has to ante up for these behemoths with all their bells and whistles), the better. The Tropicale (very small, continually breaking down) was transferred from Carnival to Costa, and sailed the European routes for several years. It will join the Jubilee in Australia. Celebrity has plans for the Horizon (with the Zenith likely to follow), and the Century will sail exclusively in European waters after this season. These vessels are ideal for such itineraries, as the larger ships could never navigate those waters.

Then again, there's the Premier fleet (just too old and too small), the Norway (not cost-effective to replace the blown engine), the SS United States (efforts to resurrect it fell far short of the required capital) and other casualties, many of which are rusting away in Nassau.

Of course, HAL sails several older ships, as much of its clientèle prefers them. They're expensive to maintain, but far less costly than a new ship. Carnival keeps the Celebration and Holiday around to open new markets; and they're both likely to go, once there are no more places to cruise from. It's just a matter of survival of the fittest, I guess.


BSeabob Wrote:
> > It is also surprizing how many ships catch
> fire/break loose/etc. and sink as they are being
> towed to the breakers.

How true, BSeabob. It's happened to some of my favorites, and it makes me wonder if ships have some kind of desire to be one with the sea for always. I remember when my beloved SeaBreeze sank in 2000, my first thought was, "Atta girl. You showed them that nobody's going to turn you into scrap metal." And then I cried, wondering who made $ off of her demise.


wow! you guys know your stuff... so its sold for scraps eventually huh... What is the typical life span of a cruise ship? Take the Tropical that is now the Costa Tropicale , it was built in '82 . She's 23 yrs old now. So obviously she's not as remarkable as some of these new ones getting built... Does the captain decide or who?



I agree with you viz: the work that Greenpeace and the other human rights groups are trying to do both at Alang and at Chittagong in Bangladesh, among other spots.
The working conditions there are simply horrific, like something out of Upton Sinclair and Ida Tarbell, with the pitiless subtropical heat leaching the energy out of your body from sunup to sundown.
Since each breaker's yard is run on the piecework system, the yard owners are looking ot scrap each ship as quickly as possible, and get on to the next one.
As such, safety concerns usually wind up in the third stack of three.

For the poor Indian workers who have to brave the dangers on the "platforms", the brutal choice is:

"Do I want to die of asbestos inhalation when I'm seventy, or starve to death when I'm twelve?"

The only thing more dangerous than working at Alang is your daily ride on the Indian bus that takes you to and from Alang.





and you'll see what I mean.