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Where Cruise Ships Are Sent to Die



Along the meandering industrial peninsula of Aliaga on Turkey’s Aegean coast, the contents of gutted vessels lay strewn on the dusty roadside, scattered among clusters of orange lifeboats that tower so high they obscure the dramatic scene unfolding in the shipyard below.

There, five mammoth cruise ships sit crammed into a muddied cove, as hundreds of workers chip away at their hulls and bows, exposing the intricate anatomies of the boats that once carried thousands of people around the world. Now, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to devastate the cruise industry, companies are downsizing their fleets and selling the ships for scrap.

“We’ve never seen anything like this,” said Kamil Onal, chairman of the Ship Recyclers’ Association of Turkey. “Before the pandemic we mainly dismantled cargo ships, but now this has become the fate for cruise ships after months of sitting idle without passengers.”

Among the ships being recycled at Aliaga, are three Carnival cruise liners — Inspiration, Imagination and Fantasy, which had just been refurbished in 2019. The world’s largest cruise company reported a loss of $2.9 billion in the quarter ending on Aug. 31 and announced that it would remove 13 of its older, less efficient ships from its global fleet.

The ship-breaking operation is evidence of how deeply the coronavirus pandemic has damaged the $150 billion global cruise industry. After widely publicized outbreaks on ships worldwide, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a no-sail order effective March 14 for all United States cruises, leaving nearly 350 vessels idled in open waters or in ports.

The order is set to expire on Oct. 31, after the White House intervened to keep it from being extended until February. But the C.D.C. recommends that travelers defer all cruise travel worldwide.

“Cruise passengers are at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including Covid-19, and outbreaks of Covid-19 have been reported on several cruise ships,” the agency said.

The outbreaks took place on boats that had resumed operations in Europe, with heightened health protocols and a requirement for testing, and included eight people on board the Costa Diadema who tested positive for the coronavirus earlier this month.

Costa Cruises, which is part of Carnival Corporation, said the incident showed how its safety protocols had been effective, allowing them to detect and safely manage positive cases before embarkation and during the cruise. All major cruise lines with a capacity to carry more than 250 passengers have committed to requiring a negative test before boarding, once the no-sail order is lifted, according to the Cruise Lines International Association, the industry’s trade group.

A cacophony of screeching metal, banging and clunking engulfs the shipyard as the ships are ripped apart deck by deck, with stateroom walls torn away and the amenities — gyms, theaters, discos — broken into pieces and carted away.

Nearly 2,000 workers have been employed to strip the five cruise ships of machinery, electronic equipment, glass, wood and other materials that can be reused or repurposed.

“Everything is taken out piece by piece, from the light bulb to the piano and swimming pool to the golf course,” said Mr. Onal, looking out his office window at a group of workers cutting metal scraps from the ships. “It’s a momentous task that will take up to eight months for each ship and they will continue until there is nothing left.”

He pointed to a single square of steel bobbing up and down in the water — the remains of an engine room in a cargo ship. “That’s what the cruise ships will look like toward the end,” he said.

After an intensive review, the Carnival Cruise Line group said it had selected two ship-recycling facilities in Turkey to dismantle its ships because of their track records of compliance with national and international environmental agreements, including the Hong Kong Convention for the Safe and Environmentally Sound Recycling of Ships. Mr. Onal said there was also a financial incentive because the Turkish recycling firms made a better offer than other global ship recycling facilities, but neither party would disclose how much the shipyard paid.

The shipyard will then sell off the more than 1.1. million tons of steel it expects to remove from the ships by the end of the year.

“Our highest responsibility and top priorities are compliance, environmental protection, and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, the communities we visit and our crew,” Bill Burke, chief maritime officer for Carnival Corporation, said in an email. “That commitment extends to our cruise ships, starting from the moment a ship becomes part of our fleet and continuing all the way through to its retirement.”

Last year, Carnival Corporation and its Princess subsidiary paid a $20 million fine for illegal dumping and other environmental violations.

The contents of the dismantled ships are in high demand among antiques brokers and private collectors in the area, who have been placing bids on the most valuable items.

“Don’t take notice of how the ships look now on the outside,” said Noyan Yurttas, co-owner of the Iskele Marine, a nautical antiques store opposite the shipyard. He was referring to the giant gashes torn out of the ships’ hull. “It’s a treasure chest in there.”

Hotels and corporations have bought most of the furniture from the ships, including tables, chairs and room fittings, Mr. urttas said, but antiques brokers have their sights set on the baroque lighting fixtures and wardrobes that weigh nearly 100 pounds.

“These are not regular ships; they are luxurious floating museums with many precious items inside,” he said with an excited smile as he sat in his store full of shiny bronze nautical antiques, including clocks, ornate light fixtures and maps. Other brokers in the area have collected articles like life jackets, lamps, sinks and art for people interested in purchasing cruise memorabilia.

“We have mainly seen local collectors and customers this year because of the pandemic, but normally tourists come here from all over the world to buy the items from the ships,” Mr. Yurttas said.

Photos and videos of the ships’ dismantling have been circulating on social media, and for cruise enthusiasts it has been hard to watch, even from a distance. At 30 years old, the Carnival Fantasy is the oldest vessel in the Carnival Cruise line fleet, and was popular among older people for its smaller scale and familiarity.

“I was heartbroken to see the ships sold off and scrapped like that,” said Maggie Hetherington, 74, a retired nurse from Norwich in southeast England who has taken several cruises on the Fantasy and its sister ship Inspiration. “They look like they’ve been attacked by a pack of wolves.”

Ms. Hetherington said she understood the economic considerations of the cruise companies but believes there will still be a demand for older ships once the pandemic is over.

“Not everyone is into the big new high-tech ships, as impressive as they may be,” she said. “The Fantasy’s décor may be a little dated, but there is something appealing about walking into a smaller ship, hanging your hat and knowing your way around,” she added. “There’s also the element of nostalgia.”

Derek Watson, 69, an avid cruiser from Liverpool in northern England took his first Caribbean cruise on the Fantasy. He said that such iconic ships should be phased out gradually and fans of the vessels should be allowed to take tours or book final excursions before they are scrapped.

“It’s just sad that these ships are being dismantled before having one last hurrah,” Mr. Watson said. “It’s hard to stay optimistic and get excited about future cruises when so many are being retired at the same time.”

When exactly those future cruises will sail is hard to predict. Royal Caribbean Cruises, another of the industry’s biggest companies and which also sent two ships to be recycled in Aliaga this year, has teamed up with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings and a panel of medical experts to establish safety measures that would allow cruising to return.

Last month, the panel submitted a list of 74 detailed recommendations to the C.D.C., including testing, capacity reduction, face coverings and enhanced sanitation procedures. The cruise executives said they were confident that cruises could resume safely if all the health and safety protocols were applied.

But the cases aboard the Costa Diadema cropped up despite testing after passengers took shore excursions on the Greek Islands. The guests were asymptomatic and tested positive upon re-entry into Italy.

And the optimistic outlook from executives as they prepare to bounce back from the crisis is at odds with the backdrop of destruction and debris at the Aliaga shipyard. Mr. Onal said they were expecting more cruise ships to arrive over the next few months.

“There’s a lot of interest, it’s going to be a busy year ahead,” he said.

By: Ceylan Yeginsu
Title: Where Cruise Ships Are Sent to Die
Sourced From:
Published Date: Fri, 30 Oct 2020 09:00:28 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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