The huge cruise ships making Dorset their home 

Cruise ships at Weymouth Bay

Cruise ships at Weymouth Bay - Credit: Andreboeni, Flickr, CC BY 2.0

Have you spotted the giant cruise ships that have parked up at Weymouth Bay?

Many people will finally find themselves able to enjoy the sun in the coming weeks and months. A break in the cold weather as spring moves on its merry way, alongside reduced Covid restrictions, mean a beach day is definitely in order. But coast goers may notice a slight change on the horizon, as a handful of towering cruise ships are calling the Dorset coast home for the foreseeable future. 

With cruises not an option for now, the ships that would normally take thousands of people around the world have to go somewhere. They began arriving all the way back in July 2020 and are now floating on the outskirts of Weymouth Bay. According to CruiseMapper, the ships onlookers can see are the Britannia, Queen Elizabeth, and Aurora which are operated by P&O and Cunard. Between them, they can house over 9000 guests, not to mention a huge crew. The bay offers plenty of protection from changing weather and is the perfect spot for an extended stay.  

The cruise ships are a pretty incredible sight, even from the shore. They break up the otherwise unimpeded skyline in an impressive manner and are a nice change from the tankers and cargo ships occasionally visible from the Weymouth and Portland coast. 

Britannia is the largest of the three ships docked in the safety of the bay. For scale, the ship is as long as roughly 33 football pitches, and can house the equivalent of the population of Lyme Regis. On board, there are 11 restaurants and 15 bars, a library, four pools, and even an art gallery. Usually, the ship would be heading back from the Caribbean by now and then preparing for its cruise around the Mediterranean. However, it's unlikely this will be possible until at least next year.  

While it might be tempting to canoe or paddle out to take a closer look, visitors are advised this is prohibited and dangerous. A 50-metre exclusion zone was announced early on after the ships arrived by the Dorset Marine Policing Team, in order to keep people safe. So whilst photos are a must whilst on your costal walk or trip to the beach, use your zoom instead.

This is because the ships are not actually fully shut down. It can be very difficult to restart cruise ships of this size and they are left running at minimal level even when not in use. Also, ships of this size often have dynamic anchoring to keep them in place which uses thrusters to maintain a location so they are constantly moving ever so slightly.  Whilst they may look deserted during the day, visitors will notice that this is not the case at night. As the evening draws in, the boats are lit up as the skeleton staff continue to live on the boat and perform any maintenance.  

These new residents to the county are certainly a sign of the times we are living in and it may be a while before they can sail on their way. That said, they are a pretty immense addition to our already fantastic coastline and well worth a look at through the binoculars if you’re passing. 

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