a large ship in a body of water

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Cruising fans don’t have many options these days for getting aboard a cruise ship. But now they at least can get up close to one — assuming they can get themselves to the U.K.

A ferry company based near the cruise hub of Southampton, England, has started up “ghost ship tours” to take tourists to see all the empty cruise vessels that have been anchored offshore during the cruising shutdown.

Christchurch, England-based Mudeford Ferry is offering the two-and-a-half-hour outings on days when the weather isn’t too windy. The trips begin at Mudeford Quay in Christchurch and take place on a 20-person vessel that’s normally used for ferry service in the area.

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Christchurch is about 24 miles from Southampton, which is one of Europe’s biggest cruise departure ports.

Among the ships that have been anchored off Christchurch in recent months in what is known as Poole Bay are Cunard Line’s Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria; and P&O Cruises’ Britannia, Aurora, Arcadia and Ventura. As of this week, there also were three Marella Cruises vessels in the mix and even a Carnival Cruise Line ship, Carnival Valor.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles

a large body of water: Cruise ships operated by Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and other cruise operators anchored off the coast of England this week. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

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Cruise ships operated by Cunard Line, P&O Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line and other cruise operators anchored off the coast of England this week. (Photo by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images)

The Carnival Valor, notably, is far from its normal home. The ship usually sails out of New Orleans. Carnival has sent some of its ships on long voyages around the world to repatriate crew to their home countries, and some of the vessels remain anchored in far-off lands.

Two Royal Caribbean ships — Anthem of the Seas and Allure of the Seas — also are anchored just a few miles away from the other vessels off the coast of Bournemouth, England. A Norwegian Cruise Line vessel, Norwegian Star, is not far away along the waterfront of Southampton.

Mudeford Ferry says passengers on its tours are getting unobstructed views of the giant vessels from very close up. The company says it’s allowed to approach within 50 meters (about 164 feet) of the ships.

A photo the company posted on Facebook this week showed ghost ship tourists ogling one of the P&O Cruises vessels from just in front of its bow.

The tours cost 20 British pounds for adults (about $26) and 10 British pounds for children (about $13). There’s no food or drink on board, but passengers can bring their own and make a picnic out of it.

None of the vessels that are anchored off the coast of England have sailed with passengers since March when the entire cruise industry shut down due to the coronavirus outbreak.

While some cruising has resumed in parts of Europe, ships still aren’t sailing out of the U.K. Cruising also remains on hold out of North America ports.

The ships that are anchored off the coast of England aren’t complete ghost ships. While there are no passengers on board and most crew members have been sent home, the vessels still are manned by a small staff who maintain machinery and monitor safety equipment.

Planning a cruise for the coming year? These stories will help:

Featured image by Finnbarr Webster/Getty Images

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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