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Air and cruise lines: Out of parking space?


With near-complete shutdowns in the cruise industry and super-deep cuts in flight schedules, cruise lines and airlines are faced with a novel problem: parking space for idled ships and planes.

It may be easier for the airlines; with fewer flights, there's more ground space available for parking at airports, especially at former hubs such as Pittsburgh. On the other hand, the biggest U.S. airlines are clustering idled planes at or near their maintenance hubs, where they can be cared for or planned upgrades can be done, or in desert areas in the southwest where low humidity helps keep the planes ready to return to the air.

For cruise lines, the problem is trickier; most of the port cities they serve have dock space for only a few ships; normally departures are staggered with a ship spending one or at most two days in port for every six or seven at sea. But now, with cruises curtailed and passengers needing to be unloaded, many ships are turning around as soon as they have unloaded to make room for others. About 40 ships are believed still at sea and needing to return to the U.S.

One result of the pier crunch is that cities that normally see one ship every now and then are sheltering several idled ships. Jacksonville, Florida is acting as a backup for Miami; Gulfport, Mississippi has a few, others are being ferried to Caribbean ports and lines with private islands are docking some ships there.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

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Along with end to end as shown in the photo, ships could also park side to side & instantly expand capacity.  In Egypt the cruise boats do just that every day as there are lots of cruises & little dock space at stops along the Nile.  Passengers walk through adjacent boats' lobbies to get on & off.  With no passengers, crew could certainly find a way.

Ah, the problems of sample illustration! The stock photo used doesn’t necessarily reflect the situation in all ports. In some, capacity is limited because space that doesn’t block channels is limited; in some others shore facilities are limited. These issues are especially severe for the super-sized 5-and 6-thousand passenger ships.

"The stock photo used doesn’t necessarily reflect the situation in all ports."

Of course it doesn't, nor did I mean to imply all ships in all ports (nor was the suggestion really meant to be taken all that seriously).  I have no doubt there are many reasons why it couldn't be done.  I just loved the mental image of giant ships tied up alongside one another as they do boats in many developing parts of the world & from whom we 1st worlders might learn from in times like this.

Last edited by PortMoresby
The side-by-side porting on river cruises can be interesting. Last spring on our Viking Rhine cruise we were at one point moored side-by-side with another Viking (identical) ship, walking through the other to reach ours. One couple from ours got confused and had lunch on the other before they realized they didn’t recognize any of the other passengers…
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