Cruise History

Historical: Ten most beautiful or creepiest ship wrecks in the world

There are thousands of shipwrecks all over the world, but most of them are underwater, and those that were above the surface have since been broken up by the ravages of wind, tide and wave.

For a few, however, the devastating march of time has been less harsh and they remain stranded in their final resting places, towering monuments to lost dreams and failed ambition.

Here are our Top 10 beautiful or creepy shipwrecks.




American Star, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain – Credit: Dreamstime (Eg004713)

Image taken from “Abandoned Wrecks” by Chris McNab, published by Amber Books Ltd., which is available from bookshops and online booksellers.

Built in 1940, the American Star ship was wrecked after it broke away from tow ships during a storm.




Bay of Ensenada, Mexico – Credit: Depositphotos (Dellfoto)

Image taken from “Abandoned Wrecks” by Chris McNab, published by Amber Books Ltd., which is available from bookshops and online booksellers.

Sea lions rest on the decaying deck of a tourist ship in Mexico’s Bay of Ensenada.




Desdemona, Cabo San Pablo, Patagonia, Argentina – Credit: Dreamstime (Veronika Peskova)

Image taken from “Abandoned Wrecks” by Chris McNab, published by Amber Books Ltd., which is available from bookshops and online booksellers.

The Desdemona cargo ship was grounded in 1985, and shows very little structural damage.

RELATED: Historical: what happened to South Africa’s cruise ships?

RELATED: Cruise Lifestyle: Glossary of cruise industry terms and nautical jargon



Rose, Montenegro – Credit: Dreamstime (Peter Lasovic)

Image taken from “Abandoned Wrecks” by Chris McNab, published by Amber Books Ltd., which is available from bookshops and online booksellers.

A wreaked fishing boat off the Montenegrin coast.




SS Ayrfield, Homebush Bay, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia – Credit: Dreamstime (Benny Marty)

Image taken from “Abandoned Wrecks” by Chris McNab, published by Amber Books Ltd., which is available from bookshops and online booksellers.

After being used in both WWI and WWII, the SS Ayrfield was broken apart in the 1970s. The hull now rests in Homebush Bay near Sydney, Australia.




The Duke of Lancaster started its life as a passenger ferry and cruise liner between 1956 and 1979, when silver service was the norm.

Its last voyage was in 1978 and it was sold to a Liverpool-based company whose intention was to reopen its doors as a dry docked leisure centre attraction.

It was beached at Llanerch-y-Mor in Flintshire in 1979, when the intention was to turn it into a floating leisure and retail complex called The Fun Ship, but the plan never saw the light of day and it remains there still, far from the waters she used to ply.

RELATED: Historical: The first passenger ship with electric lights

RELATED: Cruise Industry: Cruise ships must do more to counter terror attacks



The Yugoslav-built MV Lyubov Orlova was an ice-strengthened Mariya Yermolova-class cruise ship launched in 1976 with the purpose of exploiting the lucrative Antarctic and Alaskan cruise market, which it did quite successfully.

Originally owned by the Soviet Union-based Far East Shipping Company, the Lyubov Orlova began to show her age in the early 2000’s and by 2010 had been seized and impounded in St. Johns, Newfoundland due to mounting debts.

In February of 2012, the Lyubov Orlova was sold to Neptune International Shipping who planned to tow it down to the Dominican Republic to be broken up for scrap.

Legalities being what they are, the ship and its tugboat tow didn’t get under way until late January of 2013. Newfoundland winter weather being what it is, the tow rope snapped after just one day at sea and the Lyubov Orlova was on its own, unpowered and at the mercy of wind and waves.

Declaring the vessel to be a danger to nearby offshore oil platforms, Transport Canada sent another tug out to secure the rogue ship, tow it further east into international waters, and cut it loose…

MV Lyubov Orlova was last seen on February 23rd of 2013 drifting 1,300 miles off the western coast of Ireland. On March 1st, a signal was received from the Lyubov Orlova’s emergency position-indicating radio beacon indicating it was 700 nautical miles off the Kerry coast.

Since EPIRBs are programmed to broadcast automatically when exposed to seawater, it’s presumed the ship may have sunk. But it could still be out there, alone and in darkness, drifting in the North Atlantic among the ghosts of other forgotten liners.




The Dutch-built jumbo passenger & vehicle ferry Free Enterprise III began regular cross-Channel service between Dover and Calais almost as soon as it slid down the slipways in 1966. In 1984 and after a long and incident-free career, the ship was sold to a Maltese concern and was renamed the Tamira.

A second stint on the English Channel as the Mona’s Isle beginning in April of 1985 didn’t work out and the ship was laid up in October 1985 and subsequently sold to Egypt’s Sadaka Shipping group in 1986.

Renamed the Al Fahad, the ferry performed with aplomb until 2004 when she ran aground on a famously dangerous reef near Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where she joined a host of other grounded, abandoned and forgotten hulks blistering in the Arabian sun.




The MS World Discoverer was a cruise ship designed for and built by Schichau Unterweser, Germany in 1974. During construction called BEWA Discoverer, the ship was completed in Bremerhaven, Germany. In 1976 she was sold to Adventure Cruises who used her as a Polar expedition cruise ship thanks to a double-hull.

The ship conducted cruises in the Southern Hemisphere and visited places like Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, Chile and Argentina. From March to May and August to October, the ship cruised the South Pacific Islands. Between the months of June and August, the ship cruised around the Alaskan region and also the Russian border around the Bering Sea.

On April 30, 2000 the ship struck a large uncharted rock or reef in the Sandfly Passage, Solomon Islands and began to take on water. Captain Oliver Kruess ordered all passengers and crew to abandon ship and a nearby ferry came to their aid.

The captain stayed aboard after the evacuation and brought the ship into Roderick Bay, where he grounded it to avoid sinking. After underwater surveying of the ship, the World Discoverer was declared a “constructive loss”. The ship has remained in Roderick Bay ever since, sitting derelict and abandoned at a 46-degree angle.




It was once the fourth-largest lake in the world. Now it’s mostly a toxic desert. It covers an area over half the size of Iceland.

Situated in Central Asia, the Aral Sea was once a vast oasis amid an even vaster area of dry land.

Since 1960, the Aral Sea has shrunk by over 50 percent. Once a freshwater lake, it is now over twice as salty as the average ocean. Once the source for one sixth of the Soviet Union’s seafood, it is now an aquatic graveyard. Huge boats lie marooned in the desert. The lake dried up so fast that boat owners didn’t think to relocate their ships until it was too late.

The sea used to cool the air for miles around. Now the local climate is hotter and drier in the summer and colder for longer in the winter. The surrounding region, already dry, is becoming a hard desert.

Categories: Cruise History

Leave a Reply