Middle East Cruise News

After a single season in Dubai, the single Jalesh Cruises ship Karnika is scrapped in India

Jalesh Cruises’ only cruise ship, Karnika, has been beached for scrapping in Alang, India, after the cruise line was forced to declare bankruptcy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Karnika arrived off Alang this week and was beached ahead of her scrapping, after spending just one year with Jalesh Cruises before the coronavirus outbreak.

Karnika has been beached in Alang, India

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The pandemic brought the global cruise industry to standstill in March this year, forcing all cruise lines to put their ships in lay-up. The global emergency hit Jalesh Cruises particularly hard as its parent company was already facing mounting debts.

Jalesh Cruises was India’s only mainstream cruise line, targetting the domestic cruise market with Karnika, the former Pacific Jewel of P&O Australia.

The cruise line took delivery of the ship in March last year, and sent her into dry dock for an extensive dry dock that saw her public spaces modernised and revitalised. When she entered revenue service for the cruise line, Dubai was one of her first ports of call.

The ship arrived in the Middle East in September, 2019, becoming the first ever cruise ship to sail a summer Arabian Gulf cruise season.

Despite the summer heat, the cruise program was a resounding success, leading to speculation that a second ship might be acquired by the line and homeported in Dubai.

Karnika cruised several roundtrip itineraries from Dubai last year

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All extension plans were halted by the pandemic, however. Jalesh Cruises had announced earlier this year that it would soon be returning to service, but those plans were shelved after the Indian government failed to give permission for cruise services to resume.

The 30-year-old cruise ship was nearing the end of her service life when the pandemic struck. Launched in 1990 as Crown Princess for Princess Cruises, she was one of the oldest ships in the current global cruise fleet, and is one of several victims of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shutdown of Jalesh Cruises and scrapping of Karnika is another blow for the Middle East cruise sector, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus.

Dubai last month announced that the cruise sector would reopen this December, but of the eight cruise lines that homeported in Dubai last year, only two have confirmed they’ll be returning for the upcoming 2020/21 cruise season.

Although no itineraries had been confirmed, it was widely expected that Karnika would once more homeport in Dubai during 2021 when Jalesh Cruises returned to service.

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