This is why cruise ships are still sailing in the Firth of Forth despite coronavirus shutdown
On a sunny day at the weekend the first cruise ship of the season anchored at Hound Point, just off South Queensferry.
While a little early in the year, locals are well used to seeing cruise ships in the area, bringing tourists from far and wide to visit the capital.
Except that Fred Olsen cruises, which owns this ship, the Balmoral, has suspended operations until May 23 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Ports all over the world have closed to cruise ships, after a total of 27, including the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess have been affected by Covid-19 infections.
Many Edinburgh locals have taken to social media to ask why the ships are there.
“There are still cruise ships moving up the Forth, but too far out to detect if business as usual. You’d require press gangs now, surely? To secure any passengers at all?” wrote one person on Twitter.
“Curious as to why they seem to have settled where they have,” another user added.
“For the last few days cruise ships have been up and down the Forth like yoyos,” said another.
A spokesperson for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines confirmed to the Edinburgh Evening News that three of the company’s ships, the Balmoral, Black Watch, and Boudicca, are currently at anchor in the Forth Estuary.
There are no passengers on board, and just a skeleton crew.
The reason the ships have often been seen travelling in and out to Hound Point is for crew members to disembark and travel to the airport for flights home.
Forth Ports, which manages Leith, Grangemouth and Rosyth ports, said in a statement:
“We are providing safe anchorages for three Fred Olsen vessels in the River Forth with one more to arrive soon.
“No passengers on board, only a skeleton cred while they are not operational. The Balmoral, Black Watch and Boudicca have had no impact from Covid-19 virus.”
Fred Olsen ship the Braemar became stranded in the Caribbean last week after five people on board tested positive for coronavirus, leading several ports to refuse it permission to dock.
The ship was eventually allowed to dock in Cuba, from where hundreds of British guests were able to be repatriated.
The Balmoral is the largest of Fred Olsen’s cruise liners.
With 710 rooms, it has capacity for 1,325 guests and 510 crew members, with six restaurants and a swimming pool, gym and spa.
Small by comparison, the Boudicca can host 853 people with 329 crew members, while the Black Watch holds 799 with 330 crew.