Cruise ships tied up at a quayside or at anchor have become a familiar sight to onlookers along the south coast of England as a result of the ‘no-sail order’ following the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. And Marella Cruises’ fleet is certainly no stranger to local residents of Weymouth Bay, with three of the cruise lines’ fleet having been anchored there since early July.

The three ships in question include Marella Explorer, Marella Discovery, and Marella Explorer 2. In its latest update, Marella has cancelled all sailings until mid-November, while some cruise lines have cancelled cruises until spring 2021.

As a result, cruise lines are reported to be haemorrhaging cash as they deal with the costly expense of maintaining their laid-up fleet as they await sailing resumption.

There are two types of lay-ups – hot lay-ups and cold lay-ups – the former of which is more costly and allows cruise lines to restart their cruise ships within roughly two weeks, while the latter is the cheaper option but is typically for ships going into long-term storage, taking several months for such ships to be returned to service.

In a recent interview with Telegraph Travel, managing director of Marella Cruises, Chris Hackney, revealed exactly what’s involved in the hot lay-up of the line’s ships.

“Sustaining our ships in a hostile marine environment with a reduced number of crew requires detailed preparation. We currently have around 90 officers and crew aboard each vessel,” he explained.

“The Deck Department manage safety, security and environmental management of our ships. They are responsible for the maintenance of external areas including lifesaving and fire-fighting equipment.

“Our Hotel Department supports all crew and visitors that are inspecting, protecting and maintaining the accommodation areas of our ships. The Technical Department is responsible for maintaining and servicing all systems ranging from the main engines through to freshwater piping.

“Our cruise ships get underway regularly to carry out refuelling operations and water production. Occasionally our ships proceed alongside for port operations such as storing, crew changes and further maintenance.”

When it comes to a cold lay-up situation, he explained: “Not all ships are suitable for a traditional cold lay-up of shutting down all machinery and having a small team check moorings occasionally.

“Cruise ships are very complex with many systems which require constant maintenance, so our plans range from hot to warm, but not truly cold. We do have options for locating vessels together, sharing crew and power which does make our warm lay-up options as efficient as possible.”

Fleets are currently in hot lay-up around the UK, including Azamara and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines’ entire fleet, the former docked along the River Clyde and the latter in Rosyth. P&O Cruises beloved ship Britannia is currently also moored in Weymouth, while Arcadia has been spotted off the coast of Suffolk.

Visit tui.co.uk/cruise for more information on Marella Cruises.