While the cruise industry is sitting at a standstill because of COVID-19, scrapyards that turnover passenger ships have turned the pandemic into a significant business opportunity.

In Turkey, as many as five cruise ships have headed to the scrapyard to be dismantled and sold for metal scrap during the pandemic, Kamil Onal, chairman of a ship recycling industrialists’ association, told Reuters.

These cruise ships, which once graced the seas, are being demolished in an attempt to recover some of what was lost as the cruise industry sits idle during the coronavirus crisis.

Even now, with a no-sail order in place from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the cruise industry has yet to return its regular sailing schedule. Carnival has canceled some sailings through 2021 and Norwegian Cruise Line has suspended some of its sailing operations through March 2021.

READ: Cruising During COVID-19: What To Expect On Your Next Cruise

But at the scrapyards in western Turkey, business is booming as several vessels have come to the town of Aliaga to mark their final resting place as metal walls, windows, floors, and railings are dismantled and sold for scrap, Reuters reported. Hotel operators are also flocking to the site to purchase salvageable "useful materials."

Another three ships are slated to arrive at the scrapyard in the near-future where they will be dismantled and also sold for scrap. The cruise ships that have already arrived in Turkey came from Britain, Italy, and the U.S.

“...After the pandemic, cruise ships changed course towards Aliaga in a very significant way,” Onal said. “There was growth in the sector due to the crisis. When the ships couldn’t find work, they turned to dismantling.”

It typically takes as many as 2,500 people six months to dismantle a full cruise ship, Onal told the news outlet. The scrapyard intends to increase its dismantled steel volume to 1.1 million tonnes by the end of 2020 from 700,000 tonnes in January.

cruise ship A cruise ship is pictured. Photo: AFP/Miguel MEDINA