Cruise ships have become one of the most common sights on the world’s oceans, as more and more tourists take to the seas for adventure and relaxation.
More than 400 ocean liners are currently criss-crossing the globe, carrying more than 13 million tourists to exotic destinations.
However, one cruise ship that will no longer be plying its trade on the world’s waters is the MS World Discoverer. Stunning new images show the vessel in its final resting place, after it struck an uncharted reef while sailing in the Solomon Islands’ Sandfly Passage.
The abandoned ship lies just metres way from a popular tourist beach and has become a magnet for those searching for something out of the ordinary.
The vessel, which measures 287ft in length, has been there for more than 20 years – in which time she has been reclaimed by nature, with trees sprouting from her decks.
The rusting metal hulk provides a sharp and eerie contrast to the rugged natural beauty of the forested shoreline, where she came to rest on her final voyage.
The ocean liner was originally built in the 1970s at a German shipyard, before being sold to the Danish company BEWA Cruises.
It was designed to carry roughly 140 passengers and featured an observation lounge, a library, a sun deck with a swimming pool and a small fitness centre.
The company originally used the ocean liner to take tourists on voyages to the Antarctic polar regions.
Passengers were able to explore and get close up to the Antarctic’s ice floes on dinghies provided by the ship’s crew.
But disaster struck on April 30, 2000, when the MS World Discoverer hit an unchartered reef as it was making its way past the Solomon Islands.
The ship’s captain sent out a distress signal before evacuating passengers to safety on lifeboats.
Then he brought the heavily listing vessel into Roderick Bay off the coast of Nggela Sule Island and grounded the ship there to prevent her from sinking.
A British passenger on the cruise at the time described the incident as “spectacular”.
David Wright told The Herald newspaper: “It was just rammed into the beach, breaking trees in the forest, which stretches down to the shore.”
The crew of the ship were praised for their “exemplary” conduct in an emergency by Michael Lomax, the president of “Society Expeditions”, the company that organised the cruise.
A salvage team were defeated in their attempts to get the vessel back up running, so the ship was abandoned to nature.
Tourists can get to the wreck site by taking an hour-and-a-half boat transfer from Honiara, the archipelago’s capital, for day trips to the bay.
Once there they can snorkel around the ship, but are not allowed to climb on board it, although locals have rigged up a zipline from the top of the vessel to the shore.
A recent visitor to the ship described it as a “real sight to see”, adding the “lagoon is stunning” in an Instagram post.
The waters around the Solomon Islands are littered with some 200 wrecks, most of which date back to WW2.
Many are the remains of fighter planes shot down during aerial combats and include a Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero long ranger fighter, an America Grumman F6F 3-Hellcat, as well as a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.