It took multiple trips and weeks of planning for German photographer Jonathan Danko Kielkowski to be able to sneak his way into the carcass of the Costa Concordia. The vessel sits, still partially underwater, moored to a sea wall after being towed there, where it’s waiting to be disassembled. By swimming out to the ship, Kielkowski was able to take the first images of the interior rooms since it sank in 2012. While the coastguard had let press photographers on the boat, they were only allowed to shoot the exterior, and other sanctioned areas.

Being alone on the ship was otherworldly and eerie. “It’s hard to describe, first hours went by like a movie. I was in automatic mode,” Kielkowski says about the experience. “I was really focused on getting through, it took two or three hours of being in there to let it hit. You could feel the panic. From the inside it’s cramped, you could see people luggage and personal effects still there.”

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