The cruise ship industry is a huge and growing business …. The “ship hotel” as it has been dubbed. There is huge competition amongst the companies which own the ships and amongst the ports which want them to call. More, bigger cruise ships than ever have been and are being built, with ever-bigger passenger capacity. The Cruise Line International Association Europe said last year that the contribution of Cruise Ship Tourism to the economies of Europe was worth €40 billion and accounted for nearly 350,000 European jobs and that Europe was the second biggest market worldwide, after the United States.
Ireland has been attracting plenty of cruise ship business. Last year 193 vessels called to Irish ports - Dublin and Cork being the main locations, followed by Waterford, with Dun Laoghaire, Killybegs, Foynes and Bantry Bay also calling-locations. That number of ships was an increase of 16 and the number of passengers was close to 250,000 – an increase of almost 40,000 - on the previous year. As dictated by Government policy, the ports are in competition with each other and the cruise ship business is one of their primary targets, though port administrations say that local businesses and the economy generally benefits more than they do from calls by cruise ships.
With more ships being built, many with bigger-than-ever passenger capacity, is the best approach for Ireland that its ports should be competing with each other for the business?
That’s the question I have been discussing on THIS ISLAND NATION Podcast this week, with a man in a position to see both sides, Capt. Michael McCarthy is Cork Port’s Commercial Manager and also Chairman of Cruise Europe. I talked to him in Cobh, as the town celebrated its latest international award for the handling of cruise ships.
• Listen to the Podcast below: