It is my belief that there is a ‘Family of the Sea,’ a community of interest uniting maritime people, from those engaged in the sector professionally, to those who take part in marine leisure activities. Bonding these disparate interests together through a focus on the sea and the Irish coastline, the rivers, the lakes, the thread linking to the oceans of the world and what happens on and in them is what I try to do in each fortnightly edition of my THIS ISLAND NATION radio programme. Listen to the podcast below.
When I am preparing the programme, recording interviews, arranging reports, I try to keep this focus which, I hope, results in an interesting half-hour voyage around the maritime sphere of Ireland. It is also why the programme is broadcast here on the AFLOAT website and through community stations which are the voices of local communities and their interests in the maritime sphere. This continues to develop, expanding this ‘community of interest’ which is what I hope to see evolve and is underlined in this new edition of the programme when the head of a company which has been providing travel at sea for over 150 years suggests that an Irish port should be designated as a base for cruise ships. George Barter leads J. Barter Travel and says that the popularity of cruise ship holidays makes this a reasonable possibility.
There would be a lot of competition for that role – including from Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, Waterford, Cork and Galway. Interestingly, Dublin Port has set up its own cruise development and marketing agency, called ‘Cruise Dublin,’ which it says is intended “to grow Dublin as Ireland’s premier cruise port.”
George Barter made the suggestion during a discussion about the popularity of cruise ship holidays, following sea trials of the biggest cruise vessel ever built - the Harmony of the Seas for Royal Caribbean Lines. The trials were conducted off the French coast, where the vessel was built at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire. It cost €800,000 and is so big that it is 167 feet taller than the Eiffel Tower. It has a capacity for 6,000 passengers, 16 decks and needs 2,000 crew. That is 8,000 people aboard one vessel. It is so big that, on its first voyage from Southampton due to take place in May, passengers will be given GPS-style wrist ‘trackers’ to locate their cabins! I talked to George Barter on the programme about why cruise ships are so popular?
There is always something unusual about the sea. For example, the mysterious, green-eyed fish pulled out of Nova Scotia waters and described as a “terrifying 'alien fish' with wings and glowing eyes." The photograph here is by fisherman Scott Tanner who described it as “downright bizarre” - Three feet long, with a long, narrow tail, two prominent fins, a long pointy mouth, nose and teeth and glowing green eyes. You can hear more about it on the programme and that is it not an alien, but has been identified as a rarely seen ‘Knifenose Chimaera,’ a species which swim along the ocean floor, using that long nose to detect the heartbeats of its prey and those long, pointy teeth to dig into the ocean floor to catch them. They are so rare that very little is known about them.
There is also a very special piece of music about the RNLI on the programme. Listen and hear how you can support the lifeboat service through this special composition which remembers Lifeboat Heroes.
if you would like to contact the programme, the Email address is: [email protected]