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Cobh played host to yet another historic maritime spectacle when two giant cruiseships met off the town's deepwater quay at the same time this afternoon, writes Jehan Ashmore.

In an unprecedented scheduling of cruiseships to the Port of Cork (Cobh), the inbound Independence of the Seas (154,407 tonnes) the largest cruiseship to call to any Irish port, passed the 122,000 tonnes Celebrity Eclipse which was preparing to depart from the town's cruise terminal.

Some 15 minutes later Celebrity Eclipse pulled away from the berth. During that timeframe the Independence of the Seas had completely turned around in the opposite direction to face Cobh after maneuvering in the swinging basin between Cobh and the Naval Base on Haulbowline Island.

The 4,175-passenger Independence of the Seas is the third of the 'Freedom' class vessels. She has a length of 339m and is a mere 11m shorter in distance to that of the 350m berth at Cobh. The 38m wide cruiseship has a draft of 8.7m and the depth of water at the town's quayside is 9.1m.

The 15-deck vessel was built by Aker Finnyards in Turku, Finland in 2008 for Royal Caribbean International (RCI). Amenities on the Freedom class consist of the an innovative surf park, canitilevered whirlpools, ice-skating rink, full-size boxing ring and a H2O Zone waterpark.

As for the 3,179-passenger Celebrity Eclipse, she is the second of five 'Solstice' class sisters and measures 317m (length) 48m (beam) and draws 8.6m. On the top deck there is the fresh green grass located at Lawn Club. She was built by the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg, Germany and entered service last year for her owners Celebrity Cruises.

Independence of the Seas departed yesterday afternoon on an overnight passage from Southampton where the vessel is based in the summer and for the winter she is based out of Florida. The Celebrity Eclipse departed the UK south coast port from Cobh where the larger cruiseship is also to make overnight port of call.

In total 10,000 passengers and crew will of visited the Cork Harbour region alone over the May Bank holiday. To meet the surge in demand for the shore-based excusions a fleet of buses awaited and additional trains were also laid-on by Irish Rail. The railway station is located next-door to the Cobh Heritage Centre which retraces the town's strong trans-Atlantic liner era.

Published in Cruise Liners
The flagship of the Irish Ferries fleet Ulysses celebrates her 10th anniversary on the Dublin-Holyhead port route, writes Jehan Ashmore.
At 50,938 gross tonnes, the cruiseferry which has space for 1,875 passengers and 1,342 vehicles, remains the largest ferry operating on the Irish Sea. Over the decade she has made approximately 14,000 crossings which equates to 826,000 nautical miles on the route linking the Irish capital and Anglesey, north Wales.

In January 2000 the keel of the worlds largest car ferry was laid at the Aker Finnyards in Rauma, Finland. The following year the €100m cruiseferry giant departed the shipyard on a four-day delivery voyage to Dublin Port. Upon Ulysses's arrival on 4th March she was presented with a traditional welcoming escort of saluting water-firing tugs.

The Ulysses was named at a ceremony in the port on 21st March by the 'golden godmother' Mairead Berry, Ireland's 25-year old Paralympic Games gold medallist. Four days later Ulysses made her commercial maiden voyage to Holyhead on 25th March.

Wih 12 decks the vessel has an extensive range of facilities and they are named with themes derived from James Joyce's famous novel 'Ulysses'. There is seating available for up to 1,938 passengers and there are 117 twin or single-cabins, accommodating up to 228 passengers.

Only two months into service the Ulysses won the prestigious 'Most Significant New Build - Ferry' category award in the Cruise & Ferry magazine 2001 Awards competition. Her Finnish builders are not only builders of large cruise-ferries for Baltic Sea operators and beyond but also are also renowned for the construction of very large cruiseships for international clients.

Ulysses was designed specifically to serve the central corridor route with a schedule of two round trips daily. She directly replaced the 1997 Dutch built 34,031 grt ro-pax Isle of Inishmore, which transferred to Rosslare-Pembroke Dock service.

In 2006 the Ulysses alongside her fleetmates were transferred from the Irish flag to the Cypriot flag in addition to a change of Irish crew with those outsourced from citizens mostly from the Baltic and Eastern European countries.

Due to the sheer size of the Ulysses, which has a length of 209m, a beam of nearly 32m and a 6.4m draught, she has not missed a single crossing due to bad weather conditions. The vessel has a 22 knot / 41kph service -speed on the 60-mile route which translates to a distance of over 182,000 kms a year.

To celebrate Ulysses 10th year in service, Irish Ferries has enhanced the Club Class option to passengers which includes free-Wifi, which enables a constant connection and an array of other benefits during the 3-hour 15 minute crossing.

For a virtual tour of the Ulysses with views taken from the top deck as the cruiseferry departs Holyhead and the mountains of Snowdonia setting as a backdrop plus interior tours of the vessel click here.

Published in Ferry

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