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#queenmary2 – 'What is the name of the big, blue ship off Dun Laoghaire?' might well be a common Google search next Wednesday, May 20th when the Queen Mary II anchors off Scotsman's Bay at 7am. Interest in cruise liners was at a high this week for the start of the Cruise Ship season into Ireland when Royal Princess Cruise Liner passengers were welcomed at Dun Laoghaire on Tuesday and equally on Monday when the longest ever ship, the MSC Splendida cruise liner docked in Dublin Port.

RMS Queen Mary 2, the world's largest ocean liner made her maiden visit to Dublin Bay a year ago and returns almost a year to the day into Scotsman's Bay next Wednesday.

Another five star welcome is in store for some 3,000 passengers who will be greeted by a piper and Irish dancers, tour guides, free wireless and business offers after docking at the Coal Harbour.

The RMS Queen Mary II is the second of a flotilla of more than 20 floating visitors to Dún Laoghaire this year, bringing over 100,000 cruise passengers. This compares with just 200 passengers arriving in the harbour in 2012. 

RMS Queen Mary II departs Dun Laoghaire just before low tide at 6pm next Wednesday.

Published in Cruise Liners

#inss – Last week, Sailing on Saturday featured the Royal Cork Yacht Club, the oldest in the world, as it comfortably donned the mantle of the ISA/Mitsubishi Motors Sailing Club of the Year 2015. This morning, we find ourselves involved with what may well be the newest sailing club in the world, the Irish National Sailing Club. It is certainly, thanks to being inaugurated nearly three months after Youghal SC was founded on 28th October 2014, the newest in Ireland. W M Nixon tries to explain it all as he finds himself in the world of Irish sailing's most complete dynamo.

Alistair Rumball is a Life Member of the Awkward Squad. Cage-rattling and pot-stirring are second nature to him. But it's not because of experiencing an unhappy childhood. On the contrary, while growing up in Malahide, his boyhood summers were bliss. He and his brother Arthur had as much sailing as they could want, fitted in between part-time jobs raising pocket-money with a morning picking potatoes at Dermot Dickie's farm along the Broadmeadow Estuary, followed by an afternoon of sailing the sea with the sun always shining, and then maybe an evening of club racing followed by the easy camaraderie among kids who are comfortable with boats.

It was an idyllic maritime environment which, over the years, has produced some of Ireland's top racing and cruising sailors. But while the young Rumball was no slouch on the race-course, the strongest feeling he had about sailing was the sheer fun of it all, the totally absorbing wonder of being in a boat and hauling on ropes to make sails change shape and help you along your chosen course over the always interesting sea.

Although he graduated from Trinity College Dublin as an engineer, he increasingly had this almost evangelical attitude to spreading the good news about the fun of sailing. And while he has something of a reputation – to say the least - for being confrontational, it's central to his contradictory character that he's an extremely good teacher. If somebody shows the slightest genuine enthusiasm about wanting to learn to sail, Alistair Rumball has been prepared to go to endless lengths to teach him or her to do so, and to do so with enjoyment.

Underlying that, we find the first of his gripes about the modern sailing scene. He reckons that it has become far too serious. Don't think for a moment, though, that he believes in a frivolous approach to boats and sailing. He's deadly serious about having everything just right as regards safety and function.

But once that's sorted, then he firmly believes that you should go out and enjoy it. He waxes lyrical about moments of sheer sailing ecstasy he has enjoyed in a wide variety of boats in many sailing locations worldwide. And whatever he may have formally set out to be in a professional career, his working life has been spent in and around boats, getting people introduced to boats and out afloat, sometimes on an almost industrial scale.

Time was when sailing skills were something you acquired by a sort of osmosis through family tradition, club opportunities, and friendship examples. That's mostly how Rumball himself learned to handle a sailing boat. But he seems to have this almost messianic zeal to teach people to sail, and he became convinced that the future lay in more structured training with a proper syllabus.

Having taken a long hard look at the population distribution of the Greater Dublin area and where they might best get afloat in worthwhile numbers, in 1978 he acquired the assets of a moribund organisation, the Dun Laoghaire Sailing School, and soon found himself giving his first lessons to two pupils using a fibreglass-clinker Darragh 14 knockabout sailing dinghy which they'd launched from the public slipway in the Coal Harbour in Dun Laoghaire. The long journey had started towards an organisation whose activities today today include top-of-the-line race training in 1720s in winning mode:

The majestic granite harbour of Dun Laoghaire was a cold place in 1978 for any young enthusiasts trying to set up an independent sailing school on a commercial basis. For the powers that be, sailing was something to be learned through family and clubs under the Junior Training Programme of the Irish Yachting Association. If you were a young person or adult from a non-sailing background but keen to learn, unless you'd an obliging and patient friend from within the sailing establishment, the expectation was that you'd take yourself off to somewhere far away like the Glenans Ireland bases in Baltimore and Bere Island and Clew Bay, and eventually reappear after a decent interval with enough experience, newfound ability and contacts to make the grade in the Dublin Bay sailing scene, where the very thought of a raw in-harbour sailing school for outsiders seemed distasteful to the establishment.

Yet hidden away in the southwest corner of Dun Laoghaire harbour, here was this gadfly of the sailing scene, Can–do Alistair with his rough and ready sailing school enthusiastically recruiting pupils anywhere and everywhere, and taking them afloat in boats which may not have been in the most pristine condition, and certainly set sails which would not be winners on the race course, yet they were safe and able, and so were he and his instructors.

Over the years, an entire cohort of people, mainly from Dublin but also from all over Ireland with a useful smattering of pupils from abroad, came to boats and sailing thanks to this wild-haired character whose love of his demanding work shone through everything he did.

Gradually the fleet expanded, and so too did the "Rumball Group's" activities, even though the very limited availability of premises on the Dun Laoghaire waterfront meant that every little square foot they had always seemed to serve at least three different purposes. But they were getting there, they opened a retail outlet in the town to sell boat gear and equipment which became Viking Marine, the school promoted itself to being the Irish National Sailing School, and they were well settled in place, using every inch of space on the ground floor of the interesting little building on the southwest corner of the harbour which used to be the Nautical College.

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The man and his machines – Alistair Rumball and his chariot outside the Irish National Sailing School's HQ in Dun Laoghaire. Photo: W M Nixon

Centuries ago, seafaring education was given a significant role in Irish life in the late 1700s, the 1800s, and the early 1900s with the old Marine School a fine building on the south quays in Dublin. But its premises were re-allocated for development purposes and the school itself had its final home in Clontarf before being absorbed only as a vague memory into what is now Mount Temple Comprehensive school.

These days, the marine education focus has moved to Cork with the fabulous new National Maritime College in Ringaskiddy, but for that low period in Irish maritime life in the mid 20th century, one of the few keepers of the flame was Captain Tom Walsh who operated the little Nautical College in this fairly inconspicuous Office of Public Works building now hidden away behind the Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club.

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Captain Tom Walsh in teaching mode in 1957 in the INSS building when it was the Nautical College.

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The 110ft barquentine which Jack Tyrrell designed for Captain Tom Walsh's Nautical College in 1954 in the hope that it would inspire the building of an Irish Tall Ship

It was the gallant Captain Walsh who in 1954 commissioned Jack Tyrrell of Arklow to design a 110ft sailing ship – a barquentine – to be Ireland's very own tall ship, our first sailing training vessel. God bless the good captain, but he was convinced that if he could just get someone in Government to see these inspiring plans, then such a ship would be on the way.

You can imagine just how far such a visionary idea travelled in the deadly dull Ireland of the 1950s. Far from getting a proper training ship built, Captain Walsh had enough trouble keeping his college in being. Yet he was a gentleman and enthusiast to the end, and after retirement he augmented his pension by testing compasses in yachts, which I remember well as he did it for me with a little cruiser in 1981. The only mutually convenient time it could be done was on a Saturday evening, and I'd to get the boat from Howth to Dun Laoghaire to do it, but the actual swinging of the compass by Tom Walsh was such a pleasant and educational experience that any thoughts of being at some Saturday night party were entirely banished.

So when you go into the main premises of the Irish National Sailing School today, it's natural to remember Captain Tom Walsh, and I like to think that he would thoroughly approve of the old building's current usage, for Alistair Rumball and his team are mighty busy during what must sometimes be an 18-hour day, and just this week – before the sailing season is really fully under way – Monday was typical, with 185 schoolkids bussed down from Maynooth for a day's coaching afloat, followed by all sorts of gatherings including a committee meeting of the newly-formed Irish National Sailing Club.

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Space is so constrained that a floating dinghy park has to be used to store the smaller craft. Photo: W M Nixon

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Thanks to the special INSS fendering devised by Arthur Rumball, this 35-year-old Squib has survived many seasons of tough teaching in good order. Photo: W M Nixon

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To economise on space, the Squibs berthed here, with the INSS building in the background, are double-moored. Photo: W M Nixon

Of which more anon, for this bare outline gives only a hint of the INSS's complex programme. The Rumball theme is that you have to keep operations and facilities flexible to cope with fluctuating demand, for at the height of the season the school is operating a fleet of 200 boats ranging from kayaks through sailing dinghies of increasing size, then on into keelboats of which some well-fendered Squibs are the workhorses while 1720s provide the glamour input, and finally at the top of the tree there's the Reflex 38 Lynx, bought from Galway this past winter, and becoming part of a programme headed by Alistair's son Kenneth – a Silver Youth Medallist in the 420 – who is now a fully-qualified offshore racing pro teacher, but also races the 1720s while being main operations director of a school which has five full–time employees, but in all has sixty staff at the height of the season.

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The latest addition to the INSS fleet is the Reflex 38 Lynx, seen here racing for NUI Galway during the Round Ireland. In 2015, Lynx has already scored a second overall in ISORA racing skippered by Kenneth Rumball.

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Brothers in business – seen here with his brother Alistair, Arthur Rumball (left) runs the often very busy INSS boat maintenance facility. Photo: W M Nixon

As to shoreside facilities, each summer they set up an additional seasonal summer base to the west of the West Pier with top-of the-line Portakabins at Salthill to provide facilities for those sailing dinghies and kayaks, and in addition the INSS have their own boat-maintenance unit under Arthur Rumball beside the boatyard in the Coal Harbour.

So an impressive amount of things have happened since 1978, the best of them surely being that Alistair persuaded Muriel, a country girl from one of the most beautiful parts of County Carlow, to marry him. For Muriel is a teacher by profession, and adept at being the peace-maker who smooths the waters after Alistair has been making waves, which even now still seems to be just about all the time.

That said, he gives the impression of having so many chips on his shoulder about the perceived opposition to his ventures by those in authority that you begin to think it might be just a bit of an act, for underneath it all he has a heart of gold, yet with the spirit of a lion who will fight the good fight to defend his territory and the interests of his family, friends, trainees and businesses.

The quality of the man was well revealed when the economic recession struck. At the height of the boom years, the Irish National Sailing School had a throughput of more than 2,500 people per month coming new to sailing, and it had become a vibrant and trendy part of the recreational fabric of good-time Dublin. Then around 2008, the economy went into free-fall. But the INSS survived both by making severe cutbacks in everything, and utilising another string in Alistair's bow.

Because of his ready enthusiasm to undertake just about everything and anything to do with boats, back in 1982 he'd looked after some waterborne scenes with classic small craft for the Channel 4 TV comedy-drama series The Irish RM, starring Peter Bowles and Bryan Murray, which went out between 1983 and 1985. It was grand at the time, but thirty years down the line it now seems to have a dose and more of the Paddywhackery about it. However, that was neither here nor there for Alistair Rumball in 1982, for it gave him a lucrative little sideline, and over the years since he has been the man to go to if you want to set up boats and sailing ship scenes in the Irish movie-making business.

So it's ironic, when we remember that Malahide was where the rather mouldy old Vikings of Dublin made their last base after their city had been captured by the Normans in 1171, that it should be a Malahide boy who has emerged as the behind-the-scenes captain of ships for the filming of the blockbuster series Vikings.

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When you've spent most of your working life teaching people to sail, tutoring Thespian Viking crewmen on a Wicklow lake is just an ordinary part of another day at the office.

It has all been happening for some years now up in the Wicklow mountains and out on the Wicklow lakes, which have passed themselves off very well as Norwegian fjords, yet can double quite effectively as the coastal and riverside scenery of the many places where the Norwegian Vikings wreaked mayhem.

Who knows, but maybe with the passage of time the epic Vikings series will come to be seen as the epitome of Scandiwhackery, but for now, it certainly does the business . For as the Irish economy fell off a cliff, Alistair Rumball soared aloft in creating, managing, and manoeuvring a very authentic and substantial Viking longship flotilla which has provided a proper Tinseltown income to make all things possible, while helping underwrite the future of the Irish National Sailing School.

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Lough Dan in County Wicklow - where Erskine Childers first sailed around 1890 – has proved remarkably versatile in providing backgrounds for the Vikings which could either be Norway itself, or else the shores of places they are raiding

But it's extraordinarily demanding and time-consuming work, even if he has a staff of 150 specialists up in the Wicklow hills, and after a year or two it became clear that he was trying to do too much. So four years ago his son Kenneth, who is now 27 and was at the time working as an accountant, moved in to take over the direction of the sailing school, and as the recession has started to recede – last year they had monthly numbers pushing back towards the 2,000 mark - Kenneth's energetic and all-encompassing input is seeing the school increasing the scale of its operations, particularly in what might be called the post-graduate side with the development of 1720s at top race level. Now the acquisition of Lynx has developed things further - she has already made what was a rather hasty debut in the first ISORA of the year, but despite being only minutes out of the box, they placed second overall, and that only by six minutes.

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Alistair, Muriel and Kenneth Rumball. Photo: W M Nixon

This placing of racing as a natural part of the INSS syllabus has in turn led to the need for an officially-constituted club to comply with race entry requirements. But in reality the INSS has had a genuine club atmosphere for years, indeed it has more of a truly club-like atmosphere than many a historically-constituted old yacht club. So it was only a formality to bring the Irish National Sailing Club into being in January 201, but it's for real, here's a pic of the Committee of the new club meeting in the old Tom Walsh building on Monday, and if you want to join, it will cost you the outrageous sum of €10.

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The committee and school management of the newly-formed Irish National Sailing Club are (left to right) Glyn Williams (foreground), Muriel Rumball, Joan Sheffield, Caroline Herron, Robin Jones, Alistair Rumball, Kenneth Rumball, Garrett O'Malley, Dermot Igoe, Heather Blay and Mary Beck. Photo: W M Nixon

As to how Alistair Rumball views the impending possible re-structuring of Dun Laoghaire as a cruise liner port, with inevitable limitations on the amount of sailing which can take place within the harbour, he is both an idealist and a realist.

Like many of us, he dearly wishes that this splendid granite creation could be seen as a cherished part of our heritage, not as something to be used to generate income to turn a crude profit or even just to pay its own maintenance costs. Rather, we'd ideally like to see it treated as a national asset to provide vital recreational space for everyone afloat and ashore.

But Alistair Rumball senses that the government's determination to use just about everything in public ownership to generate income will win the day, and he is already being realistic about what the regular if summer-emphasised arrival of cruise liners will mean.

In fact, he may even derive a certain sardonic satisfaction from seeing the Dun Laoghaire sailing establishment having to contemplate accepting conditions with which his school has complied ever since he began operating it.

"People should realise" he asserts, "that there are already two clearly-define shipping channels in Dun Laoghaire Harbour. One is from the harbour entrance to St Michael's Wharf, which will simply be retained if the cruise liners come. The other, much less widely known, is supposed to be from the harbour entrance to the berth at the Band Stand on the East Pier. Even at present, you are not meant to operate under sail in either of those channels, but an awful lot of boats do so."

"However, as we are a commercial operation, we have a strict policy of complying with regulations and carrying out our sail training and teaching operations in the western part of the harbour, clear of the main channel. So a cruise liner should not affect our in-harbour activities, while our larger craft going out into the bay will have to comply with shipping regulations in the entrance like everyone else".

Whatever happens, we may be sure that the Irish National Sailing School and the Irish National Sailing Club - and their splendid founder - will continue to be a thorn in the side of those who take themselves too seriously and have an inflated idea of their own importance. But if you've never been in a boat before and know nobody in sailing, yet feel a growing enthusiasm to go sailing in Dun Laoghaire, you now know where to go to experience the real thing.

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The other side of the INSS show – a Viking ship looking good on Lough Dan

Published in W M Nixon

Tonight's Fireball dinghy racing in Dublin Bay, under the burgee of DBSC was cancelled due to a combination of factors - natural and man-made writes Cormac Bradley

The advent of the cruise liner season saw another mega-sized vessel anchored in the race course area of Scotsman's Bay. The inability of such vessels to enter Dun Laoghaire's harbour means that passengers are ferried ashore and "back to base" by a combbination of smaller boats and the cruise liner's own lifeboats. This heightened traffic meant that racing inside the harbour was not a possibility. Hence the man-made intervention!

Mother Nature "pitched in" with a stiff westerly that generated whitecaps for most of the day on Dublin Bay and while there was evidence of this dropping in strength as boats were being rigged, a decision to "blow" the evening was taken.

This forthcoming weekend sees the first of our summer regattas, The Open Championships, being sailed out of Skerries, further up the East Coast from Dublin Bay. Breeze, as usual for this location, is forecast. Numbers are a little low with 4 days to go. Thus far it looks like it will be a substantially DL fleet contesting the event. So to the readership of this column (of which there seen to be many), if you have a Fireball, we'd love to see you on the water!

Published in Fireball

#dlharbour – The 1083–foot Royal Princess Cruise Liner that anchored in Scotsman's Bay was welcomed at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on schedule this morning, just after 6am. It is the first cruise ship of the season to arrive at Dun Laoghaire and had sailed overnight from Cork Harbour into the Bay. It will remain off Dun Laoghaire Harbour all day, departing at 6pm.

No sooner had the 217–foot high Royal Princess dropped anchor approximately one kilometre east of Dun Laoghaire's East Pier lighhouse than the ship began disembarking some of its 5,000 passengers and crew by tender at 0630 hours.

Just before 7am the first two orange coloured tenders reached the harbour mouth escorted by a RIB flying a yellow flag.

A welcome programme for the Royal Princess will be staged in the seaside town today aimed at increasing visitor interest in Dun Laoghaire,  a Dublin suburb located 13km (8miles) south-east of the City Centre.

2015 is set to be the most successful cruise season for Dun Laoghaire, with an expected 100,000 passengers and crew expected to arrive into the Harbour over the next five months. A total of 21 calls will be made to Dun Laoghaire Harbour, with many of the ships involved bringing in more than 5,000 passengers and crew. The Royal Princess is a brand new next generation vessel and was launched in 2013.

This morning's Dun Laoghaire visit follows yesterday's one day stop-over of the MSC Splendida into Dublin Port, the biggest ship ever to visit the city centre.

Published in Cruise Liners

#dlharbourcruise – Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group has launched its 2015 cruise–liner season. 2015 is set to be the most successful cruise season for Dun Laoghaire, with an expected 100,000 passengers and crew expected to arrive into the Harbour over the next five months. A total of 21 calls will be made to Dun Laoghaire Harbour, with many of the ships involved bringing in more than 5,000 passengers and crew.

The first cruise visit of the season will take place next Tuesday, 12th May with the arrival of the Royal Princess.

The third generation cruise ship will be on its maiden voyage, and will carry over 5,000 crew and passengers. Other ships that will take in Dun Laoghaire on their maiden voyages will be:

· Splendida (21st May)

· Celebrity Silhouette (14th June)

· Star Legend (26th June)

· Britannia (14th July)

· Mein Schiff 4 (18th September)

Ahead of the calls, the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group has put in place a welcome programme which will run for each cruise call. The welcome programme will comprise of:

Entertainment:
A welcome event will take place from 1pm to 3pm on each day of a cruise visit in the Lexicon Gardens. This event will feature traditional Irish dancing and music by local traditional Irish band, Celtic Hearts. This event will also be open to the public.

Ambassadors:
A team of eight local volunteers will greet each cruise arrival. The multi-lingual volunteers will be armed with local knowledge to help the cruise guests with any queries they might have. The ambassadors will also be dotted throughout the town, and will be easily identifiable in bright green jackets. The ambassadors will inform the passengers of local sights activities, and will also highlight the availability of free Wifi in the town.

Transport:
On arrival, cruise passengers will be transported by four 16-seater Mercedes mini-coaches from the harbour to the welcome event in the Lexicon Gardens. Courtesy shuttle buses will provide continuous transport services throughout the day, every day the cruise is in the harbour. The shuttle bus pick-up location will be signposted and easily identifiable for cruise crew and passengers.

Dun Laoghaire Stakeholder Group is comprised Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and the local BID Company.

Speaking ahead of the event, Chairperson of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Eithne Scott Lennon said: "We are delighted to be welcoming cruise visits in such numbers to Dun Laoghaire over the coming months.

"The forthcoming cruise season will give us a small insight into the potential which the cruise business has for Dun Laoghaire and the greater hinterland. The Harbour Company has been working collectively with the Council and local businesses to ensure that visitors get a taste of the local area through our welcome programme. Increased cruise visitors should provide a welcome boost to the local economy.

"This cruise season offers a wonderful opportunity to showcase what is available in the area for visitors, and I hope that the wider community will join in the welcome events and entertainment. While it's important to impress the cruise visitors, I also believe that more local families and people interested in ships will also come out to Dun Laoghaire and enjoy the impressive sight of these ships in our harbour. Apart from the multi-story third generation cruise ships, there will also be a selection of smaller and intriguing ships that will come right into the Harbour.

"Everyone can join in the entertainment that is being organised, and I would advise people to log onto our website or follow us on social media to get the latest updates on visits and activities," added Ms Scott Lennon.

Published in Cruise Liners

#dlharbour – Dún Laoghaire BID (Business Improvement District) company is hailing plans for a next-generation cruise berth as a game-changer for the area's economy.

The Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group (composed of the BID company, Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Co. Council) says the new cruise berth will provide a €27 million boost to the area and hinterlands and will lead to significant jobs growth but local yacht clubs have voiced concerns over the plan.

The Stakeholder Group has the long-term aim of emulating the Copenhagen model of welcoming 800,000 cruise visitors to Dublin per annum, with at least 50% of these coming to Dún Laoghaire. This will create new employment both at construction phase and develop employment and growth in the tourism industry in Dún Laoghaire and surrounding areas.

The expansion and development of the cruise business would offer significant economic benefits to Dún Laoghaire and the surrounding areas. These would include expenditure by disembarked passenger and crew; payments to excursion operators by cruise companies; harbour fees; and purchases by cruise ships of local supplies while in harbour.

The increased cruise passenger numbers will also contribute to significant additional domestic footfall in the town and harbour areas. It is expected that for every cruise passenger, at least one Irish resident will be attracted to the Harbour to look at the ships. This potential 400,000 increase in footfall will also add vibrancy to the area and represents economic opportunities for local businesses.

The BID company, which represents Dún Laoghaire's 800 plus businesses, says the new 390-metre berth will position Dún Laoghaire as leaders in marine and leisure tourism in Ireland and will transform the fortunes of business with the creation of new jobs in the area.

The proposed new berth at Dún Laoghaire Harbour will be one of just two in Ireland that can accommodate cruise ships up to 340m in length. At present Cobh is the only port in Ireland that can accommodate these vessels.

The Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group developed the plans for the establishment of the new cruise berth facility. The Stakeholder Group welcomed the first cruise call to the Harbour in 2012 with 300 passengers and crew arriving that year. This snowballed and in 2013 30,000 cruise passengers arrived in Dún Laoghaire. This figure will treble this year with the arrival of 100,000 cruise passengers and crew to the Harbour.

Over 50% of new ships currently on order are over 300m in length. Cruise ships want to be able to dock and allow passengers to disembark directly on to a quay, rather than being taken ashore by tender.

Chairman of the Dún Laoghaire BID company, Don McManus says the new cruise berth will be a game changer for the economy in Dún Laoghaire and surrounding areas:

"Dún Laoghaire is designated as a marine tourism port under the Government's National Ports Policy, and the development of the new cruise berth will be fundamental to establishing the entire area as a leading marine and leisure destination."

"The expansion and development of the cruise business will offer significant economic benefits to Dún Laoghaire and the surrounding areas. These include expenditure by disembarked passenger and crew; payments to excursion operators by cruise companies; harbour fees; and purchases by cruise ships of local supplies while in harbour.

The planning application for the new facility is set to be submitted to An Bord Pleanala by the end of April.

– DL Harbour Company Press Release

Published in Cruise Liners

#dublinport – Dublin Port took the opportunity to display a computer-generated image of what the East link bridge area of Dublin might look like at high water with a large cruise liner in the proposed berth when it attended the recent cruise–liner show in Miami, Florida.

Looking eastwards down the river Liffey, the artist's impression shows off the port company's plans for cruise liner berthing as previously reported by Afloat.ie last March. Dublin Port Company plan to redevelop the Alexandra Basin to include two berths for cruise ships of up to 340m in length which will accommodate ships that are significantly larger than the current maximum length of 300m.

Similar berthing plans for the massive ships are also underway across the bay in the south Dublin port of Dun Laoghaire.

The global cruise industry's premier annual international conference and exhibition in Miami drew more than 11,000 attendees and nearly 900 exhibiting companies from over 125 countries.

Dublin Port exhibited as part of 'Cruise Ireland', the island's association of Ports, Shore Excursions Operators, Tourism Organisations, City Councils who share the common objective of making the island of Ireland and all it's charms more accessible for the international Cruise Markets.

The computer-generated image is by New York based architecture firm Bermello Ajamil, whose projects include 'The World in Dubai', one of the most innovative land reclamation and development projects ever attempted.

Cruise Ireland was formed in 1998 after a few tentative years of individual Ports and regions successfully attracting cruise ships. Today the Ports of Ireland play host to some 300 cruise visits each year which is testament to the efforts made by the members of Cruise Ireland.

Each year the members bring improved facilities, unique tours and excellent service to the Cruise industry and the cruise guests who choose to visit.

Published in Cruise Liners

#dlhc – Royal St. George Yacht Club Commodore Justin McKenna has resigned as a board member of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) with immediate effect. 

McKenna told members of his decision at a meeting of the country's biggest sailing club last Friday. The meeting was held to discuss controversial DLHC proposals on the new cruise liner berthing arrangements inside the harbour that has drawn the ire of many Dun Laoghaire sailors.

The Minister of Sport appointed McKenna to the Harbour Company Board  in March 2014, as Afloat.ie reported at the time. 

As the Irish Times reported last Friday there is growing dissatisfaction among 5,000 sailing and boating fans over proposals that, say objectors, will curtail sailing inside the harbour walls.

Royal St. George members have been urged to let their views be known on the 435–metre long quay to be built next to their clubhouse. The club also wants individual sailing classes to make submissions.

It follows an online petition set up by sailors that has attracted 1500 signatures to save 'Dun Laoghaire dinghy sailing' 

Friday's meeting was followed by an open session for Royal St. George members. An 'abbreviated version' of the points raised has appeared on club facebook page as follows:

• The councillors should be advised that the city of Venice is considering banning all big cruise liners because they are causing untold damage to the fabric of the city. The income from these liners is valued at 10c per passenger

• Cruise ships are good for Dun Laoghaire, anchored in the bay and we welcome SMALL ships in the harbour.

• Each sailing class should make a submission and encourage submissions

• The economic benefit to Dun Laoghaire is not good from the passenger perspective. There will be initial public interest. However, this will fall off over time as people become bored with them

• The only beneficiaries will be the coach tour operators

• Some basic calculations would indicate that it will take + 100 yrs. to recover the construction cost

• The Dublin Port proposal is in direct competition yet it is only a few miles away.

• The consultation period closes next Monday and it is important that the club advises members to object to the planning board a.s.a.p.

• Dun Laoghaire is the major centre for youth training on the island of Ireland. This proposal will have a detrimental if not fatal effect on this activity

• The scale of the ships is difficult to comprehend and is out of character with a Victorian harbour.

• International Sailing events will not come to Dun Laoghaire. Tourism Ireland will not be happy.

• The Water wag class commenced sailing in the harbour in 1887 and is one of the oldest racing classes in the world.

• Irish Lights have conducted many studies of the harbour bed and a considerable area is covered in granite. Dredging cost numbers will be almost double the cost estimated and Dublin Port will be gaining from the anchoring dues.

DLHC says the plan is to facilitate some of the world's biggest cruise liners berthing inside the harbour. The aim is to regenerate the harbour and town following the loss of the HSS Stena car ferry between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead in February.

A total of 22 cruise ships are expected to berth this summer, bringing up to 100,000 passengers and crew to the port bringing up to €7m in revenues, 30% of whicdh will be spent locally in Dun Laoghaire, according to DLHC.

A public consultation is underway following DLHC presentations with over 20 separate stakeholders groups.

Observations or comments can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by post to Jean Finnegan, Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Harbour Lodge, Crofton Rd, Dun Laoghaire, anytime up to 5pm on Monday, 13th April 2015.

A copy of the DLHC presentation is HERE.

Published in RStGYC

#dlharbour – Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company has unveiled a proposed €18m plan to facilitate some of the world's biggest cruise liners inside the harbour walls. A Public consultation will open on the plans for the new cruise berth facility next Monday.

The ambitious new plan is to regenerate the harbour following the loss of the HSS Stena car ferry between Dun laoghaire and Holyhead in February. There is currently no commerical traffic coming in or out of the harbour but a total of 22 cruise ships are expected at the harbour this Summer, bringing up to 100,000 passengers and crew to the east coast port.

The development of the new cruise berth facility is essential to allow to build on the success to date to bring even more vessels and passengers, according to the harbour company, a state owned commerical entity. 

The plan will involve the construction of a new quay wall and dredging of the harbour to facilitate ships up to 300 metres in length, (twice the length of the former HSS ferry) which cannot be currently accomodated anywhere else in Ireland other than Cobh in Cork Harbour on the South coast.

The plan is being unveiled this week to harbour and town interest groups including yachts and boat clubs and sailing schools over the course of 20 presentation meetings, according to Afloat.ie sources.

A new 435–metre quay wall be built in the middle of the harbour in front of the east marina breakwater to facilitate cruise ships. 

If the plan goes ahead the expected construction period is expected to take 15-18 months. Dredging is expected to be to a depth of 10.5 metres to accoomodate the massive ships.

Members of the public and harbour stakeholders are being invited by the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group to submit their views on plans for the development.

The two week public consultation process will open next Monday (30.03.2015) and is being launched in advance of an expected planning application to An Board Pleanala for the project. The planning application will be made by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company on behalf of the Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group.

The cruise industry is an important and growing sector of the tourism market. Cruise ships are getting bigger in size, offering more facilities to passengers, but requiring deeper water and longer berths of accommodate them. Over 50% of new ships currently on order are over 300m in length. At present Cobh is the only port in Ireland that can accommodate these vessels. If facilities are not put in place, Ireland risks losing out on the expanding cruise tourism market.

Under the Planning and Development Acts, the cruise berth facility is regarded as strategic infrastructure and the planning application must therefore be made to An Bord Pleanala. It is expected that a finalised planning application and Environmental Impact Statement will go to An Bord Pleanala the end of April / early May 2015. Responses from the public and stakeholders during the consultation process will be taken into account when finalising the application to An Bord Pleanala. When the final application goes to An Bord Pleanala, observations and submissions may be made by members of the public and certain statutory bodies.

Speaking in relation to the launch of the consultation process, Gerry Dunne, CEO of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company said: "The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Masterplan, published in 2011, identified the need to develop strategies to ensure the long term future of the harbour, in view of the declining importance of ferry traffic. Development of cruise business was identified as one of the opportunities to be pursued. In addition, Dun Laoghaire is designated as a marine tourism port under the Government's National Ports Policy and the development of the cruise business fits into this framework.

"Dun Laoghaire will have its most successful cruise season ever in 2015, with a total of 22 ships expected, bringing up to 100,000 passengers and crew to the harbour. However the development of the cruise berth facility is essential to allow to build on the success to date and to bring even more vessels and passengers to our town.

"The expansion and development of the cruise business offers significant economic benefits to Dun Laoghaire and the surrounding areas. These would include expenditure by disembarked passenger and crew; payments to tour operators by cruise companies and purchases by cruise ships from local supplies while in harbour.

"This is a hugely exciting project for Dun Laoghaire and the members of the Cruise Stakeholder Group are anxious to hear the views of the public before finalising our application to An Bord Pleanala. Full details of the proposals will be available on the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Website from Monday next at www.dlharbour.ie.

Published in Cruise Liners

#CruiseLiners- Azores became the first cruiseship in 2015 to Dublin Port yesterday out of around 85 calls this season, while a further 22 such ships calling for Dun Laoghaire Harbour, are mostly to anchor offshore, writes Jehan Ashmore.

This year's first seasonal arrival to Dublin Port saw Azores call from the UK while on charter to Cruise & Maritime Voyages. The 550 passenger ship is on a cruise bound for Iceland having departed Avonmouth, (the cruise port for Bristol) from where she had completed a Norwegian fjords cruise.

Both Dublin Bay ports are expecting to follow the success of previous years. Dublin Port in 2014 alone handled over 135,000 passengers and crew visiting the capital city which generated a major economic boost of €50 million. This season the port is to welcome some very large callers, among them Caribbean Princess, Queen Victoria and Norwegian Star.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour is set to achieve significant growth as also previously reported on Afloat.ie, compared to the last four seasons, which started off, with just one-cruiseship, the 48-passenger Quest, but in 2015 there will be a major bumper season totalling 22 callers.

The inaugural caller to Dun Laoghaire will also be the biggest (in passenger capacity) when Splendida calls on May 15th and again on the 21st of that same month. The massive 137,000 tonnes ship operated by MSC Cruises has 3,900 passengers and 1,346 crew is also scheduled to make a third call at the end of August.

The south Dublin Bay port will also welcome notable large-sized anchorage callers, among them the return of Queen Mary 2, albeit a once-off call on 20th May.

Before the Cunard Line 'flagship''s visit, Princess Cruises impressive Royal Princess (see Belfast visit) will make a debut call to Dun Laoghaire. A sister, albeit P&O Cruises 143,000 tonnes Brittania, the largest ever cruisehip built exclusively for the UK market, is to make her first arrival off Dun Laoghaire in July.

The 3,647 passenger capacity and 1,350 crew of Britannia made her maiden call to her homeport of Southampton earlier this month. As mentioned above, the newbuild in July is to make an inaugural UK & Ireland cruise which includes the call to Dun Laoghaire. 

If every cruiseship is assumed to have full capacity and all passengers go ashore then Dun Laoghaire can expect some 63,237 tourists over the course of the 2015 season. In addition to all ship's crew numbers this figure would be boosted by over 25,000 bringing potentially 88,282 in total visitors.

The rising boom in the cruise industry and the issue of accomodating increasingly large cruiseships has led to Dublin Port to propose plans to build a dedicated cruise terminal closer the city-centre. At Dun Laoghaire Harbour, there are plans to build a facility, given the demise of Stena HSS operations on the route to Holyhead that closed last year. 

 

 

Published in Cruise Liners
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