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Displaying items by tag: Cruiseships

Cunard Line's flagship Queen Mary 2 docked at Cobh today, the 148,528 tonnes giant liner follows Queen Elizabeth which made her maiden call to Cork Harbour last Saturday, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Queen Mary 2 cost €549m and she is the only true 'liner' operating in the world today as she on occasions provides scheduled trans-Atlantic sailings between Southampton and New York. Some of these sailings include calling to Hamburg. In addition to this role she offers worldwide cruising. Her predecessor Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2) was sold several years to Dubai interests.

The current liner (QM2) can carry 2,620 passengers and a crew of over 1,200 on a vessel is the longest, tallest and widest of any passenger liner built. The luxury liner has private balconies for nearly 80 per cent of cabins and has an art collection worth £3.5m. To complement these works of art there is the first 'floating planetarium', the largest library at sea, boasting 8,000 hardbacks and also the largest ballroom to grace a ship on the oceans.

Queen Mary 2 was short-listed to be built in Belfast at the Harland & Wolff shipyard, but the contract went to Chantiers d'Atlantique, St. Nazaire on the west coast of France.

Her first visit to Irish waters occurred when she anchored off Dunmore East in 2005, the liner had arrived overnight on a passage from her homeport of Southampton and was on a nine-day cruise of British, Irish and Baltic state ports.

Today's Cobh visit of the 345m long Queen Mary 2 coincided with Ocean Countess, a former 'Cunarder', which is also in the port. The 163m vessel was built in 1976 and launched as their Cunard Countess. She weighs 17,593grt and has a 800 passenger capacity. Last year she joined Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) fleet under charter from Majestic International Cruises Group.

Also at work in Cork Harbour was the excursion vessel Spirit of the Isles which apart from operating River Lee sight-seeing cruises between Cork city-centre and Cobh at the weekends, is running a charter cruise this afternoon to Spike Island. For information about sightseeing trips and chartering click HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners
As we draw closer to the end of this month that does not mean the holiday season is over especially where cruiseships are concerned, as no fewer than three such vessels are due to Dublin Port tomorrow, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Two of the trio P&O Cruises 2,300-passenger Arcadia and Holland America Line's 2,100 passenger Eurodam are scheduled to arrive in Dublin Bay from 07.00hrs. They both weigh over 86,000 gross registered tonnes and share the same length of over 250 metres.

Arcadia caters for the UK market and she is on a 13-night cruise which so far has included calls to North Shields, Tyneside, Invergordon, Shetland Isles, Glasgow, Belfast and Liverpool. After her call to the capital she heads for Cork and finally to St Peter Port, Guernsey.

Readers may note that the vessel is of the same design as of Cunard Line's Queen Victoria, which also called to Dublin in May and Cork. In fact Arcadia was to be given the regal name but the 2005 Italian built vessel was transferred from Cunard Line to P&O Cruises, which are under control of US-owned cruise giant Carnival Corporation.

Notable external features of the Arcadia are glass-fronted lifts, two pools, one with a skydome and an interior that is brimming with an art collection consisting of over 3,000 works. She has many facilities such as a three-tier palladium theatre, an intimate 30-seater cinema and gymnasium with an ocean view to inspire those exercising at sea. She was constructed in just twenty months by the Fincantieri shipyard, just outside Venice.

Likewise Eurodam has an extensive art collection theme that is based on the Dutch master's 'Golden Age' including "The Nightwatch, Two Minutes Later", a contemporary re-interpretation of Rembrandt's famous painting. In addition there are 17th-century watercolour maps by famed cartographer Johannes Vingboons.

Passengers on the 11-decked Signature-class can also enjoy the Pan-Asian restaurant and lounge surrounded by panoramic views, an explorer's lounge bar, an Italian restaurant adjacent to the lido, jewellery boutique, atrium bar, show lounge and a photographic and imaging-centre.

Last but not least to dock around lunchtime will be the 30,000 tonnes Ocean Princess, operated by Princess Cruises, another subsidiary of the Carnival Corporation. The 680-passenger / 181 m long vessel may be the smallest of tomorrow's callers and within the Princess Cruises fleet, but the former Tahitian Princess, which underwent an extensive dry-docking in Singapore last winter is well equipped with facilities.

She has a cabaret lounge, club restaurant and bar, casino bar, main pool and spa, steakhouse restaurant, panorama buffet, an Italian restaurant and the Tahitian Lounge. To see the work conducted at the dry-dock, you can view a slideshow by clicking HERE and to see the work in a completed state which also applied to her sister Pacific Princess, watch this VIDEO.

Published in Cruise Liners
It's been some time since more than one cruiseship has moored on the River Liffey's Sir John Rogersons Quay, Dublin Port, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Arriving from Douglas before sunrise was Zegraham Expeditions Clipper Odyssey (1989/5,218grt) which docked at berth No. 8, while Ponant Cruises Le Diamant (1974/8,282grt) made a leisurely mid-morning call at neighbouring berth No. 9.

Clipper Odyssey is an unusual caller to the capital as she normally operates cruises in the Pacific Ocean from New Zealand to the Russian Far-East. As for Le Diamant she is a frequent caller not just to Dublin but throughout Irish ports during the season.

The Bahama-flagged 110-passenger Clipper Odyssey is scheduled to depart this evening around 21.45hrs. She is bound for Dunmore East with an lunchtime arrival off the Waterford fishing port. Le Diamant with a capacity for up to 226 passengers follows with a departure set for 23.00hrs and she is bound for Fishguard Harbour, the gateway to the scenic Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.

Berths 8 and 9 on the quayside are lined with sleek-glazed offices and apartment blocks where once stood the gasometer of the Dublin (Ringsend) Gasworks. In recent years with the building of the Sean O'Casey pedestrian and Samuel Beckett swing-bridges, cruiseships can no longer access berths further upriver, much closer to the city-centre, at berths 3 and 4.

Currently only small cruiseships can dock within the 'Docklands' quarter quays due to the limitations imposed on dimensions, as vessels transit through the East-Link toll lift-bridge which was built in 1984. The majority of cruiseships, which are considerably larger and can exceed over 100,000 gross tonnes, berth 2kms downriver mostly in Alexandra Basin and adjoining Ocean Pier.

There are proposals to build a dedicated cruise-terminal close to the East-Link bridge on the far side at North Wall Quay Extension, which would allow such larger vessels to dock. This would facilitate easier access for cruise tourists to visit the attractions of the city-centre and indeed the nearby amenities of the O2 Arena, which would be within walking distance of the proposed cruise terminal.  

 

Published in Cruise Liners
Cruiseship passengers on board the Spirit of Adventure which anchored in Galway Bay today will have an opportunity of visiting the famous race course venue at Ballybrit, writes Jehan Ashmore.
At just under 10,000 tonnes Spirit of Adventure built in 1980 with a capacity for 352 passengers is the largest cruise-caller this season to make a call to the mid-west port. She had sailed overnight from Foynes and is due to depart later today bound for Kirkwall, Orkney Islands.

The vessel first visited Galway in 2009 but this call will be her last year operating under the Spirit of Adventure cruise banner. The company are to replace the vessel  next season with the Saga Pearl II which will be transferred from the parent company Saga Cruises and renamed Quest for Adventure.

Prior to the Spirit of Adventurer's call, the 226 passenger Le Diamant arrived from St. Malo last Friday. She became the first vessel to make a call to the 'City of the Tribes' on behalf of her French operators, Cie de Ponant. Her passengers were taken on tours of the city, Connemara and the Aillwee Caves in neighbouring Co. Clare. The vessel is due to return early next month.

With three cruise-calls this year the port is set to increase this figure to 7 in 2012 arising from the ports campaign over the last two years. Paul Carey, Chairman of the Harbour Company, said "We are beginning to see the fruits of this campaign and look forward to growing Galway's association with the return of the majestic passenger liners to Galway".

"The passenger liner The World has been confirmed for a two-day visit in August 2013 which is a great endorsement of Galway as a cruise destination".

The call by the world's first ocean-going luxury resort vessel will also be another first for Galway. Operators of the 43,524gt vessel, Residences at Sea have made previous Irish ports of call to include Dublin, for more on her to the capital last August click HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners
Cruiseships of varying size, vintage and design were all represented in Dublin Port today, as they surrounded the berths at Ocean Pier, writes Jehan Ashmore.
First to make an appearance in the early hours was Princess Cruises Dawn Princess (built 1997/ 77,441 gross registered tonnes). Some two hours later the 77m long coastal tanker Keewhit (2003/2332 dwt) arrived from Liverpool to berth alongside the 260m long cruiseship, this was to provide a ship-to-ship refuelling operation or in nautical-speak 'bunkers'.
The practise is not that unusual as the Keewhit has conducted this procedure before in the port. For example in May she was alongside Grand Princess (see PHOTO).Today's transfer of fuel was completed by lunchtime which saw the Hull-registered tanker return to the Mersey.

Some six hours previously Swan Hellenic's sleek Minerva (1996/12,500grt) picked up a pilot off Dalkey after sailing overnight from Portsmouth. She was followed astern by Saga Cruises Saga Ruby (1973/24,292grt) from Dover and likewise she too picked up a pilot close to the South Burford bouy. Incidentally Minerva had operated for Saga Cruises as their Saga Pearl but in recent years she has returned to her original name.

The classic lines of Saga Ruby are attributed to her combined ocean liner/cruiseship design when launched Vistafjord in 1973. The vessel was built by Swan Hunter Shipbuilders for Norwegian America Line. A decade later she was sold to Cunard Line who retained her original name until 1999 when she became the third Caronia. To read more about this former 'Cunarder' click HERE and how her interior looks now click HERE.

Dawn Princess departed Dublin this mid-afternoon bound for Cobh. Minerva is to due to leave around midnight while Saga Ruby remains overnight, in fact her call is particularly leisurely as she does set sail from the capital until tea-time tomorrow.

Published in Cruise Liners
Visitors to Ireland's newest coastal tourist attraction at Loop Head Lighthouse will not only have stunning sea views but also as a place to observe seasonal cruise ships calling to Foynes, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Within the next seven days, three cruise callers are due to enter the mouth of the Shannon Estuary. The first to arrive is the French-flagged Le Diamant which docks tomorrow in the Co. Limerick port. The 8,200 tonnes vessel operated by Ponant Cruises is tonight sailing from St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly.

Her arrival will be followed by P&O Cruises latest addition Adonia on Saturday. With 710 berths the 30,000 tonnes vessel is the smallest of the seven-strong fleet which can accommodate between 1,800 and up to 3,100 passengers as in the case of the Azura. The 115,000 tonnes vessel departed Dublin Port this evening. Her first call to the port was last year (click HERE) and she is the largest cruise ship to call to the capital.

On Tuesday of next week the 9,000 tonnes Spirit of Adventure (cruises) marks the third cruise caller to Foynes. The port is along with five other terminals located throughout the country's largest estuary are operated by the Shannon Foynes Port Company (SFPC).

Incidentally Spirit of Adventure and Azura where two of another trio of cruise ships that visited the Port of Cork on Monday, with Holland America Line's 59,000 tonnes Rotterdam forming the third vessel. This was the first occasion that Cork has handled this number of cruise ships on a single day, bringing 7,000 passengers which set a new record for the port.

Published in Cruise Liners
The Port of Cork will be a busy place this Tuesday as three cruiseships are scheduled to dock in the morning and depart this evening, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Largest of the trio is P&O Cruises 115,000 tonnes cruise giant Azura, which is also to call to Dublin Port following her Cork visit. Launched last year the near 300 metres long vessel can handle 3,100 passengers alone and 1200 crew. For a virtual tour click VIDEO.

Next in terms of tonnage is Holland America Line's near 60,000 tonnes Rotterdam, for more about the 1997 built click this LINK. The final member of the trio belongs to Saga Cruises subsidiary Spirit of Adventure cruises, the 10,000 tonnes Spirit of Adventure. For a visual virtual tour of the vessels interior facilities click HERE.

Spirit of Adventure was scheduled in late April on a 14-day 'Relics of Rome' cruise which was to include ports of call to Libya, Tunisia and Egypt but this was cancelled due to the political situation throughout North Africa.

The combined cruise calls to Cork Harbour has a potential capacity of 5,200 passengers and the mid-July arrival confirms the ports popularity which is to welcome this year a total of 54 cruiseships and over 100,000 passengers. Azura and Spirit of Adventure are to share the berth at Ringaskiddy while the Rotterdam is to berth at the dedicated cruise terminal in Cobh.

Published in Cruise Liners
Trade through Belfast Harbour has grown for the first time in three years, up 5.4% to 16.4m tonnes, according to the port's 2010 annual report, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The boost in trade figures at the Port of Belfast reflects rising tonnages which have assisted in an improved turnover, up 5% to £34.7m and profits before taxation stood at £17.4m.

The principle driver in the ports performance came from the agri-food sector with a record 2m tonnes of grain and animal feed imports. The sector also recorded fertiliser imports alone leap by 32%, reflecting the major investment by the harbour in recent years in the dry-bulk cargo trade.

Roll-on roll-off (Ro-Ro) accounted for a 2% rise to 313,000 vehicles carried, partly due to the introduction of newer larger tonnage on the Belfast-Heysham route.

Belfast Harbour Chairman, Len O'Hagan, said: "Although trading conditions in the UK and Ireland remain weak, the increase in tonnages handled by Belfast Harbour suggests that business confidence is starting to return, albeit slowly.

"Belfast Harbour continues to operate in a highly competitive port sector, but I am pleased to note that the £160m which the Harbour invested in new facilities during the past decade has enabled it to emerge from the downturn with new customers and a presence in new sectors such as renewable energy.

Capital investment in the port worth almost £6m were undertaken during 2010, including the purchase of a new mobile crane, a 10,000 sq ft expansion in logistics space and preliminary works to support the proposed development of an offshore wind turbine terminal for DONG Energy (click HERE). The combined capital expenditure in these projects is in excess of £60m.

Within the ports real estate, projects at the Titanic Quarter progress at the Public Record Office, Belfast Metropolitan College and the core attraction of the 'Titanic Belfast' visitor centre.

Master planning for the 24-acre mixed-use City Quays site adjacent to the Harbour Office was secured. In addition planning permission was lodged for a 230,000 sq ft of space at Sydenham Business Park on the south-eastern fringes of the harbour.

Further upstream closer to the city-centre at the Abercorn Basin, initial work had been completed on a marina where there are more plans for the development of a 250-berth full-service leisure facility.

Next Monday the port's cruise business is to welcome a new cruiseship, the 66,000 tonnes Marina of Oceania Cruises. The 1,250-passenger /800 crew newbuild's arrival to Belfast comes in a year that marks the thirteenth anniversary since the first liner docked in the city. In 2011 over 30 such vessels are due to visit bringing some 50,000 passengers and crew.

Published in Ports & Shipping

It may just be another cruiseship visiting Dublin Port today, but the gleaming white painted Costa Marina started her career in complete constrast as a grey-hulled containership, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The cruiseship has some unusual hull design features indicating clues to her origins as the containership Axel Johnson (click PHOTO) notably the pronounced chine bow (horizontal-lines) still clearly visible under her name when launched in 1969 at the Oy Wärtsilä shipyard in Turku, Finland.

She was the leadship of five sisters of over 15,000 tonnes ordered by her Swedish owners, Johnson Line. The next sister completed, Annie Johnson was also converted into a cruiseship and she too serves Costa Cruises as their Costa Allegra.

Axel Johnson measured 174m in length and was fitted with two deck-mounted gantry-cranes to handle containers. Her design even catered for passengers but was limited to just four-persons compared to today near 800 passenger capacity and an increase in tonnage to 25,500. To see how she looks now click PHOTO

Her Scandinavian owners sold the vessel in 1986 though it was not until 1988 that the containership came into the ownership of her current owners Costa Cruises who converted the vessel at the Mariotti Shipyard in Genoa. Two years later the ship emerged as the Costa Marina (to see another click HERE).

She has nine decks which feature restaurants, bars, jacuzzis, pools, gym, treatment rooms, sauna, an outdoor jogging track, theatre, casino, disco and a squok club with PlayStation entertainment. Accommodation comprises for 383 cabins including 8 suites with private balcony and a crew close to 400.

Costa Cruises were founded in 1924 but they are a relative newcomer to Dublin. The vessel departs this evening from Ocean Pier bound for the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik. To view the ship's web-cam click HERE (noting to scroll right down the page).

Costa Marina and indeed larger cruiseships may in the future relocate upriver to berths much closer to the city-centre, should proposals by Dublin City Council take pace. In order to boost tourism numbers a dedicated new cruiseship terminal could be built at a site close to the O2 Arena and East-Link bridge.

The site at North Wall Quay Extension is currently in use by ferry operator P&O (Irish Sea) for their ro-ro route to Liverpool. To read more in a report in yesterday's Irish Times click HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners
23rd June 2011

The Empire Strikes Back

The 14,620 dwt US-based training-ship Empire State made a return call to the Port of Cork last night for a four-day stay, writes Jehan Ashmore.

At over 172m long the cruiser-sterned vessel with a port of registry of New York, moored at the Cobh Cruise Terminal which was recently visited by another US training ship, State of Maine (click HERE).

The veteran vessel now in her sixth decade of service and is the also the sixth training-ship to carry the name 'Empire State' for the State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College.

Empire State was laid down as SS Oregon at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newport News, Virginia. She was launched in 1961 for the States Steamship Company and delivered a year later for service in the Pacific trades. For further information about the vessel's interim career before she was converted for her current role click HERE.

Despite her conversion she still presents a distinctive profile with the superstructure positioned amidships between the cargo-holds.

Prior to the Empire State's arrival the French cruiseship Le Diamant departed Cobh for an overnight passage to Dublin, where last year the Empire State made a port of call.

The next cruise-caller to Cobh is the 296-passenger Silver Cloud which is scheduled to dock on Monday evening.

Published in Ports & Shipping
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