#CRUISE LINERS – According to the Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO), a number of calls by international cruise ships to Irish ports, many on their maiden calls to this country, have visited within the first half of 2012.
Irish Ports had confirmed visits for 202 international cruise liners this year and so far they have welcomed a broad collection of vessels including Princess Cruises 'Grand' class liner Grand Princess in January which lead to the disembarkation of an estimated 4,000 visitors to Dublin Port.
Also calling to the capital as previously reported was the $250m luxury cruise liner MSC Lirica carrying almost 3,000 passengers and Cobh during the month of August. She is due to make a repeat call to both ports this weekend, firstly to the capital and then sailing overnight to Cobh.
Over the past two years, it has been estimated that the cruise ship industry has contributed €20.3 million to the island of Ireland.
With the increase in bigger liner ships calling to this country there are clear indications that the contribution that the cruise industry is making to the Irish economy will have a significant influence on the economic opportunities for the hinterland's of Irish host ports, and could be worth a potential €60 million over the next few years.
Most recently, at the Cruise Europe Conference 2012 held at Royal Greenwich, London, Captain Michael McCarthy of the Port of Cork, was unanimously elected Chairman of Cruise Europe. Captain McCarthy is currently serving as Commercial Manager with the Port of Cork Company.
Commenting on the Irish cruise business, the newly elected chairman of Cruise Europe, Captain Michael McCarthy said: "There are many indirect economic and tourism benefits to Ireland from the cruise sector, as well as the benefit of introducing Ireland to new markets and growing business opportunities. Cruise visits help to showcase Ireland's world class shore products, destinations and highlight all that Ireland has to offer visitors."
He continued: "One of Ireland's advantages is the strategic and geographic spread of its numerous ports, many of which are in close proximity to world class tourism destinations and it is with this in mind that Ireland will be promoted with the North and Atlantic European destinations to develop thriving and 'must see' destinations".