#LIRICA CALLS AGAIN – Only on her second cruise call to Dublin Port, MSC Lirica (2003/59,058grt) as previously reported on Afloat.ie, docked this morning into the capital brimming with tallships, adding another attraction for cruise-goers, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The $250m ship, made her maiden call to Ireland just over a fortnight ago with over 3,000 passengers. The 251m long vessel operated by Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) Cruises, which is the newest company to enter the Irish market and in total there are 90 callers to Dublin Port in 2012.
In May next year the port is to welcome another MSC Cruises vessel with the larger 293m MSC Magnifica, which cost $547million and was only completed in 2010.
The value of the sector is estimated to generate €35 and €50 million for the local economy, bringing over 100,000 high-spend passengers and crew to the city and surrounding areas' shops, attractions and eateries each year.
Add to that, an estimated 1 million visitors over the four-day Tall Ships festival, not to mention the international crew of 1,500 and attendant publicity. Albeit the tallships festival in Dublin is an infrequent event as it was held in the capital in 1998.
However this is the opposite with the expanding cruise business sector, where increasingly larger liners are making more regular calls. In order to cope with capacity the Dublin Port Company's Masterplan 2012-2040 has proposed a new €110m cruise terminal identified beside the East Link toll-lift bridge, recent witness to the numerous tallships passing through.
On a nationwide basis, over the last two years, it has been estimated that the cruise ship industry has contributed €20.3 million. Noting many cruise-callers make visits to more than one Irish port, particularly those calling to the premier ports, where economic opportunities for the hinterland's could be worth a potential €60 million over the next few years.
The Swiss headquartered MSC group don't just operate cruiseships, and are not new to Ireland, as for several years through their global container shipping division, its operation here, MSC (Ireland) started providing direct container shipping routes.
Initially they used their own tonnage (later chartered vessels) from one of the world's largest containership fleets, where the MSC compass brand symbol can be seen on the mixed fleet but also on the containers themselves.