#cruiseliners – Following a trip to the United States over the St. Patrick's Day period by representatives of the Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group to promote Dún Laoghaire as a destination for visits by cruise ships, it is expected that the harbour will - this year - experience its most successful season.
Up to 14 cruise vessels are expected to use the facilities at Dún Laoghaire, bringing potentially up to 30,000 passengers and crew ashore. The highlight of the season is likely to be the visit on 16th May of the Queen Mary II - the flagship vessel of the famous Cunard Line - with 3,000 passengers and several hundred crew members aboard.
The cruise line business is a growing market sector in the tourism industry. Ireland has recently begun to capitalise on this market and, over the last few years, has succeeded in attracting a growing number of visits by cruise liners. However, the number of trips to Ireland represents a very small share of this potential market and the opportunity exists to grow this business to the Irish economy quite significantly.
The Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group has engaged in a vigorous marketing campaign, particularly in the United States, to enable Dún Laoghaire to tap into this lucrative market.
To ensure that the harbour is also capable of catering for the new generation of larger cruise vessels, the Stakeholder Group has initiated a pre-application consultation with An Bord Pleanála (under Section 37 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000) in regard to proposals for the construction of a new quay in Dún Laoghaire Harbour to cater for vessels of up to c.340m long.
In general, cruise liners are getting bigger, but currently Cobh is the only harbour in Ireland that can accommodate next generation of ships. The absence of a harbour in Dublin Bay with the capacity to handle the next generation cruise liners has been identified as a serious inhibitor to growing Ireland's market share in this sector.
Spokesperson for the Cruise Stakeholder Group, Patrick Delaney, said: "We are delighted with the results of our latest marketing efforts in the United States and the growing recognition by cruise operators and passengers alike of the unique attractions offered by Dún Laoghaire Harbour."
"The proposal for the construction of the new quay is a hugely exciting development that has the potential to deliver significant economic benefit to Dún Laoghaire, the greater Dublin area and the country in general," he said.
One of the objectives of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Master Plan, published in 2011, was to enhance Dún Laoghaire's attractiveness as a gateway for tourists to Ireland by offering state-of- the-art berthing and terminal facilities to ferry and cruise operators. According to Mr Delaney: "The proposed new quay can make this a reality and greatly enhance Dún Laoghaire's attractiveness as a cruise destination.
"A report commissioned from in 2011 from DKM Economic Consultants, STS Sustainable Transport Solutions International, and Arup found that a new cruise facility at Dún Laoghaire Harbour would bring significant additional benefits to the town and surrounding area. The report said that 168 jobs would be provided during the construction phase of the facility. There would be 48 jobs created at the start of operations, with the potential for a substantial increase as the cruise business developed."
"I am sure that everyone in Dún Laoghaire will work to ensure that the cruise passengers who visit our harbour and our town this year will have a truly memorable experience," added Patrick Delaney.