#LinerQueenMary2 -Final preparations are underway as Dún Laoghaire gears up for the first ever visit of the world's only ocean liner – the giant RMS Queen Mary 2.
The impressive Cunard Line 'flagship' all of 151,400 tonnes, is due to anchor offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Thursday morning, at around 07.00hrs.She has a 2,600 passnenger capacity and a crew of 1,200.
Her inaugural call is to bring a €400,000 boost to the local economy during her one-day visit!
In total €3m is to be generated from the 2013 cruise season with 14 arrivals bringing 30,000 passengers to Dún Laoghaire Harbour. In stark contrast to last year when the port handled just 300 passengers.
A five star welcome will see the QM2 passengers greeted by a piper and Irish dancers as they embark at the old Coal Harbour, where the cruise-dock pontoon was installed last year for use by such large deep-drafted vessels and their tender craft.
To get around the town, a shuttle bus will bring passengers to receive a warm welcome in the grounds of the Royal Marine Hotel, where guests will be greeted with mini-samples of Guinness, character actors from local tourism sites.
A bespoke 'tourism office' with volunteers will provide tourism information and handing out booklets of vouchers and offers for shops, restaurants and tourism outlets in the area.
In addition a Dún Laoghaire phone app has been specially developed for cruise passengers to maximise enjoyment and avail of special discounts and offers while touring the town.
The Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholders' Group has also installed an advanced wireless facility in Dún Laoghaire so passengers can enjoy extensive free internet access throughout the town itself and extending as far as the cruise liner during their stay.
A 'mini cruise-festival' for both cruise and domestic visitors will include food and craft markets, family entertainment, boat trips circling Queen Mary 2 and there is to be live music aired throughout the town.
Don McManus, chairman of the Dún Laoghaire Business Association says excitement is rife among the Dún Laoghaire Business community: "The arrival of the Queen Mary 2 on Thursday marks the beginning of a new era for Dún Laoghaire. The business community has been hugely supportive in funding the cruise welcome and associated publicity. We have big plans to continue with the rapid development of the lucrative cruise market in the coming years. Last year saw the arrival of just two cruise ships carrying 300 crew and passengers.
Following the establishment of a Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group and an aggressive international marketing strategy, this year we will welcome fourteen cruise ships with over 30,000 passengers and crew!"
The initiative is supported by Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Co. Council and the Dún Laoghaire Business Association