#LinerQueenMary2 -RMS Queen Mary 2 the world's largest ocean liner made her maiden visit to Dublin Bay, anchoring offshore in calm sunny conditions off Dun Laoghaire Harbour early this morning.
A five star welcome saw 3,000 passengers greeted by a piper and Irish dancers, tour guides, free wireless and business offers after docking at the Old Coal Harbour.
The RMS Queen Mary II is the first of a flotilla of 14 floating visitors to dock in Dún Laoghaire this year, bringing over 30,000 cruise passengers, and generating an income of €3 million for the area. This compares with just 200 passengers arriving in the harbour in 2012.
The QM2 -the longest, tallest, widest and most expensive liner ever built - departed Greenock in Scotland yesterday for Dún Laoghaire and she will continue voyage this evening to Holyhead and Liverpool, followed by Invergordon, Stavanger in Norway and then Hamburg in Germany.
Over 35 nationalities from every continent in the world (including 6 from Ireland!) were represented among the passengers, with the majority coming from Germany (1,400) followed by the UK (760) and the US (200).
A 'mini cruise-festival' this afternoon, will celebrate the Queen Mary 2 arrival with family entertainment, boat trips circling the ship, face painting, a complimentary vintage bus, live music and dancing and special offers throughout the town.
Queen Mary 2 passengers disembark at the recently installed passenger pontoon in Dun Laoghaire's Coal harbour. Photo: Jehan Ashmore
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 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. The Queen Mary 2 alone will generate a spend in the region of €400,000 for the area. We have big plans to continue with the rapid development of the lucrative cruise market in the coming months and years."
The liner makes an impressive site from the Dun Laoghaire shoreline. Photo: Jehan Ashmore
"The cruise ship market is the fastest-growing sector in the travel and leisure industry. Globally, it is experiencing accelerated growth of 7.2 per cent per annum despite the tourism industry declining overall. It generates direct spend in Ireland in excess of €20 million per annum, however this is a tiny fraction of the €27 billion the market is worth globally.
"The continuous expansion of the market has increased demand for additional destinations for cruise line operators. By responding to the high standards set out by the cruise companies, Dún Laoghaire is capitalising on this opportunity and we anticipate rapid year on year growth for Dún Laoghaire in the industry."
"Research conducted by Fáilte Ireland in 2010 revealed that over 80% of passengers disembarking in Ireland considered Ireland an important destination in their itinerary. The opportunity is enormous. Dún Laoghaire is seizing this opportunity. By responding to what they want, we will attract the business."
The initiative is supported by Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown Co. Council and the Dún Laoghaire Business Association.
PR from Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company Below:
Visit of Queen Mary 2 a Milestone in Development of Dún Laoghaire as Cruise Centre
Today (Thursday, May 16th) marks a significant milestone in the development of Dún Laoghaire Harbour as a location for visits by cruise ships, with the arrival this morning of the Queen Mary 2, flagship vessel of the famous Cunard line.
Around 4,000 passengers and 1,000 crew were on the vessel that arrived at 7.00am and will remain moored off the harbour until around 6.00pm this evening. Six further cruise vessels are expected to visit Dún Laoghaire Harbour over the next two months with a total of 14 expected over the full season.
Speaking after the arrival of the Queen Mary 2 this morning, the CEO of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, Gerry Dunne, said: "This is an historic day for Dún Laoghaire Harbour and augurs well for our plans to develop the harbour as the key port along the east coast for cruise visits."
"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 very significantly."
"Working with the Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group the Harbour Company 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. This is entirely consistent with the designation of Dún Laoghaire under the recently published National Ports Policy as a centre for marine related tourism and recreational activities."
"The visit of the Queen Mary 2 shows the potential of this sector of tourism to deliver significant economic benefit to Dún Laoghaire, the Greater Dublin area and the country in general".