#QM2Farewell– Queen Mary 2 under the command of master Kevin Oprey, weighed anchor in Dublin Bay yesterday evening after her historic maiden visit off Dun Laoghaire Harbour and from where a flotilla set out to take a final close-up view of the massive majestic liner, writes Jehan Ashmore.
She is certainly a vessel of superlatives, being the longest, tallest, widest and most expensive liner ever built, when launched in 2003. Among the facilities on the 14 deck liner are a 3D cinema and a planetarium.
Over 35 nationalities from every continent in the world including Ireland!... were represented among the passengers, with the majority coming from Germany (1,400) followed by the UK (760) and the US (200).
Today the liner is berthed at Liverpool Cruise Terminal. Her debut call to Dublin Bay is her third visit in Irish waters, following Cobh in 2011 and an anchorage call off Dunmore East, Waterford Estuary in 2005.
The QM2 had spent more than half a day in Dublin Bay while at anchorage with tenders kept busy plying to and fro to the passneger pontoon in the Coal Harbour while crowds of onlookers took to the seafront to view the impressive liner.
Her visit marked a significant milestone in the changing fortunes of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, as the Holyhead fast-ferry HSS Stena Explorer in recent years has reduced to a seasonal-only service. When introduced in 1996, the HSS fast-craft carried up to five round-trips daily.
To get a sense of the sheer size of the QM2 she is 72m high (keel to funnel) compared to the HSS fast-craft which is only 27.5m.
Anchor aweigh... starboard side of the liner. Photo Jehan Ashmore
The call by the famous Cunard Line 'flagship' is a major coup for Dun Laoghaire Harbour and the visit is estimated to generate a spend of €400,000 alone to the area.
Following the successful launch of the 2014 season by the QM2, the port also welcomed yesterday the small cruiseship Serenissima which docked within the harbour walls.
Over the next two months a further six cruise vessels are scheduled to visit, among them is P&O Cruises 710-passenger Adonia, which is due next week.
In total the port is to welcome be 14 callers bringing 30,000 passengers and generate an income of €3 million.
The cruising business is a growing market sector in the tourism industry and where Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company is to capitalise in this market with plans to develop a dedicated cruise terminal as part of the 'masterplan'.
The facility will be able to accommodate much larger cruiseships than present and with vessels up to 340m long.