#CruiseNorthWest – Polar cruiseship Fram, a Norwegian-flagged 418 passenger vessel operated by Hurtigruten, became the first visitor this season having docked in Londonderry today, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Fram which has a rather stout looking appearance measuring 114m long, had arrived from Stornoway, Isle of Lewis of the Outer Hebrides. She also presents a striking livery with her black hull separated from her white superstructure by a bold red band.
This colour scheme applies to her fleetmates that are not cruiseships but are essentially multi-purpose vessels that perform the role of carferry, cruiseship and cargo-carrying that 'Hurtigruten' operate daily sailings between Bergen and Kirkenes beyond the Arctic Circle and close to the Russian border.
Fram represents the cruise industry sector to the north-west port which is to welcome a further four callers this season. She is the only cruiseship to berth along the quays of Londonderry, where she docked at the city centre berth.
Two medium sized cruiseships, Delphin and Seabourn Legend are to berth downriver at Lisahally on the east side of Lough Foyle, while on the west coast, off Greencastle, Co. Donegal, the larger Adonia and Crystal Symphony are to make anchorage calls.
Since 1995, Londonderry Port has opened up for business in attracting cruiseships, and among this year's operators are P&O Cruises and Seabourn.
In total more than 4,000 passengers and crew are to visit the city which has hosted in recent years prestigious sailing events, maritime festivals and the high-profile Derry-Londonderry European City of Culture in 2013. This year the city looks forward to Music City 2014.