#RoyalVisitor – Royal Princess at a commanding 142,000 tonnes is even larger than yesterday's Dublin Port record caller MSC Splendida, as this morning's latest caller made her maiden call off Dun Laoghaire Harbour by anchoring in Dublin Bay, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 19 deck cruiseship christened by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge almost two years ago at her UK homeport of Southampton had yesterday called to Cobh. This is where her sister Regal Princess was the first caller to dock last month after completion of phase one of Cobh's upgraded deepwater berth.She also became Belfast's biggest caller last year.
The work at Cobh Cruise Terminal is designed to accept RCI's mega sized 'Quantum' class 168,000 tonnes giants with almost 5,000 passengers in which the Port of Cork hope to attract in 2017.
It is the depth of water that restricts Royal Princess drawing 8.5 metres and those such as the 'Quantum' class from entering Dun Laoghaire Harbour.
The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company have proposed a €18m single cruise-berth jetty as part of a 'masterplan'. The jetty would jutt out 435m and almost be in the centre of the south Dublin Bay port. The plans have been met with mixed reaction and in which An Bord Pleanala will review the planning application along with an Enviromental Impact Statement (EIS).
A similar process applies to Dublin Port Company's proposed €30m double-berth cruise terminal to enable much larger callers to dock closer to the city-centre.
As for the length of these 'next generation' cruiseships, MSC Splendida's 333 metres is a Dublin Port record and also pips the Royal newcomer by a mere 3 metres.
In the meantime Royal Princess launches the first of record 21 cruise callers this season to Dun Laoghaire bringing around 100,000 passengers and crew.
She had approached Dublin Bay from offshore via the Kish Lighthouse and North Burford before anchoring over a nautical mile of the harbour's East Pier, which offer some of the best vantage points as does Sandycove and Bulloch Harbour, Dalkey.
Royal Princess is deemed as one of the "Most Popular Ships at Sea" according to Cruise Critic and has already won five prestigious Travel Weekly Magellan Awards in the Large Ship, Atrium, Spa, Pool and Mobile App Design categories. A notably feature is the innovative SeaWalk which being hailed as one of the "Top Gee-Whiz Features at Sea" by USA Today!
Situated on top deck is the largest pool ever featured with Princess Cruises and an enhanced Movies Under the Stars screen. Those seeking a dizzying thrill, there's the aforementioned SeaWalk's of all 128 feet high offering a straight down vertical view!
Several decks below at the bow is where during this morning's anchorage procedures, a special Princess Cruises 50th anniversary flag was raised at the prow of the massive cruiseship.
As for another example of the ships dimensions, she has a breadth of 44 metres, that's four times that of the Naval Service CPV L.E. Orla (P41), a former Royal Navy coastal patrol vessel.
Her naval homeport of Haulbowline facing Cobh is where MSC Splendida today made her maiden call to Cork Harbour. She is one of the largest to visit Cobh noting the biggest albeit 'liner' status of Cunard's QM2 has called in more recent years. She made her Dun Laoghaire debut in 2013.
So when it comes to who is the Irish 'King' of the cruise crown title, this rests with RCI's Independence of the Seas of a whopping 154,000 tonnes which made her debut to Cobh in 2007.
Returning to the former Royal Navy CPV named HMS Swift she served the Hong Kong Patrol Squadron until transfer to the Naval Service in 1988. The CPV visited Southampton's neighbouring port of Portsmouth in 2013 where the RN's base nd HQ are located. Again the same year Royal Princess was commissioned into service to serve the expanding UK cruise market.