Dublin Port Company has announced the launch of its 2016 cruise season as preparations get underway for the return of luxury cruise liner MSC Splendida next week. She is among 113 cruise calls confirmed this season, the largest number of cruise calls in a year for Dublin Port bringing over 180,000 visitors to experience the city’s sights and attractions. Among the 113 calls are four turnaround cruises, which will see passengers travel to Dublin to begin their cruise.
Dublin Port’s cruise business started as early as January with three calls in the first quarter, but the season begins in earnest next week with the arrival of the 333m long MSC Splendida on Tuesday, 3rd May. Currently the 11th longest cruise ship in the world, her inaugural call made maritime history when she became the longest vessel ever to visit Dublin Port last summer. She will return next Tuesday morning carrying over 4,600 passengers and crew on board.
One of this season’s highlights will be the arrival of the 300m long Disney Magic cruise ship when Dublin Port becomes the first Irish port to welcome one of Disney Cruise Line’s signature vessels on Thursday, 26th May. Disney Magic’s maiden call will bring some 3,650 passengers, cast and crew to the capital.
Days later over 200 delegates from leading cruise destinations will converge on Dublin for the Cruise Europe Conference, which will be co-hosted by Dublin Port and Dublin City Council and held in the capital for the first time. The prestigious three day event (31st May – 2nd June 2016) will showcase Dublin to all the major cruise lines and service suppliers of the cruise industry worldwide.
The event comes as Dublin Port plans to market Dublin as a ‘Home Port’ to the cruise industry, having recently established a new cruise tourism development and marketing agency called Cruise Dublin. Set up to promote Dublin as Ireland’s cruise capital to cruise lines internationally, Cruise Dublin works collectively with its members which are drawn from the capital’s leading retail outlets, visitor experiences and tourism bodies, including Fáilte Ireland. As a membership organisation, Cruise Dublin’s remit is to support those businesses in the capital looking to develop their offering in tandem with the future growth of Dublin as a marquee cruise destination.
Pat Ward, Head of Corporate Services, Dublin Port Company, said: “2016 is shaping up to be an exciting year for cruise at Dublin Port with 113 cruise calls and over 180,000 visitors scheduled for the port and the city. We are delighted to welcome the return of MSC Splendida, and one of the highlights this season will be the arrival of Disney Magic on her maiden call in May. For the first time this year, Dublin Port will also host the Cruise Europe Conference.”
“Dublin is rapidly developing a reputation among the international cruise lines as a marquee destination that offers passengers easy access to a vibrant European city. Demand in the market is so strong that Dublin Port is being asked by the cruise lines to accommodate ships much larger than we routinely handle, such as the MSC Splendida. With the ABR Project largely complete in the next four years, Dublin Port will have the enhanced infrastructure and capacity to meet market demand for future years. All the signs from the cruise lines now point to Dublin’s potential to become one of the next leading turnaround capitals for cruise passengers by 2020, especially for the North American market.”
Dublin Port’s current operational limit on ship length is 300m, which means that longer ships such as MSC Splendida cannot currently turn within the Liffey and must, therefore either reverse in or reverse out of Dublin Port. Work has already commenced on the €230m ABR Project which will expand capacity in Dublin Port and will be largely completed in four years. The ABR Project, once complete, will mean that larger ships will be able to routinely call at Dublin Port, turn within the expanded Alexandra Basin West and berth as far upriver as East Link Bridge.