#CruiseWaterford - Noble Caledonia, an operator in the high-end small ship cruise market whose latest addition, Hebridean Sky yesterday called to Dun Laoghaire Harbour, having sailed from the quays of Waterford City, writes Jehan Ashmore.
This was the 4,200 tonnes ship’s second call this year to the River Suir quayside berth that allowed her guests easy access to Ireland’s oldest city. The 72 crew of Hebridean Sky with other cruise-goers are to visit the city with a third and final call this season at the end of August.
In all 16 callers are to visit the Port of Waterford, where the smallest cruiseships sail to the city quays whereas Belview, the main terminal for the Port of Waterford caters for medium sized cruiseships. This leaves, Dunmore East at the mouth of the estuary with deeper waters for much larger cruiseships to anchor and passengers tendered and from the fishing harbour.
The former Sea Explorer renamed Hebridean Sky was re-launched for Noble Caledonia this season as one of a trio of flagships, after undergoing a multi-million refurbishment in Sweden. During Spring’s dry-docking of Hebridean Sky, this involved upgrading to both technical and interiors including crew quarters.
At only 90m long the 114 guest cruiseship joins a pair of flagship sisters, Hebridean Sky and Caledonian Sky, the trio are more akin to private yachts and amongst the most luxurious in this market. The trio under Noble Caledonia operate expedition cruising destinations including the Antarctic as well to runnning a fleet of river cruising vessels.
The Caledonian Sky under a previous operator, Hebridean Island Cruises visited Dun Laoghaire Harbour in 2001 as Hebridean Spirit which berthed at the East Pier. On that occasion, I was able to board as a port visitor during a promotional cruise tour. Sadly, the use of this berth, no. 1 is no longer available to visiting tallships, navies and mostly vessels of the Irish Naval Service.
It was noted then the recent changes made to the 'Spirit's exterior styling, notably the single funnel, compared to her sisters twin uptakes. This work was carried out for Hebridean Island Cruises, which still operates Hebridean Princess, which is claimed to be the most luxurious small-cruise ship in the world.
The former CalMac ferry, Columba, mostly cruises throughout the Scottish Isles, but also the rest of the UK and occasional calls to Ireland.