#MidSizeShip - Astor which at 20,000 tonnes is termed as a mid-sized cruiseship called to Dublin Port today having made a cruise along the Wild Atlantic Way, writes Jehan Ashmore.
A pilot cutter in Dublin Bay came alongside Astor that had sailed overnight from Killybegs. The cruiseship made a leisurely late morning arrival in the port at around 11.30hrs. This compared to the routine majority of dawn arrival calls and mostly undertaken by considerably larger cruiseships.
The Astor was allocated a berth next to the Tom Clarke (East-Link) toll-bridge from where motorist commuters this evening will be able to glimpse the handsome looking vessel until departing at 19.30hrs. Cobh is the next port of call and so the Cork Harbour cruise berth will almost complete a full circumnavigation of the island since Astor called to Bantry on Tuesday.
The 600-only capacity cruiseship with its stylish funnel casing design is operated by German operator Transocean and UK based partner Cruise & Maritime Voyages. Early next month CMV's soon to be replaced flagship Magellen is to make a call to Dublin from Newport. The south Wales port is not normally associated with the cruise sector however Magellan is to make an overnight call.
As for Astor, here's a brief description of facilities. Asides the expected wide range of dinging options, there is a library, card room, internet café and a shopping arcade featuring a boutique, jeweller and perfumery. There is the Wellness Centre offering hairdressing and beauty treatments, an indoor swimming pool, ocean view gym, sauna and massage facilities.
Apart from Bantry Bay from where another smaller ship Serenissima recently opened the season at west Cork location, Astor also headed into the Shannon Estuary to Foynes. Notably the mid-west port is infrequently used by the cruise sector despite its accessible deep waterway.
A sister of Astor, Saga Pearl II but operating for Saga Cruises has also offered cruisegoers to experience less well known ports and or are less accessible to larger deep drafted ships. In the case of Saga Pearl II a call was made to Warrenpoint and given its location requires a passage up Carlingford Lough presenting a mountainous coastal backdrop. The call to the Co. Down port was the first ever by a cruiseship and this took place in 2014.
Also further along the Down coast is another beauty spot, Strangford Lough, where the aforementioned Serenissima called to Portaferry yesterday. This call by Serenissima Cruises follows their opening of the cruise season in Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Wednesday.
Fred Olsen have also offered cruisegoers in recent years to visit less well explored ports in Irish and UK waters among them Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. More of their mid-sized cruiseships will be seen throughout Irish waters as the season begins to get busier this month.