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#CunardCapitalCall – Queen Victoria, Cunard Line's elder 'Vista' class cruiseship called to Dublin Port in the late morning today as part of a 7-night 'Lusitania Remember' commemorative cruise from Southampton, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Having sailed overnight from Cobh where the main ceremony took place, this morning she passed Wicklow Head lighthouse at some 14 knots. From thereon she gradually reduced speed on the southern approaches to Dublin Bay.

Even at 90,049 tonnes the Italian built vessel with 2,194 passengers on board the 12-deck vessel has more graceful lines to other similar sized cruiseships.

She picked up a pilot off the cutter Liffey close to the South Burford Buoy.

When she further entered Dublin Bay offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, this is where an anchorage call of her sister, Queen Elizabeth first took place in 2013.

In that same season the Cunard flagship cruise-liner Queen Mary 2 made her first appearance in Dublin Bay and again on that occasion she anchored off Dun Laoghaire.

The massive 151,000 tonnes 'liner' has not visited Dublin Port either, though the largest ever cruiseship is due to visit the port, MSC Splendida of 137,000 tonnes and longest at 333m is set to call to the capital port next Monday.

The record-breaking visit of MSC Cruises 'Fantasia' class cruiseship with 3,600 passenger capacity will also be a historic maritime milestone as this will be the biggest ship of any kind to visit Dublin Port.

Should one or both of the proposed cruise-berthing facilities totalling almost €50m be given the go-ahead in Dublin Port and neighbouring Dun Laoghaire Harbour, it would only be then that even bigger behemoths of the cruise industry will be able to berth within port.

In the meantime, the 294m Queen Victoria was able to turn around within Alexandra Basin. This part of the port is awaiting An Bord Pleanala decision on the proposed €200 million reconfiguration of the west basin that includes the dedicated cruise terminal. The proposed redevelopment would also require significant dredging including the channel leading to the port.

The 'Cunarder' came alongside Alexandra Basin's berth 33. This same stretch lining Ocean Pier within the basin is where MSC Splendida will notably berth 'astern' due to the existing confines of the port layout.

Such sized cruiseships and even larger in addition to increasingly bigger cargoships cannot use the existing turning circle which dictates ultimately the size of vessel using the port.

Published in Cruise Liners

#Lusitania100 – RMS Lusitania was given a fitting tribute in the early hours of this morning as Cunard Line's Queen Victoria took up position last night over the wreck site off the Old Head of Kinsale, where she sank 100 years ago marking the single most tragic event in the liner company's 175 year history.

The liner Lusitania left New York for Liverpool on 1st May 1915 with 1959 passengers and crew onboard.

On 7th May 1915, a single torpedo fired from the German U-boat U-20 slammed into the starboard side of the Lusitania off the southern coast of Ireland. The ship listed and sank in just 18 minutes. While 761 of those on board were rescued, most were not so fortunate.

On board Queen Victoria, passengers are taking the 'Lusitania Remembered' commemorative cruise.

As previously reported on Queen Victoria departed Southampton last Sunday along with her Cunard's fleetmates down the Solent.

Before Queen Victoria called to Cobh this morning, guests were witness to dropping of wreaths and floral offerings into the sea at the ceremony held on board (SEE PHOTOS) in the early hours of this morning in addition to a number of other tributes.

A Commemorative Dinner was held last night on board and today a special service was held ashore in Cobh (Queenstown) as it was known a century ago. 

At 2.10pm the Queen Victoria's whistle marked the time when Lusitania was torpedoed and this was followed by a second whistle sounded at 2.28pm to indicate how little time there was between the first hit and the ship's sinking.

Historian Eric Sauder will produce a temporary exhibition of Lusitania memorabilia that will be displayed on board Queen Victoria during her 3 – 10 May 2015 voyage. The exhibit will feature china, silver, brochures, postcards, memorabilia, and souvenirs that will bring to life the story of Cunard's flagship.

Three experts will be sailing as speakers during the cruise: maritime historian Chris Frame, Lusitania expert and owner of the Lusitania artefacts Eric Sauder and Irish Lusitania Expert Senan Molony.

Published in Cruise Liners

#BantryBay - Sea Explorer I entered the scenic seclusion of Glengariff in Bantry Bay today and where the mere 90m vessel of 4,200 tonnes anchored off Garnish Island, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The 114 guest luxury small ship, part of the cruise agency operator Noble Caledonia fleet is according to Bantry Bay Port Company schedule to be the only caller so far listed for 2015.

Accommodation of the 1991 Italian built vessel is of 57 spacious suites and all outside with an average of 245 sq ft. Facilities offered are of a high standard albeit on board an intimate sized ship.

Yesterday she had been to St. Peter Port, Guernsey again at an anchorage along with Cunard Line's 90,080 tonnes Queen Victoria. The Cunarder had departed Southampton at the weekend to mark the start of the company's 175th anniversary with a celebratory cruise in company down Solent water.

Tomorrow she calls to Cobh on the centenary of the RMS Lusitania disaster during WW1.

Last month the Port of Cork outlined plans for Phase 1 of the Bantry Inner Harbour Development (incl 20-berth marina) which will be undertaken on behalf of its subsidiary company, Bantry Bay Port Company.

Over two years ago Sea Explorer (see photo) arrived to Dun Laoghaire Harbour albeit in a 'lay-up' mode in advance to taking up a European season with cruises starting in June 2013.

She is equipped with Zodiacs for expedition landings and for reaching isolated locations.

Another expedition / polar cruiseship Fram with 400 passengers and operated by Norwegia based Hurtigruten was understood to be the first caller to Galway Harbour this season.

The call of the Fram took place at the end of April and likewise of the 'Explorer' this involved anchoring offshore.

Published in Cruise Liners

#GrandClassCaller - Princess Cruises 'Grand' class Caribbean Princess of 112,894 tonnes docked in Dublin Port this morning as one of the largest ever ships to call and at a deck higher than the historic call next week of the mighty MSC Spendida set to break all records, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Despite the record-breaking visit next Monday of MSC Splendida 137,396 tonnes one should not easily dismiss today's call of the higher 19-deck Caribbean Princess with 3,142 passengers and 1,200 crew. Noting a sister, Ventura of P&O Cruises is understood to hold the current Dublin Port record at 116,017 tonnes as the largest ever ship of any type to visit the capital.

MSC Splendida is however the longest cruiseship at 333m long to visit Dublin Port. Due to the confines of quayside layout this is why the 3,247 passenger / 1,370 crew vessel is to enter stern first i.e. in 'reverse'. As currently Alexandra Basin's turning circle is too restricted to swing the vessel within port.

It was however more than a decade ago that the 100,000 tonnes milestone of any ship to enter Dublin Port was surpassed. The honour went to 'Grand' class leadship, Grand Princess of 108,806 tonnes to set that historic first in 2004. As for the sheer size of the ship, I vividly recall the scene as she glided past the Poolbeg Lighthouse under a brilliant welcoming blue sky over the port and city alike.

Then that record-breaking 'Grand' call was also particularly notable given that the owners of Princess Cruises, Miami based Carnival Corporation had a contract with Dublin Port Company to bring 26,000 passengers and 14,000 crew alone throughout the following year. At the time these cruise tourism figures were the equivalent to 10 normal cruises generating an estimated €23m to the capital's economy.

Also notable during the 'Grand's class inaugural call was the vessel's distinctive signature 'Skywalker's Nightclub'. Having boarded for a port visit,  this structure seemingly perched precariously in a cradle suspended above the stern was at 18-decks high!  On the 'Caribbean' this feature remains on deck 19, affording even more amazing views over the sea and port destinations visited.

Ironically, the structure of the Italian 1998 built Grand Princess was removed in recent years as previously reported on This was to improve efficiencies on operational fuel costs.

The Grand Princess current tonnage is still an impressive 107,517 and given that the class remain the most frequent and largest callers to the island for more than a decade, calling not just to Dublin Port but also Belfast and to Cork. Princess Cruises celebrates 50 years of service noting a sister brand, Cunard Line have their 175th anniversary also in 2015. 

Next week's call to Dublin Port of MSC Splendida on Monday (11 May) will certainly elevate the position of the port status to accommodate much larger cruiseships given the proposed €30 cruise terminal at Alexandra Basin.

The proposed double-berth facility near the East-Link bridge would allow for even larger cruiseships to berth those been Royal Caribbean Lines 360m long mega 'Quantum' class with almost a 5,000 passenger capacity.

Add to the mix are Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company plans for a proposed €18m single cruise-berth.

MSC Splendida will make another Dublin Bay appearance albeit at anchorage off Dun Laoghaire Harbour on 21st May. Before she calls, the opening Dun Laoghaire season caller as previously reported will be Royal Princess (not 'Grand' class) on 12th May. Again this visit offshore is where tenders will cater for the 3,600 passenger capacity vessel of 141,000 tonnes completed in 2013 and which has a 1,346 crew.

Only the Port of Cork will be able to claim the ability to accommodate the Quantum class trio, when phase two of a €1.5m upgrade is completed later this year at Cobh.

As previously reported, Cobh expects to handle these massive cruiseships but not until 2017.

Published in Cruise Liners

#dlharbour – The Dun Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group will launch its 2015 cruise season today. The year is set to be the most successful cruise season for Dun Laoghaire, with an expected 100,000 passengers and crew set to arrive into the Harbour over the next five months.
Ahead of the calls, the Cruise Stakeholder Group has put in place a welcome programme which will run for each cruise call. The welcome programme will comprise entertainment, shuttle bus transport and an ambassador scheme to provide information and guidance to cruise visitors.
The first cruise visit of the season will take place on Tuesday, 12th May with the arrival of the Royal Princess. The ship will be on its maiden voyage, and will carry over 5,000 crew and passengers.
During Wednesday's launch, the Dun Laoghaire Stakeholder Group will unveil full details of its cruise welcome programme, as well as announcing key dates for major cruise calls.
Dun Laoghaire Stakeholder Group is comprised Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council and the local BID Company. 

Speaking ahead of the event, Chairperson of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, Eithne Scott Lennon said: "We are delighted to be welcoming cruise visits in such numbers to Dun Laoghaire over the coming months. We are working collectively with the Council and local businesses to ensure that visitors get a taste of the local area through our welcome programme. Increased cruise visitors should provide a welcome boost to the local economy."

#CorkCruiseDouble – Cork Harbour today welcomed two very large cruiseships, though at separate locations due to the combined length of these impressive vessels, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The larger of the two Princess Cruises callers, the 330m long Royal Princess named by Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, in 2013, entered Cork Harbour after the Caribbean Princess. The later cruiseship albeit smaller at 290m is still a large vessel in terms of those calling to an Irish port. 

Royal Princess of all 141,000 gross tonnes has a 3,600 passenger /1,300 crew total and had berthed alongside Cobh from where her newer sister Regal Princess also called late last month.

More cruiseships from the Carnival Corporation brand have visited Cobh down through the years among them Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth. 

Elder sister Queen Victoria as previously reported is on a 'Remembering Lusitania' commemorative cruise to Cobh this Thursday, the day the liner sank a century ago during WWI when U-Boat 20 fired a torpedo that led to a huge loss of life.

Royal Princess had sailed from Ponta Delgada, Azores and likewise the 112,894 tonnes Caribbean Princess with up to 3,100 passengers.

Another double-take is that both vessels were built by Fincantieri in Monfalcone, Italy and equally they draw the same draft of 8.5m. 

As previously reported on, the cruise-quay facility at Cobh recently underwent phase one of €1.5m upgrade to facilitate even larger cruiseships, notably RCI's mega 'Quantum' class of 347m in length. These massive 168,000 tonnes cruiseships with almost 5,000 passengers are expected to visit the Port of Cork's Cobh Cruise Terminal but not until at least 2017.

The facility can currently accommodate two cruiseships at the same time though in comparison notably smaller sized ships to what the future holds.

So where in the case of today's double call scenario did the 3,100 passenger Caribbean Princess go to berth? The large 'Grand' class cruiseship had sailed beyond Cobh to another deepwater quay alongside Ringaskiddy. 

This is where Cunard Line's 'liner' 'QE2' had berthed as well as to Cobh where she bade her final farewell visit in 2008. Her successor Queen Mary 2 has made calls to the lower Cork Harbour town cruise destination.

As for the Princess pair they are scheduled to depart this evening half an hour apart from 20.00hrs. In total the port is expected to see 55 cruise calls this season.

Published in Cruise Liners

#Cunard175th - Cunard Line's three 'Queens' departed Southampton this evening to mark the start of celebrating the world famous company's 175th anniversary, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Leading the way from the UK homeport was Queen Mary 2, the 151,000 tonnes 2,600 passenger flagship cruise 'liner' which along with her fleetmates departed down Solent water and out into the English Channel.

The procession saw the cruiseship trio pass Cowes, Isle of Wight and at 19.00hrs this evening when Queen Victoria set off on a RMS 'Lusitania Remembered' memorial commemorative cruise to Cobh. She was astern of Queen Elizabeth which likewise of 'QM2' are all to visit Irish ports this season. 

The 'Vista' class Queen Victoria is to call to Cobh Cruise Terminal next Thursday in memory of the sinking of the RMS Lusitania 100 years ago. The liner was sunk by a torpedo from German submarine (U-Boat 20) on 7 May 1915.

It was in the previous century that Cunard began operations with Britannia when she left British waters in 1840 bound for America. Ever since the prestigious luxury brand have taken guests between the continents.

Below is outlined the current Cunard fleet and each of the captains in command of the cruises that began this evening and to where each of the respective cruiseships next port of call.

Queen Mary 2 (Captain Christopher Wells) set sail bound for New York

Queen Elizabeth (Captain Inger Klein Thorhauge) is heading for Hamburg

Queen Victoria (Commodore Christopher Rynd) underway for St. Peter Port, Guernsey

All three cruiseships have previously called to Irish ports, notably Queen Mary 2 which made her debut off Dunmore East, Waterford Estuary in 2005.

Published in Cruise Liners

#DublinsBiggestShip – Dublin Port is to have the biggest ever ship of any type to call when cruiseship MSC Splendida of all 137,926 gross tonnes is to make her Irish debut instead of anchoring firstly offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, writes Jehan Ashmore.

According to Dublin Port Company CEO Eamon O'Reilly, who was speaking at the recent Dublin Bay Conference which was held in the Gibson Hotel overlooking the site of the proposed €30m cruise terminal, the MSC Splendida is to call on 11 May, the same day original scheduled for her anchorage call off Dun Laoghaire.

It is not known why the huge 18-deck 'Fantasia' class 333m long cruiseship has swapped ports, though there are many variables in the shipping industry over the re-scheduling of vessels.

Having said that MSC Splendida is to call offshore of Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the 21st May of the following week. When she does the 3,900 passenger accommodation vessel makes her the largest in capacity terms of this seasons record breaking 22 cruiseships calling within the harbour and anchoring offshore.

Added to the MSC Splendida's tourists will be a crew of around 1,370 which is close to that of the 1,500 passenger former Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead fast-ferry HSS Stena Explorer.

This leaves another massive cruiseship, Royal Princess of 142,714 tonnes (see, Belfast's biggest caller 2014) to become the first caller this season for the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company when she takes anchorage in south Dublin Bay on 12th May. The 330m cruiseship has a 3,560 passenger capacity. 

Another yet repeat caller is Cunard's Line's flagship cruise 'liner' Queen Mary 2 (QM2) which at 151,000 tonnes and 2,600 passengers is due to call offshore on 20th May, the day before MSC Spendida's inaugural call. 

The QM2 is 61.9m high while the MSC Splendida is even higher towering at almost 70m. Such-sized ships and larger could enter Dun Laoghaire Harbour as proposed by the €18m single cruise-berth in which the DLHC are understood to lodge this month a planning application accompanied by an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to An Bord Pleanala.

MSC Splendida is operated by MSC Cruises, the passenger arm of the Mediterranean Shipping Company that run container services to Dublin Port. When she calls, the massive cruiseship is to enter the port entrance astern, this is due to current restrictions of the port layout and the relationship to her sheer size and water depth notably when berthing in the confines of Alexandra Basin. This area of the port forms part of the port's 'Masterplan 2040' as the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR) reconfiguration project is to cost €200m.

The arrival of MSC Splendida will be a clear demonstration as to why the Dublin Port Company propose the €30m cruise terminal facility. The double cruise-berth facility is to accommodate such ships and those of the next generation mega cruiseships. A decision from An Bord Pleanala over the proposed cruise terminal and associated EIS is already currently underway. 

Aside all the focus on cruiseships due to the controversary of potentially having two new cruise terminals in Dublin Bay totalling almost €50m, one could easily forget the real driver of the economy is that of cargoships exporting our trade.

As such increasing larger deeper drafted cargoships also need to enter Alexandra Basin and elsewhere in the port. This is where the rest of the masterplan is to meet the rising demands of the shipping industry coupled with economies of scale and capacity demands as record trade figures are broken and are forecast.

#SOSDunLaoghaire - The Save Our Seafront (SOS) group says large cruise-berth 'inappropriate for our Victorian harbour' writes yesterday's Irish Times.

Approximately 150 attended a public meeting in Dún Laoghaire organised to mount a "major campaign" against a proposed cruise berth in the harbour.

Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is to seek planning permission to replace the former Stena Line (HSS) berth as previously reported on with a facility to accommodate large cruise ships.

The meeting, which was organised by Save Our Seafront, a lobby group chaired by local People Before Profit TD Richard Boyd-Barrett, heard the group was appealing to Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohoe to intervene and direct the €18 million project be "shelved".

The meeting also discussed making submissions to the county development plan calling for the harbour to be protected from private residential development and large retail use.
The plan for the cruise berth involves demolishing the purpose-built Stena Line HSS ramps and moorings, and building a 390m cruise berth that could accommodate very large ships. The process would also involve significant dredging of the harbour.


A spokeswoman for the harbour company said the proposal is expected to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála under strategic infrastructure legislation by the middle of this month. It had been expected the submission would be made in April, but submissions from public consultation "are still being considered".

The spokeswoman said there was a "substantial enough response" to the consultation process, including "some very detailed submissions".

In a letter to Mr Donohoe the group states: "In our opinion this kind of berth is inappropriate for our Victorian harbour, and threatens public access and marine leisure activities in the harbour.

"More importantly, we are extremely upset at the lack of any comprehensive public consultation on the issue. The harbour company ran a badly advertised non-statutory public consultation process over the two weeks of the Easter holidays. Most of the residents of Dún Laoghaire only became aware of this as it ended."

For more on the proposed cruise-berth,click HERE.

#CobhUpgrade – Cobh Cruise Terminal which is undergoing phase one of a €1.5m upgrade as previously reported on is to be completed in advance of the first cruise caller for this season, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The dedicated cruise-berth facility in lower Cork Harbour is to receive Princess Cruises new Regal Princess of 141,000 tonnes next Saturday.

Cobh in the future expects to handle even larger cruiseships with the mega Royal Carribean Lines 'Quantum' class but not until at least 2017.

Regal Princess is the newest of a trio built for Carnival Corporation, with Royal Princess already in service since 2013 and also making her debut only last month was Britannia.

The Italian built Regal Princess is to berth alongside the deepwater quay and she is one out of a 55 cruise liners scheduled to call to Cork in 2015.

Of that total, 10 are maiden calls and 20 of which will be carrying in excess of 3,000 passengers.

In 2014, the number of calls was just down by two to 53 cruiseships bringing more than 83,000 passengers and 35,000 crew.

Currently, RCI's Independence of the Seas is the largest cruiseship ever accommodated in terms of tonnage (154,000) and passengers (4,300) which made a debut call to Cobh in 2007.

The cruise-liner Queen Mary 2 of 148,000 tonnes is the longest cruise liner that Cobh has handled. This year the Port of Cork are scheduled to expect over 20 cruiseships greater than 320 metres in length.

Phase two of the Cobh quay upgrade is due to be completed at the end of the 2015 cruise season.

The upgrade will see the installation of a number of high-load mooring bollards at the east and west end of the Cobh Cruise Berth.

This will enable Cobh as alluded above to ultimately accommodate RCI's mega 'Quantum' class, the largest cruiseships operating in Europe. 

The second in the class the 168,000 tonnes Anthem of the Seas was named in a ceremony yesterday in Southampton. She can handle almost 5,000 passengers and is 347 metres long. 



Published in Cruise Liners
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