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#LargestUKliner - In a major coup for Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, the largest ever cruiseship built exclusively for the UK market, P&O Cruises 143,000 tonnes newbuild Britannia, is to visit in her first season in 2015, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Britannia is due for delivery in Spring and is to make her first call to Dun Laoghaire in mid-July.

The giant five-star luxury cruiseship with a 3,600 passenger capacity and more than 1,700 crew, is one of a record 22 cruise callers to visit Dun Laoghaire.

The significant increase in cruise calls is clear, as only four calls are scheduled this year, the most recent been the distinctive five-mast cruiseship-yacht Wind Surf which called at the weekend.

The port's developing cruise industry business, expects to deliver 100,000 cruiseship visitors and crew generating a boost to the local economy and hinterland in 2015.

To secure the ports long-term viability over the next 10-15 years, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company's Masterplan adopted in 2011 includes several large scale projects, among them plans for a dedicated new cruise-berth costing €15m.

Such a facility would be capable of berthing the 'next generation' of very large cruiseships within the harbour.

In the meantime the majority of larger ships have to anchor offshore and bring passengers ashore by tenders. This is time-consuming process for cruise operators and subjected to weather conditions.

The cruise industry is a key area of development of the 'regional' port which in recent years has seen a decline in Stena Line's HSS fast-ferry services to Holyhead. This season is the fourth consecutive year of the summer-only operated route.