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Dublin Bay Boating News and Information

Displaying items by tag: Belfast Harbour

The 1,000th cruise ship call to Belfast Harbour took place yesterday according to Cruise Belfast, which works in partnership between the port and Visit Belfast.

Cunard Line's MS Queen Elizabeth arrived in Belfast marking a significant milestone for tourism in Northern Ireland, as well as the region’s gradual economic recovery from the pandemic.

Cruise tourism to the city restarted in June this year, with domestic, UK-only cruise itineraries and, to date, the arrival of MS Queen Elizabeth is the 66th cruise call to Belfast this year. The 'Vista' class ship is Cunard's newest luxury ocean liner, which first visited Belfast in 2016 and this will be on a  sixth call to Belfast Harbour.

The celebrated arrival of the ‘Berlin’, the first cruise ship to arrive into Belfast in 1996, marked the start of what has been a huge success story for tourism in Northern Ireland, with cruise calls growing year on year, welcoming an incredible 1.7m visitors in the 25 year period.

2019 was a record year for cruise calls, with 146 vessels bringing 285,000 visitors to Northern Ireland, before cruise operations temporarily ceased due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Belfast was named by Cruise Critic as the ‘Best Port of Call’ in the UK and Ireland in 2019 for cruise ships following an investment by the Port to create new quayside facilities and funding from Tourism Northern Ireland for a dedicated cruise Visitor Information Point.

Managed and staffed by Visit Belfast, the terminal uses the latest digital and audio-visual technology to help travel advisors showcase the range of visitor attractions on offer across Belfast and Northern Ireland.

Published in Cruise Liners

Following an easing back to full cruise operations at the UK's main cruise port of Southampton which had its busiest month of the year to date with two consecutive five-cruise ship weekends during August.

On Saturday 7 August and Saturday 14 August, each one of the port’s world-class cruise terminals was occupied as the cruise industry makes its phased return. This is welcome news for holidaymakers as well as for the thousands of local residents who rely on the cruise industry for their livelihood.

During the first five ships day, Ocean Cruise Terminal hosted P&O Cruises’ Iona. The new cruiseship later departed the ship's home port (see May's naming ceremony) for a maiden passenger cruise.

Marella Explorer departed from Queen Elizabeth II Terminal in the Eastern Docks, MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa (Belfast's first bigship caller), fitted with Shore Power connectivity, was at the port’s newest terminal, Horizon Cruise Terminal.

Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s second largest ship in its Quantum-class, was at City Cruise Terminal, and Regasothl Princess, Princess Cruises’ Royal-class ship, departed from the Western Docks Mayflower Terminal (adjacent to the Southampton International Boat Show, see story).

On the second weekend, Royal Caribbean’s Celebrity Silhouette was at City Cruise Terminal in place of Anthem of the Seas, with all other ships above returning to their respective terminals for further passenger operations. (These ships Afloat adds also visited Belfast Harbour this season).

Rebekah Keeler, Head of Cruise at ABP, said: “We’re excited to be getting closer to seeing what a ‘normal’ cruise weekend for the port in peak season would be. It’s taken a huge collaborative effort by the industry to bring cruise back safely and it fills us all with pride to see passengers once again beginning their holidays here at the Port of Southampton.”

Before the industry pause, the Port of Southampton would typically welcome two million passengers every year, with each cruise call bringing in over £2.7million into the local economy. The coming months are expected to be busy, with all terminals occupied at weekends and lots of activity on weekdays too.

With the new next-generation-ready Horizon Cruise Terminal now welcoming passengers, and its shore power due for commissioning this year, the strengthening of cruise infrastructure places the Port of Southampton firmly at the forefront of the future of cruise.

Published in Cruise Liners

Major cruises from British ports will resume this week with a maiden voyage of a vessel around the coast of the UK.

MSC Cruises second ship of the Meraviglia-Plus class, Afloat adds is MSC Virtuosa, which according to the Belfast Telegraph, will leave Southampton (see ship's earlier entry cruise) on Thursday for a four-night cruise. This is to be followed by three and four-night mini-cruises.

From June 12, the 19-deck ship will start to operate longer seven-night sailings through to mid-September. This will offer guests additional embarkation ports in Liverpool and Greenock as well as calls at Portland in Dorset and Belfast (from where Afloat adds arrived this morning from Liverpool).

For comments on the visit by MSC Cruises UK & Ireland's managing director, click the newspaper's link here. 

Today's call of the MSC Virtuosa to Belfast Harbour, Afloat adds, follows the first and only cruisecaller last year to Northern Ireland before Covid-19 struck.

On that occasion, Hurtigruten's newbuild hybrid-powered expedition cruiseship MS Fridtjof Nansen made a maiden debut to the city.

Published in Cruise Liners

Belfast Harbour has pledged support to Lagan Search & Rescue to the tune of £100,000 (€110,000) over the next five years, as the News Letter reports.

The arrangement includes continued provision of an operations base and lifeboat berths for the agency’s search and rescue services to the River Lagan and Belfast Lough.

A recent boost to the volunteer-run service was the addition of a new eight-metre lifeboat, funded in part by Belfast Harbour and the Northern Ireland Department for Transport’s Inshore/Inland Rescue Boat Grant Fund.

The News Letter has more on the story HERE.

Published in Belfast Lough

A sound financial performance is how Belfast Harbour has reported figures for 2019 and this in line with expectations of providing a strong platform from which to respond to challenges posed by the impact of Covid-19 on the local and global economy.

Releasing its annual results last month, Belfast Harbour reported turnover of £65.9m in the year to the end of 2019 (down 4%) and generated operating profits of £30.6m (down 15% from the record results of 2018). The decline in earnings largely reflected the completion of a major offshore windfarm contract mid-2018 and the ongoing decline in power station coal throughput.

Trade remained strong during the year, with more than 24 million tonnes of cargo passing through the port. Ferry passenger numbers exceeded 1.5m for the third year in a row, there were a record number of freight vehicles - up 4% to 542,000 – and cruise ship activity also continued to grow, with 280,000 cruise visitors during the year.

During 2019, £44m was invested in a range of port and estate projects, with £40m invested to automate container handling and upgrade the Belfast -Liverpool ferry terminal, in readiness for the introduction of larger new Stena Line vessels.  Construction also commenced on City Quays 3, which will be Northern Ireland’s largest ever Grade ‘A’ office building.  The last remaining office space in the City Quays 2 building was occupied during the year.

In 2019 Belfast Harbour committed £115.7m in further investment in strategically significant projects to help deliver its vision of becoming the best regional port and an iconic waterfront for Belfast. These investments will be a critical enabler of NI’s Covid-19 recovery, given the Port’s recognised role as a key driver of the regional economy.

In the past 10 years Belfast Harbour has invested over £290m in port infrastructure and estate regeneration, which as a Trust Port it entirely self-funded - with all profits reinvested back into developing the Port for the benefit of customers and the wider economy. 

Published in Belfast Lough

Cruise fall-out as Belfast Harbour is anticipating that Covid-19 could hit revenues by as much as 20% this year, largely due to the collapse of its cruise, tourist and leisure business.

Port bosses said they do not expect any of the scheduled cruises to arrive in Belfast this year, with plans for a new cruise terminal now on hold.

Just one ship docked (as Afloat reported) in the city in 2020 prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 130 were originally booked, expected to bring around 230,000 tourists to Belfast.

Chief executive Joe O’Neill said it could be 2022-23 before the cruise business recovers.

Belfast Harbour confirmed that its revenues and profits were already down in 2019, prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.

More from The Irish News here.

Published in Belfast Lough

A new TV series beginning tomorrow night (Tuesday 14 April) on BBC One Northern Ireland puts Belfast Harbour in the starring role.

Today’s Belfast Telegraph features the three-part documentary, Belfast Harbour: Cruises, Cranes and Cargo, which was filmed in the busy port last autumn.

And it captures the highs and lows of a time that saw both the arrival of the city’s biggest ever cruise liner visitor, and a closure threat to the iconic Harland & Wolff shipyard.

Future episodes will explore the work of the harbour’s control room managers and shipping agents who oversee the movement of a dizzying array of goods in and out of the port.

That’s not to mention the skilled harbour pilots and crane operators who help to ensure its safe workings day in and day out.

The first episode of Belfast Harbour: Cruises, Cranes and Cargo screens Tuesday 14 April at 10.45pm on BBC One NI. The Belfast Telegraph has more on the story HERE.

Published in Maritime TV
Tagged under

Ferry operator Stena is reducing its Belfast Harbour services as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

The firm, which normally operates seven ships on 138 sailings a week from Belfast, has temporarily berthed one ship (Afloat tracked to ro-ro freighter Stena Forecaster) and cut sailings to 108 a week.

Earlier this week, the firm said it would furlough staff and make redundancies across its UK and Ireland operations.

Stena sails from Belfast to Heysham, Liverpool and Cairnryan.

It is understood freight volumes have fallen since the crisis began but that non-freight traffic has collapsed.

More on this BBC News story here including what is happening to the ferry sector serving the Republic when yesterday Afloat reported the Irish government approved an “emergency provision” of a maximum of up to €15m (£13.2m).

This is the cost of maintaining five passenger ferry services in response to Covid-19.

Published in Ferry

A cruise liner bound for Belfast in May has had its itinerary changed to avoid two upcoming port calls in Italy, following that country’s extraordinary national lockdown measures to control the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, the MSC Splendida was due to dock at Civitavecchia on Saturday 28 March and the following day at Genoa.

However, with quarantine extended to the whole of Italy by its government this past Monday (9 March), MSC Cruises has rerouted the ship to instead dock in Marseille in 28 March and Barcelona on 29 March.

The MSC Splendida is expected to arrive in Belfast Lough on Friday 1 May via Hamburg.

The Belfast Telegraph also reports that a major cruise operator hit hard by Covid-19 outbreaks, and which was due to bring 5,000 people to Belfast on Friday 8 May, has suspended operations for the next eight weeks.

Princess Cruises, whose Diamond Princess in Japan and Grand Princess in California were subjected to quarantine, also operates the Regal Princess — which is at present approaching Cozumel in Mexico to end its current voyage.

Belfast Harbour has submitted a planning application for the development of six new purpose-built film and television studios at its existing Giant’s Park site.

The harbour company says the plans represent an investment of £45m and will generate 250 construction jobs and around 1,000 creative industry jobs.

The proposed development would quadruple the size of the Belfast Harbour Studios complex and make Belfast a leading centre in the industry, the company says.

Phase one of the Belfast Harbour Studios development opened three years ago at Giant’s Park on Belfast Lough with two 32,000 sq ft studios and 125,000 sq ft of overall production space.

These have been used for a number of major productions including SyFy’s Krypton TV series and are currently occupied by a major film production company.

Belfast Harbour now intends to develop four additional 21,000 sq ft studios and two 16,000 sq ft studios, as well as up to 100,000 sq ft of production offices and 130,000 sq ft of support workshops on an adjoining 20-acre site.

In total, the project represents more than 346,000 sq ft of additional production facilities which, when combined with phase one, will create the largest studio complex outside of the South East of England.

Located on Belfast’s Giant’s Park on the North Foreshore, the expanded facility will also provide flexible backlot areas and dedicated support space for specialised creative suppliers to the industry, and aligns with Belfast Harbour’s ambitions to create a leading European media hub.

Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s CEO, said: “In recent years Belfast has established itself as one of the UK’s top media production hubs. In 2017 we invested £20m to provide brand-new studio facilities but with record levels of demand for studio space globally, we are confident the time is right to progress with phase two of the development.

“The location is highly accessible, is serviced by ultra-high-speed internet connections and benefits from a skilled local workforce that has proven its ability to help deliver some of the world’s best film and television content.

“This new studio complex will build on Northern Ireland’s already impressive international reputation and generate around 1,000 creative industry jobs across a wide variety of disciplines.”

Upon receipt of planning, Belfast Harbour would start construction on phase two later this year with completion of the new studios scheduled for 2021.

Richard Williams, CEO of Northern Ireland Screen, said the expansion would provide a significant further boost for the local industry at a time when studio space is at a premium across the UK.

“With Disney and Apple joining Netflix and Amazon in investing in the launch of their own on-demand streaming services, there is no end in sight to the demand for high-end, high-cost content. That has led to unprecedented demand for studio space globally, so Belfast Harbour’s announcement comes at a perfect time for our local industry,” he said.

“Belfast Harbour’s support for the screen industries in Northern Ireland is exemplary, and their vision for phase two of Belfast Harbour Studios is inspired. It is a development that will help Northern Ireland to become the largest screen sector in the UK and Ireland outside of the southeast of England.”

Spending on film and high-end television in the UK from major international productions topped £3.04bn in 2019, according to figures released by British Film Institute’s research and statistics unit.

Published in Belfast Lough
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Dublin Bay

Dublin Bay on the east coast of Ireland stretches over seven kilometres, from Howth Head on its northern tip to Dalkey Island in the south. It's a place most Dubliners simply take for granted, and one of the capital's least visited places. But there's more going on out there than you'd imagine.

The biggest boating centre is at Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the Bay's south shore that is home to over 1,500 pleasure craft, four waterfront yacht clubs and Ireland's largest marina.

The bay is rather shallow with many sandbanks and rocky outcrops, and was notorious in the past for shipwrecks, especially when the wind was from the east. Until modern times, many ships and their passengers were lost along the treacherous coastline from Howth to Dun Laoghaire, less than a kilometre from shore.

The Bay is a C-shaped inlet of the Irish Sea and is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and 7 km in length to its apex at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south. North Bull Island is situated in the northwest part of the bay, where one of two major inshore sandbanks lie, and features a 5 km long sandy beach, Dollymount Strand, fronting an internationally recognised wildfowl reserve. Many of the rivers of Dublin reach the Irish Sea at Dublin Bay: the River Liffey, with the River Dodder flow received less than 1 km inland, River Tolka, and various smaller rivers and streams.

Dublin Bay FAQs

There are approximately ten beaches and bathing spots around Dublin Bay: Dollymount Strand; Forty Foot Bathing Place; Half Moon bathing spot; Merrion Strand; Bull Wall; Sandycove Beach; Sandymount Strand; Seapoint; Shelley Banks; Sutton, Burrow Beach

There are slipways on the north side of Dublin Bay at Clontarf, Sutton and on the southside at Dun Laoghaire Harbour, and in Dalkey at Coliemore and Bulloch Harbours.

Dublin Bay is administered by a number of Government Departments, three local authorities and several statutory agencies. Dublin Port Company is in charge of navigation on the Bay.

Dublin Bay is approximately 70 sq kilometres or 7,000 hectares. The Bay is about 10 kilometres wide along its north-south base, and seven km in length east-west to its peak at the centre of the city of Dublin; stretching from Howth Head in the north to Dalkey Point in the south.

Dun Laoghaire Harbour on the southside of the Bay has an East and West Pier, each one kilometre long; this is one of the largest human-made harbours in the world. There also piers or walls at the entrance to the River Liffey at Dublin city known as the Great North and South Walls. Other harbours on the Bay include Bulloch Harbour and Coliemore Harbours both at Dalkey.

There are two marinas on Dublin Bay. Ireland's largest marina with over 800 berths is on the southern shore at Dun Laoghaire Harbour. The other is at Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club on the River Liffey close to Dublin City.

Car and passenger Ferries operate from Dublin Port to the UK, Isle of Man and France. A passenger ferry operates from Dun Laoghaire Harbour to Howth as well as providing tourist voyages around the bay.

Dublin Bay has two Islands. Bull Island at Clontarf and Dalkey Island on the southern shore of the Bay.

The River Liffey flows through Dublin city and into the Bay. Its tributaries include the River Dodder, the River Poddle and the River Camac.

Dollymount, Burrow and Seapoint beaches

Approximately 1,500 boats from small dinghies to motorboats to ocean-going yachts. The vast majority, over 1,000, are moored at Dun Laoghaire Harbour which is Ireland's boating capital.

In 1981, UNESCO recognised the importance of Dublin Bay by designating North Bull Island as a Biosphere because of its rare and internationally important habitats and species of wildlife. To support sustainable development, UNESCO’s concept of a Biosphere has evolved to include not just areas of ecological value but also the areas around them and the communities that live and work within these areas. There have since been additional international and national designations, covering much of Dublin Bay, to ensure the protection of its water quality and biodiversity. To fulfil these broader management aims for the ecosystem, the Biosphere was expanded in 2015. The Biosphere now covers Dublin Bay, reflecting its significant environmental, economic, cultural and tourism importance, and extends to over 300km² to include the bay, the shore and nearby residential areas.

On the Southside at Dun Laoghaire, there is the National Yacht Club, Royal St. George Yacht Club, Royal Irish Yacht Club and Dun Laoghaire Motor Yacht Club as well as Dublin Bay Sailing Club. In the city centre, there is Poolbeg Yacht and Boat Club. On the Northside of Dublin, there is Clontarf Yacht and Boat Club and Sutton Dinghy Club. While not on Dublin Bay, Howth Yacht Club is the major north Dublin Sailing centre.

© Afloat 2020

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