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Dublin Port Outlines Plans for First Dedicated Cruise Terminal

3rd November 2011
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Dublin Port Outlines Plans for First Dedicated Cruise Terminal
# CRUISE SHIPS - Dublin Port's 'draft' masterplan which was unveiled to the public today, includes a proposal to develop the first dedicated cruise terminal in the capital port. A site at North Wall Quay Extension has been chosen to handle larger vessels capable of berthing and the location would be closer to the city-centre, writes Jehan Ashmore.
With the increasing demand of the cruiseship sector to Dublin and Irish ports in general, the port recognises the need to further develop future growth prospects and the wider strategic importance to the city. This year the port handled over 85 cruise callers with 130,000 passengers visiting the capital which accrued to €50m to the local economy and €700,000 in direct revenue to the port.

In order to facilitate this growth, the draft proposes switching existing berths used by large cruiseships away from unattractive cargo-docks in Alexandra Basin's West and East and at Ocean Pier. Up to three alternative locations were examined and the port agreed that the option identified in the Dublin City Council's Area Plan of the North Quay Extension is the optimum location.

Before any such development, it would require relocating an existing roll-on roll-off terminal (No.3), which is currently in use by P&O Irish Sea for their Dublin-Liverpool service. The company operate three sailings daily on the central corridor route.

The new facility could accommodate two large cruise ships simultaneously and would be much larger than the 43,524grt The World, the luxury resort vessel operated by Residensea, which docked at the North Wall Extension in 2010 (for report click HERE).

The location is on the doorstep to the East-Link Bridge and the neighbouring O2 Arena and Point Village developed by Harry Crosbie, who called for the relocation of cruise callers to be sited upriver.

According to the draft, the closer proximity to the city-centre would provide a stronger presence and a more accessible link with the city. It would also avoid the unnecessary longer bus transfers between cruise berths and visitor attractions in the city-centre and locations in counties Wicklow and Meath.

Construction of facilities for a cruise terminal would expensive as it will involve new quay walls capable of accepting large cruise vessels but this could only be done after dredging the channel to a depth of 10.5m.

The facilities of the terminal are to incorporate a reception, tourist information and interpretive centre, a dedicated entrance for pedestrians, coaches, vehicles and traffic management measures would be implemented.

In addition the site would also require the expensive exercise in re-locating ESB underwater high-voltage cables. The initial costs suggest to develop new terminal facilities and associated works would be in the region of €30m.

Dublin Port Company, state that due to the relatively low revenues generated by cruise ships, such an investment alone could not be justified, however, they could part-fund the development but additional funding would be required from other sources.

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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