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On Thursday 15th July, Cobh and Harbour Chamber and the Port of Cork will jointly host an online cruise tourism workshop. The workshop is aimed at local tourist attractions and providers and is a great opportunity to hear about the global cruise industry as destinations and Ports emerge from the pandemic, and the planned return of cruises to Cork in 2022.

The workshop will host several key speakers including Conor Mowlds, Chief Commercial Officer Port of Cork, Niamh McCarthy MD of Excursions Ireland, Captain Michael McCarthy Chair of Cruise Europe, Jackie Coakley Cobh Tourism and Seamus Heaney Pure Cork/Visit Cork.

A Cruiser liner passes Crosshaven while exiting Cork HarbourA Cruiser liner passes Crosshaven while exiting Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

This workshop is a must for anyone in the tourism business that wants to get a synopsis of the cruise industry and how it will operate once it returns in 2022. It is also an opportunity for local businesses to explore ways of developing new shore excursions that can be sold to potential cruise passengers coming to Cobh and Cork.

President of Cobh & Harbour Chamber, Johanna Murphy said: ‘This cruise tourism workshop is such an exciting opportunity for local businesses and tourism attractions to hear first-hand from industry experts on the how we can all play our part in the resumption of cruise. Since the pandemic, Cobh has not had any visiting cruise ships and we are very eager to encourage their return as their economic contribution is valuable to the town of Cobh.’

The 75,000 tonne Norwegian Spirit is a Leo-class cruise ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)The 75,000 tonne Norwegian Spirit is a Leo-class cruise ship operated by Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) Photo: Bob Bateman

While cruise bookings are strong for 2022, the Port of Cork is cautiously optimistic that a resumption can happen once all necessary return protocols are in place.

Conor Mowlds, Chief Commercial Officer said: ‘Cruise tourism took a massive hit during the pandemic both locally and globally. We are nonetheless optimistic that cruise will return to Cork in 2022. We must now focus on developing a return to cruise protocol that will satisfy the Dept of Transport, Port Health, Cruise Lines, Shore Excursion providers local business and communities. This really is a combined effort from all parties to ensure the safe return and this cruise workshop is the first step in working together.’

The Royal Princess alongside in Cobh in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob BatemanThe Royal Princess alongside in Cobh in Cork Harbour Photo: Bob Bateman

Cruise Liners in Cork Harbour Photo Gallery by Bob Bateman

Published in Cruise Liners

Plans by Dublin Port Company is to develop the port stretches until 2040, reports Dublin Inquirer.

Right now, officials are pondering one piece of that plan.

They’re trying to decide whether to build specific berths for large cruise ships as part of the redevelopment of Alexandra Basin – and they want the public (see consultation), and interested stakeholders, to weigh in.

Currently, cruise ships berth at Alexandra Basin but with big works to kick off there in 2021, coupled with a growth in cargo, existing space is tight for the massive liners.

“We’re going to lose 400 metres of quay. A lot of bulk cargo goes there and we had to juggle things around,” says a spokesperson for Dublin Port.

One proposal is to build new specific berths, wide enough to be used by even the largest cruise ships. But whether they’re needed, or who would pay for them, are questions that Dublin Port officials are currently musing.

For much more and related issues click here.  

Published in Dublin Port

The latest cruise ship from Saga Cruises, the highly anticipated 'Spirit of Discovery' has docked in Cobh on her make her maiden call to a wet Cork Harbour today.

As Afloat's Jehan Ashmore wrote yesterday, this brand new, luxury boutique British liner carries 999 passengers on board and was recently named by the Duchess of Cornwall, at an official naming ceremony in Dover.

Also as Afloat reported earlier, the Cork Harbour destination for the Spirit of Discovery was this week voted one of the world's top stopovers. 

Saga Cruises have a rich history calling to the Port of Cork and have included Cobh on their British Isles cruise itinerary for many years now, as well as Belfast and Dublin. To mark the maiden calls to Dublin, Belfast and Cork, the ports and Excursions Ireland jointly commissioned a special shamrock magnet for every passenger on the inaugural cruise.

See photo gallery below 

Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1Spirit of Discovery Cobh1

Published in Cork Harbour

Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has said that “significant commercial, technical and environmental risk” had influenced its decision to withdraw a planning application for a 30 million euro cruise liner berth in Dun Laoghaire on Dublin Bay writes Lorna Siggins

In a statement to Afloat, the local authority said that the cruise berth planning application, originally made by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, was withdrawn by the council on May 14th.

“A report to council in May 2019 advised of the significant commercial, technical and environmental risk associated with this project,” a spokesman for the council said.

"Tourism interests predict Dún Laoghaire will still be a popular cruise ship destination"

Tourism interests have predicted that Dún Laoghaire will still be a popular cruise ship destination, in spite of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county council’s decision.

An Bord Pleanála has confirmed that the application for an eight-year permit to construct a cruise berth facility in Dun Laoghaire was withdrawn last week.

Independent senator Victor Boyhan has welcomed the move by the local authority but has said that “questions need to be answered” on the entire cost of the plan.

An Bord Pleanála had granted permission in November 2016 for the controversial cruise ship berth but had restricted the size of vessel which it could facilitate to 250 metres.

The original planning application by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company aimed to accommodate cruise ships of up to 340 metres long, at a berth extending 435 metres.

The company had aimed to plan for the harbour’s future in the wake of Stena Line’s decision in 2015 to stop its ferry service between Dun Laoghaire and Holyhead. This broke the 170-year old ferry link between Dun Laoghaire and Wales – a service Stena had run from 1995.

The ruling was challenged by the Save our Seafront campaign group in a High Court judicial review, and the application was referred back to the planning appeals board.

In July 2017, An Bord Pleanála relisted the application to allow” issues raised at the judicial review” to be considered, according to a spokesman.

This elicited a strong reaction from the Combined Yacht Clubs grouping in Dun Laoghaire, which described as “shattering” the re-opening of the application.

The harbour has since been taken over by the local authority, and several months ago councillors were informed that it had no funds for a proposed €5 million urban beach, a €51 million diaspora centre and a €30 million cruise berth facility.

A progress report to councillors indicated that about €1 million had been spent on the cruise berth plan, of which €250,000 was provided by the council.

Senator Boyhan said the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown county council decision to withdraw the planning application “makes absolute sense”, given that the appeals board had received over 150 objections to the project.

“It was a crazy idea that should never have got so far, yet initially council planners were very supportive of the idea,” Mr Boyhan said.

“If it went ahead, it would have destroyed the heritage harbour and its environs,” he said, adding that “people must be held to account” for large costs incurred.

Excursions Ireland, which handles cruise ship visits to Irish ports, said Dun Laoghaire would still be a “great destination for cruise vessels”, although larger craft have to anchor off the harbour.

“We’d love it to be developed, particularly now that Dublin Port has announced it will have to restrict the number of cruise ships it can take from 2021 onwards due to capacity constraints,” Excursions Ireland managing director Niamh McCarthy said.

“However, some operators actually prefer Dun Laoghaire, and it is a great destination for the more independent guests,” she said.

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Tourism interests have said Dún Laoghaire will still be a cruise ship destination, in spite of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council’s decision to withdraw controversial plans for a 30 million euro cruise berth in the south Dublin harbour writes Lorna Siggins

An Bord Pleanála has confirmed that the application for an eight-year permit to construct a cruise berth facility in Dun Laoghaire was withdrawn last week.

Independent senator Victor Boyhan has welcomed the move by the local authority but has said that “questions need to be answered” on the entire cost of the plan.

"The application for an eight-year permit to construct a cruise berth facility in Dun Laoghaire was withdrawn last week"

An Bord Pleanála had granted permission in November 2016 for the controversial cruise ship berth but had restricted the size of vessel which it could facilitate to 250 metres.

The original planning application by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company aimed to accommodate cruise ships of up to 340 metres long, at a berth extending 435 metres.

The ruling was challenged by the Save our Seafront campaign group in a High Court judicial review, and the application was referred back to the planning appeals board.

In July 2017, An Bord Pleanála relisted the application to allow” issues raised at the judicial review” to be considered, according to a spokesman.

This elicited a strong reaction from the Combined Yacht Clubs grouping in Dun Laoghaire, which described as “shattering” the re-opening of the application.

The harbour has since been taken over by the local authority, and several months ago councillors were informed that it had no funds for a proposed €5 million urban beach, a €51 million diaspora centre and a €30 million cruise berth facility.

A progress report to councillors indicated that about €1 million had been spent on the cruise berth plan, of which €250,000 was provided by the council.

Senator Boyhan said the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown county council decision to withdraw the planning application “makes absolute sense”, given that the appeals board had received over 150 objections to the project.

“It was a crazy idea that should never have got so far, yet initially council planners were very supportive of the idea,” Mr Boyhan said.

“If it went ahead, it would have destroyed the heritage harbour and its environs,” he said, adding that “people must be held to account” for large costs incurred.

Excursions Ireland, which handles cruise ship visits to Irish ports, said Dun Laoghaire would still be a “great destination for cruise vessels”, although larger craft has to anchor off the harbour.

“We’d love it to be developed, particularly now that Dublin Port has announced it will have to restrict the number of cruise ships it can take from 2021 onwards due to capacity constraints,” Excursions Ireland managing director Niamh McCarthy said.

“However, some operators actually prefer Dun Laoghaire, and it is a great destination for the more independent guests,” she said.

Chairman of Irish Cruise Liner body Cruise Ireland, Mr Conor Mowlds said; “Cruise Ireland welcomed the positive meeting held with Shane Ross TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Brendan Griffin TD, Minister of State with responsibility for Tourism and Sport, government agencies and other commercial bodies involved in supporting Ireland’s Cruise Industry.

The meeting was called by Ministers Ross to discuss Dublin Port’s temporary move to reduce cruise vessel calls to the capital while it develops additional essential port infrastructure during the interim period of 2021-2024.

The meeting provided an opportunity for the relevant bodies to consider the options available to Ireland that would help to reduce the impact on the Irish Cruise Industry following Dublin Port’s strategic decision.

With this meeting and the recent attendance at the Global Cruise Seatrade Exhibition in Miami, Cruise Ireland is confident that positive measures are being taken to mitigate the temporary impact on the industry, and we are committed to supporting the future marketing and promotion of Ireland as a premier cruise destination.”

Published in Cruise Liners
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Plans have been approved for an iconic building on the banks of the Clyde at Greenock in the North Channel of the Irish Sea to welcome cruise ship passengers.

The plans, approved this month by Inverclyde planning board, are for a new visitor centre, restaurant and gallery at Greenock Ocean Terminal.

The overall project, led by Inverclyde Council, is part of the Glasgow City Region City Deal and aims to provide a new berthing facility and visitor centre to boost cruise ship passengers welcomed to Scotland through the Greenock facility operated by Peel Ports.

Now a key milestone, planning permission, has been granted.

In addition to the state of the art visitor centre welcoming cruise ship passengers from across the world, the plans also include a purpose-built gallery celebrating the work of Inverclyde resident and artist George Wyllie (1921-2012) and a new restaurant with panoramic views across the Clyde.

As part of the outline business case published by Inverclyde Council, it is estimated that over 150,000 passengers could pass through Greenock Ocean Terminal delivering £26m in annual visitor and crew spend to the Scottish economy.

Inverclyde Council Leader Councillor Stephen McCabe said: “Planning application approval is an important milestone in the delivery of this project as part of the Glasgow City Region City Deal. The aim of the project is to boost the capacity at Greenock Ocean Terminal for cruise ships. The addition of a restaurant and Wyllie Gallery will help to provide a year-round attraction for visitors to Greenock and Inverclyde at this iconic building on the banks of Clyde.

“As a key City Deal project, the new visitor centre at Greenock Ocean Terminal aims to make a significant contribution to economic growth and international tourism across the wider city region area.”

Councillor David Wilson, Inverclyde planning board convener, welcomed the approval of the planning application. He said: “This is a welcome application and one the board where wholehearted in their approval. Inverclyde has a great deal to offer the visitor whether coming to Scotland by cruise ship from all over the world or visiting from other parts of the United Kingdom. The new visitor centre, gallery and restaurant will enhance the offer to domestic and overseas visitors. The economic value of the cruise ship sector to Scotland is a key part of this project and its value to the country, particularly with the potential to substantially grow in future years, should not be underestimated.”

The proposal for a new Wyllie Gallery showcasing the life and work of the artist will also stage important exhibitions and events celebrating contemporary artists from across Scotland and further afield.

When the planning application was submitted, artist George Wyllie’s elder daughter, Louise Wyllie, said: “Inverclyde Council’s vision in realising this complex project is to be applauded.

“It has always been an ambition of The George Wyllie Foundation to celebrate and mark my father’s life and work in Inverclyde; an area which he loved and which was the lifeblood of all his art works.

“This exciting development at Ocean Terminal in Greenock marks a sea-change in the Foundation’s on-going voyage to mark his legacy as a ground-breaking artist and to make more people aware of his life’s work.

“Although making and creating art – be it music, plays or sculpture – was always a big part of his life, my father worked as a Customs and Excise officer for many years in this very spot. I know he would be thrilled that a world-class art space, designed by award-winning architect, Richard Murphy, was going to be part of a bigger picture which aims to inject new life into this area of Greenock.

Louise, who is also a trustee of the George Wyllie Foundation, added: “Giving access to arts for all was always part of my father’s approach to creativity and we can’t wait to get started on a host of exciting arts-for-all projects.”

The Greenock Ocean Terminal project to create a visitor centre and berthing facility is expected to cost £14.7m as part of the £1bn Glasgow City Region City Deal which is funded equally by the Scottish and UK governments.

The proposal for a new visitor centre landmark building for Greenock is being developed by Richard Murphy Architects, one of Scotland’s most celebrated architect firms. The company has won an unprecedented 22 RIBA Awards.

The visitor centre is scheduled for completion in 2020.

Published in Cruise Liners
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#corkharbour - A picket by protestors held at Port of Cork sites in Cobh due to a dispute over public rights of way have been asked to stop, due to concerns that it is giving a bad impression to cruise liner tourists.

Locals reports EchoLive.ie are aggrieved that access to the Five Foot Way on Deepwater Quay has been restricted when cruise liners are docked.

However, the Port of Cork has said it needs to close the area for health and safety reasons when incoming cruise liners are tying up and taking off.

The 580 passengers arriving on the first cruise liner of the season on Monday, the Astoria, were met with protesters and more demonstrations are planned if an agreement is not reached.

The protestors have moved to clarify they are not picketing against the liners but some local councillors urged them to pursue the matter through other avenues.

More on the story can be read through this link. 

Published in Cork Harbour

A group of businesses across the tourism, retail and transport sectors have come together to campaign against the Dublin Port Company’s surprise ban on cruise ships entering Dublin Port from 2021. The group, which will be known as the All-Ireland Cruise Ship Action Group (AICSAG) was launched today at an event in Buswells Hotel in Dublin.

The group was formed following Dublin Port’s recent decision is in stark contrast to their activity in the past ten years of promoting Dublin Port as a cruise destination and highlighting the benefits cruise ships bring to the Irish economy and tourism business.

As Afloat reported yesterday, Dublin Town, the not for profit organisation charged with creating a welcoming and economically viable city environment in Dublin, has also urged Dublin Port to reconsider its decision to cut cruise ship calls.

330mRoyalPrincesscruiseship 121The 330m Royal Princess cruise ship that arrived in Dublin last year carrying more than 3,000 passengers and crew. Her arrival kickstarted a record cruise season for Dublin Port with 151 cruise calls confirmed for 2018, bringing just over 270,000 visitors to the city in 2018. Photo: Conor McCabe Photography.

AICSAG will be ramping up its campaign to reverse the decision by hosting a series of roadshows and media briefings across the island of Ireland, stopping off at principal locations such as Belfast, Cork and Waterford before travelling to the west and northwest of Ireland. The group is made up of concerned businesses in the retail, transport and tourism sectors who will be severely impacted by Dublin Port’s move. The group has the backing of DublinTown and Retail Excellence Ireland.

According to the Group’s spokesperson Niamh McCarthy, Chief Executive of Excursions Ireland, the Dublin Port Company’s decision will ‘’devastate Irish tourism and is driving a death nail into our business. Last year, cruise ships brought over 442,000 visitors to Ireland and generated over €50 million for the Irish economy. If Dublin Port is allowed to go ahead with its plan, all of this will be lost forever. We are calling on Government and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport to take immediate action to protect our jobs and businesses.’’

Niamh went on to say; ‘’for the past ten years, the Dublin Port Company have played an important role by increasing the numbers of cruise ships docking in Dublin and were at the forefront of highlighting their benefit to the Irish economy. Dublin Port have performed a complete sea change, to everyone’s amazement. Their latest damaging strategy has come out of nowhere and will risk the many thousands of jobs in Ireland dependent on the sector. This sudden change in policy is a total shock to both the all-Ireland tourism sector and its international stakeholders.’’

According to the other spokesperson, AICSAG member Feargal Barton of Barton’s Transport, the Dublin Port Company’s decision will also have a catastrophic impact on Ireland’s other port cities of Belfast, Cork and Waterford. ‘‘The cruise companies market Ireland as a destination, and in addition to Dublin the cruise ships stop off at Belfast, Waterford and Cork. Without access to Dublin Port, cruise companies will no longer stop in other Irish ports and will take their business to other European destinations. The cruise companies arrange cruises and marketing plans two years in advance, so urgent action is required to save the business for the 2021 season.’’

The recent decision by the Dublin Port Company to stop cruise ships docking at Dublin Port from 2021 was taken without any consultations or engagement with the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, local businesses, Dublin City Council, or the other Irish ports, namely Belfast, Waterford and Cork, who will be severely impacted by this decision.

Published in Dublin Port
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#CruiseLiners - Two million cruise passenger visitors made for a record breaking year at the Port of Southampton in 2017 according to AB Ports, the owner-operators of the UK's leading cruiseport.

The visitors brought with them a massive multi-million pound cash injection to the local economy.

Every time a cruise ship visits Southampton, it is estimated to bring a cash boost of £2m and in 2017 there more than 500 cruise calls.

ABP Southampton Director, Alastair Welch, said: “2017 was a record-breaking year for the Port of Southampton and 2018 looks set to be even busier.
“A huge amount of work goes into ensuring all passengers transit our facilities with the greatest of ease and it is testament to our whole port community that 2m cruise passengers receive Southampton’s world class service.”

In 2017 the port experienced its busiest long weekend ever when 15 cruise ships visited the port in June.

And it was recognised for the ninth consecutive year as the Best UK Departure Port by Cruise Critic UK editors.

In 2018 the port can look forward to:

· Eight maiden calls

· A naming ceremony for Azamara Pursuit following a major refit at Harland & Wolff, Belfast as reported on Afloat. The work in April is to be carried out by the Newry based speciliast fit-out firm, MJM Group.

Azamara Pursuit will be christened in Southampton in a first for Azamara Club Cruises. The lines other two ships, Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest, missed out on an official naming ceremony as they went straight into service after their original refurbishments.

Following the naming of Azamara Pursuit on 28 August, there will be a two-night celebratory cruise. Azamara Pursuit formerly sailed for P&O Cruises as Adonia (see Cuba cruises), and was acquired by Azamara in September 2017.

Azamara Chief Operating Officer Carol Cabezas said “This ship has a very strong British heritage and it has a fantastic following here. Plus we have seen a tremendous amount of demand from the UK audience. We’ve never had a christening in our brand’s history and we want to do that in Southampton.”

Also calling for the first time in Southampton will be: Aida Perla; Norwegian Bliss; MSC Meraviglia; Sapphire Princess; MS Zuiderdam; Seven Seas Navigator and MS Koningsdam.

On August 31 the port will experience a 6 ship day when Arcadia, Aurora, Braemar, Independence of the Seas, Mein Schiff 3 and Queen Victoria will all be alongside in Southampton. This day will showcase the diversity Southampton delivers for a range of lines and the breadth of off the cruise industry now has.

Published in Cruise Liners
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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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