MV Astoria arrived into Cobh today, the first of 94 cruise liners to visit the Port of Cork in 2018, a 30% increase on 2017 calls. The Port of Cork anticipates with 94 cruise calls the total passenger numbers to be 188,844 and 80,000 crew.
Up to eight cruise liners will make their maiden calls to Cork, including Disney Cruise Lines ‘MV Disney Magic’ in September and the largest of the MSC Cruise Lines fleet, MSC Meraviglia carrying a maximum of 4,500 passengers. Royal Caribbean’s MV Royal Princess will call ten times in 2018.
In 2017 the Port of Cork carried out cruise research on both passengers and crew arriving into Cobh and Ringaskiddy. The aim of the research was to get a sense of passengers shore excursions experiences and to determine any areas are in need of improvement. According to the research results many passengers who take the pre-booked shore excursions reported high experiences, while the ‘independent’ passengers seem to be looking for alternative more active experiences in both the City and the County.
The results of the cruise research also highlighted an increase in passenger and crew spend. On average, cruise ship passengers spend €81 during their time in Cork; with 42% of this money being spent on shopping, 32% on excursion travel and 17% on food and drink. Typically crew spend approximately €29, with most of the money being spent on food and drink and/or shopping.
Commercial Manager Captain Michael McCarthy said: ‘We have seen a massive surge in cruise calls for 2018 with a 30% increase in calls. These calls will bring outstanding economic growth to Cork City and County between March and September, with over 180,000 passengers stepping ashore and 80,000 crew.’
He continued: ‘We are absolutely delighted with the growth in the cruise sector and so far we are seeing a high volume of calls for 2019 also. It’s very encouraging to see cruise lines bringing their newest vessels to Cork on maiden calls and choosing Cobh as part of their cruising route.’
As well as Cork the Port of Cork also operates Bantry Bay Port Company which will see ten cruise liners calling to the West Cork area this summer. Bantry Harbour and Glengarriff can accommodate the smaller boutique cruise liners whose passengers tend to look for active expedition cruises. In 2017 just five liners called West Cork, showing a 50% increase in 2018 calls.