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Belfast Harbour has been named the best port of call in the UK and Ireland for cruise ships. The accolade was awarded by a global panel of cruise experts as part of the 2019 Cruise Critic Editors’ Pick Awards.

It follows a record-breaking 2019 cruise season for the city with 146 cruise calls and 280,000 visitors. The judges were particularly impressed by a £500,000 investment by Belfast Harbour and Tourism NI in the island’s first dedicated cruise terminal which was officially opened in July.

The welcome facility, which includes a Visitor Information Centre managed by Visit Belfast, also boasts new facilities for coaches and taxis, and an easily accessible deep-water berth to accommodate larger cruise ships. The judges also praised the location of the terminal for providing “easy access to the city’s world-class attractions, such as Titanic Belfast in the city's famous Titanic Quarter”.

Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s CEO, said: “With our partners Visit Belfast we’ve worked hard to market Belfast Harbour and Northern Ireland under the ‘Cruise Belfast’ initiative as one of the best cruise destinations in Western Europe. We’ve also invested in a new terminal with the support of Tourism NI to encourage further growth in this strategically important sector. Considering the quality of other destinations in the UK and Ireland, we’re delighted to win the award”.

If you had left Belfast twenty years ago (as many did) you would remember the city as having turned its back on the River Lagan. Not so today. The waterfront has developed beyond imagination with of course, the magnificent Titanic Belfast, the Marina and many office and apartment blocks, river cruises and maritime festivals. Belfast Harbour is Northern Ireland’s leading gateway and key economic hub for trade and tourism, handling more than 70% of the region’s seaborne imports and exports. The 2,000-acre Harbour Estate hosts more than five million annual visits, including 1.5 million ferry and cruise ship passengers. It’s home to a vibrant mix of 760 businesses working across multiple sectors, to include marine logistics and heavy engineering, commercial and residential real estate, retail, financial and IT services, tourism and leisure, media and creative industries.

 

And helping feed the economy is the successful cruise tourism sector which encourages new tourist and leisure projects, and further enhances Belfast’s reputation as a leading destination, including within the cruise market.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast, added: In the 20 years since Visit Belfast was established, we have worked with Belfast Harbour to attract cruise visitors to the city and region, and the result has been an enormous increase in the number of visitors and ships coming to the city. In total, Cruise Belfast has brought 784 ships to the city since 1999, and in the last five years alone, cruise visitor numbers have increased by 135%.

John McGrillen, Tourism NI Chief Executive, commented: “This is a great achievement for Belfast’s international visitor reputation and is a result of major investment in the cruise tourism market which saw the opening of our first dedicated cruise terminal in July. The new terminal can accommodate bigger cruise ships bringing visitors from key markets across Europe and ensure that once they are here, they are easily able to access all of our world-famous attractions and hospitality.

The awards are based on Cruise Critic editors’ impartial cruise expertise which draws upon first-hand experiences and industry knowledge. Adam Coulter, UK Managing Editor, Cruise Critic said: “The desire for more experiential holidays, especially amongst younger travellers is certainly helping to boost the UK cruise sector. There is more choice than ever before in ocean, river and expedition cruises as a result of an array of exciting new ships launched this year and next. Whether you are cruising as a multi-generational family, a couple or solo, there really is a cruise for everyone.”

In addition to its record-breaking cruise season, Belfast Harbour also welcomed several firsts during 2019. These included the visits of ‘Disney Magic’ and SAGA’s first ever new build vessel, the ‘Spirit of Discovery’. The port also welcomed 6,500 visitors and crew onboard the ‘MSC Meraviglia’, the largest ship by passenger capacity to ever visit Belfast. The Harbour has also invested in new facilities to market Belfast as a cruise embarkation port. Cruise & Maritime has already scheduled departures from Belfast for next summer including Norwegian Fjord and British Isles itineraries.

Published in Cruise Liners

There is only one more cruise ship is left to visit in December, for what has been a record cruise season for the Port of Cork with 100 cruise liners visiting in 2019. In total over 243,000 passengers and crew visited the region with many passengers visiting Cork for the first time.

In 2019, Cobh was recognised as one of the best cruise destinations in the world, winning in the Top-Rated British Isles & Western Europe Cruise Destination category. Destinations awarded in this year’s awards received the highest ratings among cruisers who cruised to the destination in the past year and shared their experiences on Cruise Critic.

Port of Cork Chief Executive, Mr Brendan Keating said: “We are hugely proud of the increase in cruise tourism and growing our business to 100 calls has surpassed our expectations. However in order to successfully promote Cork as a sustainable cruise destination, it takes commitment from local tourism bodies, local businesses and Cork City and Cork County Council to work together to enhance the reputation of Cork globally.’

He continued: ‘On average, cruise ship passengers spend €81 during their visit to Cork while crew spend approximately €29. Improving and exciting the passengers' shore experience will encourage a return visit to the region increasing tourism and boosting the local economy.’

As well as Cobh the Port of Cork also operates Bantry Bay Port Company which saw 10 cruise liners calling to the West Cork area this summer. Bantry Harbour and Glengarriff can accommodate the smaller boutique and expedition-style cruise liners whose passengers tend to look for an active cruise. Bantry Bay Port Company has developed a cruise strategy for Bantry in order to grow the business in West Cork. The smaller cruise liner market or ‘expedition’ market has huge growth potential and it is this market that Bantry hopes to capitalise on over the next few years, with the guidance of the Port of Cork.

The cruise industry which anticipates that 30 million passengers globally will cruise in 2019 has seen a major shift in the demographic now taking to the seas. Cruising is seen as an attractive, affordable method of travel, offering passengers multiple destinations and an array of experiences.

What has also become clear is that according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) travellers want to see the world in a conscious, mindful way and the cruise industry is more conscientious than ever, working carefully to minimize environmental footprints.

Published in Cruise Liners
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Dublin Port Company (DPC) has launched a public consultation on the future of cruise liner tourism at Dublin Port. To help inform the consultation process, DPC has published a discussion paper setting out key considerations to be addressed. DPC has also published the findings of an independent economic cost-benefit analysis by Indecon International Economic Consultants and recent research by Fáilte Ireland on expenditure by cruise tourists in Dublin.

The consultation, which opens today and runs until 17th January 2020, seeks the views of stakeholders on the future development of cruise tourism in Dublin regarding a number of issues, including:

  • The appetite of the City of Dublin for large-scale cruise tourism;
  • Environmental considerations, specifically air emissions;
  • The financial challenge of funding proposed new cruise berths.

The context for the consultation is Dublin Port’s Alexandra Basin Redevelopment (ABR) Project, which is currently under construction. The final part of this project will involve building new berths suitable for the largest cruise ships at North Wall Quay Extension, east of the Tom Clarke Bridge. Construction is scheduled to start in 2024, meaning the new berths would be available for the cruise season of 2026.

Widespread Support a Prerequisite

DPC is first and foremost looking to ascertain the level of broad-based appropriate support as a prerequisite for the proposed development. The key question being asked of stakeholders, including the general public, is whether Dublin wants to have a large-scale cruise tourism business. If so, then the proposed berths at North Wall Quay Extension are needed.

Air Emissions

Any new berths that might be constructed will have provision for shore power and cruise ships would be required to turn off their engines and use this shore power while at berth. This mandatory requirement is particularly important given the challenge facing the City to address likely imminent breaches of EU air quality limits. DPC wishes to establish the willingness and ability of cruise lines to meet this requirement in Dublin in the future if the new berths are constructed.

Investment Required

The investment required to construct the new berths at North Wall Quay Extension is estimated at €108 million, excluding terminal facilities for cruise turnarounds. Dublin Port Company projects that this investment could treble the number of cruise tourists to 619,000 by 2040, with approximately one-third of these being turnaround passengers who start and finish their cruise in Dublin. By way of context, Dublin Port received some 197,000 cruise tourists in 2018, and approximately one-fifth were turnaround passengers. 

Indecon Report

DPC commissioned Indecon International Economic Consultants to evaluate the economic benefit from the proposed investment and from the projected increase in cruise tourism. Indecon’s key finding is that the economic return would be positive. Indecon estimates that the investment of
€108 million (over the years 2024 to 2026) would generate a net economic benefit of €211 million (at 2019 values), equivalent to a benefit to cost ratio of 2.83.

However, the scale of the investment required and the level of risk are such that DPC could not itself finance the project. The company is currently implementing a €1 billion ten-year capital investment programme to deliver additional capacity to cater for projected cargo growth up to 2040. From a development risk perspective, the proposed new berths would be of limited alternative use outside of cruise, i.e. for revenue-generating cargo operations.

Co-Financing Arrangement

Therefore, if the project is to proceed, co-financing is required (as outlined in Masterplan 2020 – Reviewed 2018, Page 33). This could involve a concession agreement with a private sector operator or operators which would provide the €108 million funding up front in exchange for the right to operate the facility for a defined period. Such an approach is provided for in National Ports Policy. Based on the Indecon analysis, DPC is seeking to establish the level of interest among cruise companies and others to support the required investment and arrangement.

Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, said: “The first part of this consultation asks whether Dublin wants a large cruise tourism business or not. We need to know that there is widespread support and a genuine desire to see cruise tourism on a significantly larger scale than ever before if we are to proceed to build new berths as far upriver as the Tom Clarke Bridge capable of accommodating the largest cruise ships two at a time.

“The second aspect of the consultation looks at how the construction of new cruise berths at
North Wall Quay Extension can be financed. With the Indecon analysis complete, we are clear about the economic benefits of any such investment, but unclear about the industry’s willingness to co-finance future development. This consultation provides an important opportunity to engage and we welcome responses from all stakeholders, national and international, to the process.”

Submissions

Interested parties are invited to respond to the consultation document (available to download at https://www.dublinport.ie/masterplan/cruise-consultation/ no later than 17th January 2020, either by email to [email protected] or by post to:

Cruise Consultation, Dublin Port Company, Port Centre, Alexandra Road, Dublin 1.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
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The All-Ireland Cruise Ship Action Group will be appearing before the Oireachtas Committee on Transport, Tourism and Sport today at 1.30pm.

The Group says it will be giving evidence on the impact the Dublin Port Company’s ban on cruise ships will have to the tourism industry, the cross-border economy and for local business in the port cities Cork, Belfast, Dublin and Waterford.

The Committee will also hear evidence on the background to the decision by Dublin Port Company to reduce the number of Cruise Ships coming into the capital.

Tune in at 1.30pm below to hear more.

Published in Dublin Port
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The first of 102 cruise liners MV Astoria will arrive into Cobh on Monday 1st April and officially commence the Port of Cork’s 2019 cruise season. Without doubt, 2019 will be a record year for the Port of Cork with the numbers of scheduled calls the highest the port has ever seen. Capable of handling some of the largest liners, carrying high volumes of passengers at their dedicated cruise berth in Cobh, the Port of Cork anticipates total passenger numbers to be 200,000 and 80,000 crew.

Fourteen cruise liners will make their maiden calls to the Port this season which is always encouraging, however, the number of repeat visits from cruise lines shows their dedication to Cobh.

The increased cruise calls to Cork are indicative of the wider global cruise business which has seen huge growth. In 2018 an estimated 27.2 million people took a cruise on over 450 cruise ships worldwide. With the global cruise ship order book for new build contracts reaching 113 ships between now and 2027, Cork cruise business is set to grow further in the coming years and the Port of Cork is eager to attract these new ships.

According to Conor Mowlds, Port of Cork Chief Commercial Officer, and recently appointed Chairman of Cruise Ireland, Cork’s profile has been raised significantly in recent years, due to a series of glowing reports in some of the world’s leading cruise travel journals. Surveys report a high degree of satisfaction among visitors with the regions natural amenities proving especially popular. Joined up thinking and collaboration of local authorities and tourism representatives working to promote the area has also greatly benefited the region.

Mr Mowlds said: “It is not as difficult to sell Cork as it was ten years ago and there is a much wider recognition of the Cork brand globally especially since the launch of the We Are Cork and Pure Cork brands. As we know, in order to successfully promote a city, it requires hard work from all parties involved and we will continue to work with Cork City and Cork County Council to promote and enhance the reputation of Cork globally.’

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.

As well as Cobh 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. Bantry Bay Port Company and the Port of Cork are currently developing a cruise strategy for Bantry in order to grow the business in West Cork.

Published in Port of Cork
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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.

Published in Port of Cork

2019 is set to be an exciting year in the Irish cruise calendar as Celebrity Cruises confirms that Dublin Port will become a regular fixture. With five turnarounds in the port, Celebrity Refection will call Dublin home from May to June 2019.

In 2018 Celebrity Cruises becomes the first major cruise line to homeport a ship in the city when Celebrity Eclipse arrives in Dublin in April 2018, offering a mini season of five sailings. Due to the success of this inaugural season, Celebrity Cruises is continuing to feature Dublin as one of its prestigious homeports in 2019 and bringing a newer ship to Ireland. In 2019 over 15,000 holidaymakers will start their cruise holiday in Dublin with CelebrityCruises.

Celebrity Cruises will base the 3,030-guest Celebrity Reflection in Dublin in early summer 2019 offering a series of eight, 10, 11 and 12 night sailings. Cruises will sail to Iceland, destinations throughout Ireland, in the Norwegian Fjords and around the British Isles.

Celebrity Reflection launched in 2012 and is currently the newest ship in the Celebrity Cruises fleet. Featuring a real grass lawn on the top deck with private cabanas and the luxurious Reflection Suite – a one-of-a-kind two bedroomed suite with a shower cantilevered out above the ocean, and private butler service – Celebrity Reflection is one of the most stylish ships at sea.

The exciting expansion of Celebrity Cruises’ Ireland programme follows strong guest demand for cruises from Dublin, and the support of the Irish travel industry including travel agents and Dublin Port.

Lorraine Quinn, head of sales, Ireland, Celebrity Cruises, explains: “Sailings starting in Ireland from Dublin Port have been popular with our guests from all over the world. We are really pleased with the performance of the 2018 season for Celebrity Eclipse, and our 2019 deployment of a slightly larger ship in Celebrity Reflection to Dublin sees an increase in the number of people who will sail from this great city. Confirming our ongoing commitment to Ireland is a huge thank you to those who have aided Celebrity Cruises in becoming the first major cruise line to base a cruise ship in Dublin. I can’t wait to be part of the huge welcome that our guests will receive in 2018, 2019 and beyond.”

Pat Ward, Head of Corporate Services, Dublin Port Company adds: “We are delighted that Celebrity Cruises has chosen Dublin as the homeport for the deluxe Celebrity Reflection during 2019 confirming Dublin City as a marquee destination for the world’s largest cruise lines. Celebrity Reflection, measuring 319m long and boasting 14 decks, will be one of the most impressive cruise ships to arrive into Dublin Port. Our location at the heart of the city means that guests can maximise their time in the capital, relaxing in one of our many fine hotels while taking in the city’s sights, shops and attractions with ease. Dublin Port’s cruise business is growing from strength to strength. We are already on track for a record year in 2018, and with work on our Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project having commenced, the future of cruise tourism to the capital is now secure.”

Both Celebrity Eclipse and Celebrity Reflection are part of Celebrity Cruises’ newest Solstice Class of ships, all introduced between 2008 and 2012. In addition to luxury guest accommodations, designer boutiques, extensive bars and restaurants, they also feature a real grass lawn on the top deck. With many awards particularly for its food and wine, Celebrity Cruises boasts the largest and rarest collection of wine at and sea and host of exclusive restaurants on-board all overseen by a Michelin-starred executive chef.

Celebrity Cruises continues to grow and expand its fleet with a new class of ship currently under construction. The first of those ships – Celebrity Edge – will enter service in December 2018.

Published in Dublin Port

For the second handicap race of the year, for The Buckingham Cup and The Wigham Trophy, the Dun Laoghaire Water Wags were discommoded by a 9,975 ton, 440ft long cruise liner, The Star Pride with her 208 passengers and 164 crew.

She was scheduled to leave the Carlisle Pier at 18.00hrs but there was an upset to her plans. Allegedly, a replacement part was required for her engines, which was being delivered from Dublin Port by car, leaving the latter venue at 18.00hrs. Instructions were conveyed to the Water Wags by Harbour Company officials. The reality was something different. At approx. 18.45hrs the tugboat Burfort arrived in Dun Laoghaire harbour joined by the Dublin Port harbour pilot. They set to work quickly, towed The Star Pride by the stern, until the liner was in the centre of the harbour. They then spun her, until the bow was pointing towards the harbour mouth.

The Wags quickly launched, the committee boat then laid a four-lap course with a start line near the marina entrance, and windward mark under the East Pier Lighthouse. The first Water wag to start was Nandor, followed half a minute later by Chloe, and Coquette, Polly and Scallywag two minutes later. Last to start after the passage of six minutes were Moosmie, Gavotte, Swift, Tortoise and Eva.
As the race developed the early starters merged with some of those faster boats attacking from behind. It soon became clear that the leaders, mother and daughter team of Kate & Amy O’Leary in Chloe and Mc Bride & McBean in Nandor were in for a great battle. A similar battle developed between Hal Sisk and Sue Westrup in Good Hope and Ian Magowan in the recently restored Mary Kate. At the finish, the order was:

1st – 34, Chloe. Kate & Amy O’Leary
2nd. -26, Nandor, Brian McBride and Stuart McBean
3rd.- 6, Mary Kate, Ian & Jenny Magowan
4th. -18, Good Hope
5th. -46, Mademoiselle
6th. - 3, Pansy
7th. -Moosmie
8th. - 38, Swift
9th. - 10, Sprite
10th. -30 Sara
11th. -45, Mariposa
12th. -42, Tortoise
13th. -17, Coquette

Published in Water Wag

A Dublin Port Pilot boat and a Tug accompanied Star Pride, a 208–passenger cruise liner into her berth at Dun Laoghaire Harbour this morning.

The 133m Star Pride, launched in 1988, is one of three German built cruise ships, that were initially built for Seabourn Cruise Line.

She was known as Seabourn Pride and is now operated for Windstar Cruises and was the first of her class.

The cruise ship, that has recently cruised the Baltic and Iceland, is berthed at the Carlisle Pier close to the National Yacht Club.

Published in Cruise Liners
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The arrival of the five star luxury cruise ship Serenissima into Dun Laoghaire this morning kicks off the town's summer cruise-liner visits this morning.

Weighing in at over 2,500 tonnes, the Serenissima is the length of a soccer pitch, has 59 cabins and a passenger and crew complement of 160 people, will call today, allowing its passengers and crew take in the sights of Dun Laoghaire and surrounds.

Welcoming the ship into Dun Laoghaire, Carolyn Hanaphy of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company said today that “the Serenissima is the first of 8 cruise ship visits scheduled for Dun Laoghaire this summer, bringing with them nearly 3,000 passengers and crew into the town. We are always delighted to see these ships come to our town and spend some time here. Each of these ships is welcomed alongside the historic Carlisle Pier leaving disembarking passengers and crew just 500 metres from the town centre where they can enjoy all that Dun Laoghaire offers in terms of hospitality, shopping and good restaurants and pubs all within a short stroll from the ship.”

Cruise ship dun LaoghaireCruise ship 'Serenissima' berthed at the Carlisle Pier in Dun Laoghaire

Dun Laoghaire Harbour Master Capt. Simon Coate today said that “Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company work hard to secure luxury ships of this kind to come and visit our harbour. The Serenissima which will stop off on her way around the “Gardens of the British Isles” is a charming vessel with a unique style. During a major refit the owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create an 18th century influenced Gustavian style interior. The unique style and grandeur of this vessel certainly is in keeping with the unique aesthetics of our 200-year-old harbour, making Dun Laoghaire a sought-after port of call on her voyage.”

The ship is on a 12-day cruise of the “Gardens of the British Isles”. She left Portsmouth 7 days ago and has already made numerous stops along the English coast, has stopped off in Bantry Bay to visit Garnish Island and Waterford and now she is calling to Dun Laoghaire to visit Powerscourt Gardens. The ship will continue onto Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland on route to her final destination in Oban in Scotland.

Published in Cruise Liners
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