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#sdls –  A new group, Save Dun Laoghaire Sailing (SDLS), has come forward with radical proposals for a re-configuration of the harbour in order to accommodate the proposed Cruise Liner Berth in the harbour, (plans of which were revealed on Afloat.ie last Thursday), while at the same time maintaining the town's pre-eminent role as Ireland's greatest sailing centre.

A spokesperson for SDLS said that the new group's proposals were still only at a very preliminary stage, but the extremely short time lapse permitted for objections or modifications to the Harbour Company's plan has meant that they have had to act in great haste. 

However, the spokesperson asserted that the harbour's thousands of recreational sailors are so concerned at some elements of the new plan - such as the rumoured intention to forbid boats manoeuvring under sail only, let alone racing, within the harbour – that they have had no trouble in recruiting supporters, and an ad hoc inaugural meeting in recent days instructed an acting committee to proceed as rapidly as possible.

The underlying thinking behind SDLS's proposals is that the areas of activity for the different interests within the harbour should be clearly delineated. "Good fences make good neighbours" is the group's core philosophy, and with this in mind they have proposed two new in-harbour breakwaters in order that the large area in the centre of the harbour, which is intended for use by the new cruise liner berthing facilities, will be walled off from other areas of the port.

This will be done by a new in-harbour breakwater from St Michael's Pier to the outer end of the present East Pier, and another small in-harbour breakwater closing off the present outer entrance to the marina.

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Dun Laoghaire Harbour with the Harbour Company's proposed Cruise Liner Berth occupying most of the space between St Michael's Pier and the harbour entrance

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Radical proposals from SDLS (Save Dun Laoghaire Sailing) include new Eastern and Western entrances to the harbour, and two new in-harbour breakwaters which will clearly separate the cruise liner areas from the recreational sailing and boating areas. In effect, three new harbours will be created.

 In order to make this feasible, the group has come up with the visionary concept of giving Dun Laoghaire Harbour two additional entrances. The new entrance to the east would be created by making a gap in the existing East Pier, and would inevitably be expensive, as this is exposed to onshore winds, and thus would require a very substantial sheltering breakwater. However, it would still be as cost-effective as possible, as this new Eastern Entrance would not need to be nearly as wide as the current main entrance, as that was created in order to be negotiated by the cumbersome sailing ships of the early 19th Century.

When Afloat.ie pointed out to the spokesperson (who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being) that a gap in the East Pier would result in the ending of the time-honoured tradition of South Dubliners walking the length of the pier on a Sunday, the response was that the demographic is such that an increasing number of South Dubliners are so aged as to be no longer capable of walking the entire length of the East Pier, and thus they would welcome the shorter walk to the lighthouse which will be provided by the new inner breakwater direct from St Michael's Pier.

A further question about the need for manoeuvring space for the cruise liners between their proposed berth and the East Pier elicited the reply that the Harbour Company have already made it clear that they will have to dredge a ten metre channel from the present main entrance to the new berth to serve the deeper drafted liners. Therefore the building of a new pier along the eastern edge of this dredged channel will not impinge on the cruise liners' area of access, and will moreover restrain small craft which might be sailing or racing in the eastern harbour from straying into the liner area.

SDLS is particularly enthused about the possibilities offered by he new western entrance. "For far too long, the West Pier has been more like the Wild West Pier than part of a civilised harbour," we were told. Now, with the new entrance, it will be brought centre stage, and those dinghy sailors from the RIYC, the DMYC, the INSS and the Coal Harbour who were formerly reluctant to venture into the open waters of Dublin Bay will find they have easy access to the relatively sheltered Bay waters between the West Pier and Seapoint.

SDLS conclude their initial policy document by pointing out that their plan would in effect provide the benefit of having three harbours where at present only one exists. And for further diversity, they suggest that the central commercial area for the cruise liners could possibly, in time, also accommodate some working fishing boats, as the colourful activity of hardy fisherfolk is much appreciated by cruise liner passengers 

As to the fact that the creation of two new entrances means in effect that there will now be two completely separate leisure harbours on the south side of Dublin Bay with their entrances one and a half miles apart, SDLS argues that this is one of the most attractive features of their plan.

"Sailing enthusiasts from places blessed with natural advantages and numerous little ports of call, such as Cork Harbour, are always bemoaning the fact that when you sail out of Dun Laoghaire, there is nowhere convenient to go to within easy reach. But thanks to our plan, we can now envisage that a boat which has to go to sea via the new West Entrance could go out for a nice sail in Dublin Bay, and then go visiting in the eastern part of the harbour through the new Eastern Entrance, and vice versa.

Having considered these attractive options, we don't see the proposed new cruise liner berth as a problem. On the contrary, we see it as an opportunity to make Dun Laoghaire a much more interesting place to sail from".

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Dun Laoghaire harbour largely as it is today, although the presence of the HSS ferry in port is now history and the contentious new library has been inserted in the tree-surrounded green space at right foreground. Photo courtesy ICC.

Editor's Note: Normally our April 1st special would be pulled at noon. But as virtually all plans for a totally artificial harbour at Dun Laoghaire, ever since the first ones more than two hundred years ago, have been initially treated as an April Fool joke, we think we'll let this one run. And further comments are welcome, for underlying the tomfoolery, a very serious situation is developing for the harbour's future.

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Published in Dublin Bay

#cruiseliners – Dún Laoghaire Harbour is preparing for a bumper season of cruise–liner visits to the south Dublin Bay port. The biggest caller will be the first arrival in May (calling on May 15th and again on the 21st) and also at the end of August when the cruise ship Splendid arrives with a massive 3,900 passengers and 1346 crew onboard.

If it is assumed that every ship is full to capacity and every passenger goes ashore then Dun Laoghaire can expect an influx of some 63,237 waterborne tourists over the course of the 2015 summer season.

If you add in ships crew numbers this figure is boosted by over 25,000 bringing the potential visitor tot to 88,282. A welcome boost!

Read the full 2015 Dun Laoghaire cruise–liner calendar below: 

11/05/15 – Splendida – 3900 passengers/1313 crew
12/05/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers/1346 crew
20/05/15 – Queen Mary 2 – 3000 passengers / 1328 crew
21/05/15 – Splendida – 3900 passengers / 1313 crew
24/05/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
05/06/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
14/06/15 – Celebrity Silhouette – 2886 passengers / 1525 crew
19/06/15 – Island Sky – 116 passengers / 66 crew
26/06/15 – Star Legend – 208 passengers / 164 crew
29/06/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
29/06/15 – Wind Surf – 312 passengers / 312 crew
12/07/15 – Star Legend – 208 passengers / 164 crew
14/07/15 – Brittania – 3647 passengers / 1350 crew
17/07/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
23/07/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
23/07/15 – Celebrity Silhouette – 3145 passengers / 1525 crew
04/08/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
15/08/15 – Celebrity Silhouette – 3145 passengers / 1525 crew
16/08/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
28/08/15 – Royal Princess – 3600 passengers / 1346 crew
29/08/15 – Splendida – 3900 passengers / 1346 crew
18/09/15 – Mein Schiff 4 – 2500 passengers / 1000 crew

Published in Cruise Liners
Tagged under
#CRUISE LINER–Up to 900 delegates from the fuel industry in Brazil are being rewarded for their business with a high end incentive trip in 2012 which will include a visit to Cork. They will travel on the cruise liner MV Independence of the Seas which will berth at Cobh Cruise Terminal overnight. The group, which is being co-ordinated by Kuoni Destination Management Company will experience Cork over a day and a half. This is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the region of Cork, voted one of the top ten European destinations to visit in 2011 by Yahoo Search Engine.

Cork Convention Bureau (CCB) has been working with Kuoni on an impressive itinerary for next year. A group of 12 visited Cork on September 17th and 18th last on a fact finding mission. CCB ensured they experienced the best of the region including a visit to the coastal town of Kinsale, the Queenstown Heritage Centre in Cobh, Fota House and even a night at the dog races! As a result of this site inspection a programme has been devised. A gala dinner in the grounds of Castlemartyr Resort Hotel with the backdrop of the castle ruins has been proposed followed by a day of excursions including the Jameson Distillery in the town of Midleton and the obligatory kissing of the Blarney Stone. Two hours of free time in Cork's city centre will allow the group to browse the chic boutiques and have lunch at many of Cork's great restaurants tasting local artisan produce.

'This business will be worth an estimated €500,000 to the Cork region. Since its inception in 2007, CCB has been responsible for more than €20 million worth of conference, meeting and incentive business in Cork. Cork is at its peak right now and international event organisers looking for new destinations are very impressed with the product offering.' Evelyn O'Sullivan, Business Tourism Manager CCB. (Cork Convention Bureau is an initiative of Cork City and County Councils, Failte Ireland and is also supported by the regions hotels.)

Commenting on the delegate visit to Cork, Captain Michael McCarthy Port of Cork said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for Cork to leave a very positive welcoming experience for the 900 visitors. It is very encouraging to see commercial companies using the cruise liner business as a method of visiting the region. Statistics available from the cruise lines indicate that 30% of cruise passengers make a return visit to a region they visited on their cruise itinerary. This would be excellent for Cork if some or all of these delegates return in the future with their family or friends or indeed looked at future business opportunities." In order to ensure that their visit is memorable, the Port of Cork will coordinate a special welcome with the Tour Operator, Cobh Tourism, Town Council and Chamber, Irish Rail and Cork City TEAM.

He continued: "The Port of Cork has been involved for the last 3 years with Spanish, French and Portuguese Ports in developing the European Atlantic Area as a premier cruise destination. This work under an EU Initiative "Cruise Atlantic Europe" is aimed at developing the historic links between these countries and the Latin nations in South America, particularly Brazil to encourage them to visit this region. The Independence of the Seas is due to berth in the Port of Cork between the 6th-7th May 2012 with over 5,000 passengers and crew.

Published in Cruise Liners
Although the economy has been on a roller coaster ride towards recession, serious discounting has allowed the cruise industry to remain remarkably buoyant, a situation that will continue into 2012, according to Douglas Ward, the author of the soon to be published 2012 edition of the Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships (pub date Oct 1, 2011, £17.99, as well as a new App edition).  However, for families eager to take advantage of cruising's outstanding value next summer, Ward advises them to look no further than the Mediterranean and Northern Europe where he forecasts areas of overcapacity, leading to still greater discounts. With family cruising the biggest growth area, the large resort ships have responded by introducing more and better children's facilities.

The Truth About Low Fares

The 2012 Guide explains that bargains do exist, but advises that it's important to read the small print before booking.  To reduce prices, cruise lines have to cut costs if they are to stay afloat, and they do so by reducing anything from food portions, training, the strength of coffee, service levels to the variety of green vegetables.  When budgeting, cruise-goers should be wary of the following:

add–ons such as government taxes and a processing fee can take the glow off an apparent give-away price
a highly discounted fare may apply only to certain dates and itineraries and it may be subject to a booking deadline
a limited cabin choice, grade and location may be available
being restricted to first seating at dinner
the low fare may not apply to children, and
port charges, handling fees, fuel surcharges or other taxes may cost extra

The 2012 Winners .... and Losers

The hard hitting reviews in this eagerly awaited Guide expose the best and worst scoring cruise ships using an internationally accepted rating system devised by the author, the most feared critic in the business.  The only source of independent star-rating of virtually all ocean-going cruise ships worldwide, the Guide takes into account a remarkable 400 separate items based on personal cruises, visits and revisits to ships, as well as observations and comments from Ward's team.  Having reviewed 285 cruise ships, the new Berlitz Guide names the top-rating ships for 2012, with the 10 most highly rated being officially 'small' or 'boutique', and explains why they scored as highly as they did. Europa, a 'Small Ship' of Hapag Lloyd Cruises, comes out on top for the 12th year and is once again the only vessel to be placed in the exclusive 5-star Plus 'club'. Seabourn's ships scoop a remarkable 6 of the 10 Top places, while SeaDream gets the top two slots in the Boutique Ships category.

Commenting on Europa's consistency, Douglas Ward, said, "Although Europa is now 12 years old, it continues to score the most points with 1,852 out of a possible 2,000 points.  The only ship to have a 3-star Michelin chef on board for most of the year, Europa is a classic that has stood the test of time, and looks almost new, thanks to the dedication of its crew and owners. However, there are movers in the ranks too, with ships going both up and down in star rating, to reflect the changes in service or staff training."  Bumping along on the bottom are two National Geographic ships, Sea Bird and Sea Lion, both being small, basic, old ships for wildlife or nature watching. (See Note to Editors for Top 3 Ships in each of the 4 categories.)

The 2012 edition of the Berlitz Cruise Ships App for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch allows would-be cruise-goers to quickly search through all 285 ships according to their needs, whether for family travel, cuisine, accommodation, size of ship and many other criteria.

The World's Top Authority on Cruising and Cruise Ships

When it comes to life on the ocean waves, Ward is the world's top authority on cruising and cruise ships, with more than 45 years of experience.  He continues to spend up to 200 days a year aboard cruise ships, inspecting and evaluating their facilities.  The cruise industry consists of more than 70 ocean going cruise ship operators carrying over 21 million passengers a year.  Although the choice can be almost over-whelming, this new Guide will help readers identify the X-factor - that special quality that makes a ship stand out for them.

Fully updated and revised and now in its 27th year, the Berlitz 2012 Complete Guide to Cruising & Cruise Ships, will be available from October 1, 2011 (688 pages, £17.99) from all good bookstores. The Berlitz Cruise Ships 2012 App will also be available during October.  For further information visit www.berlitzpublishing.com

Published in News Update
Tagged under
With a single short blast at 08.10hrs, the 90,901 tonnes MV Queen Elizabeth marked her maiden call to Cobh as she passed the town's St Colman's Cathedral this morning, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Despite the squally and blustery conditions, the 294m Cunard Line cruiseship was assisted by the tug Gerry O'Sullivan, was swung swing around in the turning basin off Cobh with the consumate skill of her master Captain Christopher Wells. She eased alongside the deepwater cruise berth fifty minutes later with the first mooring line cast off from the bow to an awaiting lines-boat at 09.00hrs, as exactly scheduled.

Published in Cruise Liners

The luxurious ocean liner, MV Queen Elizabeth will make her maiden call to Cobh tomorrow morning arriving at 9am and bringing with her over 3,000 passengers and crew.  With a gross tonnage of 90,900 GRT and a guest capacity of 2,068 and 996 crew, MV Queen Elizabeth is the newest Cunarder to join the fleet.

To coincide with her maiden call, the Port of Cork together with Cunard will hold a Lusitania Memorial Service in the centre of Cobh town.  Led by Captain Christopher Wells, this service will be attended by the Chairman of the Port of Cork, Port of Cork Directors, Mayor of the Town of Cobh, the County Mayor and the Lord Mayor. A number of other key figures have also been invited.

Cunard have a great history of calling to the Port of Cork and over the years all of Cunard’s liners have made a visit to Cobh. This year is the first year to welcome all three queens; Queen Mary II, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth to Cobh. In 2009, MV Queen Elizabeth II made her final call to Cobh before departing for Dubai where she was to become a floating hotel.

The following will be read at the Lusitania Memorial Service, by Captain Michael McCarthy Port of Cork;

The sinking of the Lusitania on 7th May 1915 was a human catastrophe on a scale that this small town had not experienced before or since.

When the Lusitania left New York there were 1,962 people on board,  694 crew,1,265 passengers and 3 stowaways. Only 764 people survived – 474 passengers and 290 crew. Over 800 of the victim’s bodies were never found. The bodies landed in Cobh were buried in 3 mass graves in the “Old Church Cemetary”.

The People in Queenstown, Cobh, witnessed the trauma, tragedy and heartbreak that ensued. The dead, the injured and the bereaved were brought among a community here that mobilised itself and responded with courage and compassion to their needs.  One of the survivors, Charles Lauriat, later referred in his book “The Lusitania’s Last Voyage” to the streets filled with people ready to do anything in their power to relieve our sufferings. He said he had never seen anything more spontaneous or genuine or more freely given than the Irish hospitality of Queenstown.

This memorial reflects the eternal connection between Cobh, the” Lusitania” and Cunard, and is a stark reminder of the tragedy of war.
It is fitting that today Captain Christopher Wells of Cunard’s vessel “Queen Elizabeth” should be here together with the Mayor and people of Cobh to reflect on the great loss and the human tragedy of the “Lusitania”.

Queen Elizabeth:  73 years ago, Cunard’s first “Queen Elizabeth” entered service. The launching of that ship was described as “the inception of a great human enterprise, an act of faith”. Could they have imagined the design and capability of the current vessel berthed at the Cobh Cruise Berth?

In October 2008, Cunard announced the building of this magnificent vessel at an estimated cost of €500 million euros, and within 2 years the naming ceremony was carried out in Southampton by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11,. The vessel departed on her Maiden voyage under the command of Captain Chris Wells on the 12th October 2010 .She has already completed a World voyage, transited the Suez and Panama Canals and crossed the World’s Oceans.

Captain Wells has already served a long and distinguished career in the Merchant Navy and following many years in command, was in 2008 appointed Master of the Queen Mary 2, the same year the QE2 was retired from the Cunard Fleet. He was subsequently appointed the first Master of the Queen Elizabeth in 2009


Published in Cruise Liners

Cruising off the east coast of Leinster this evening is the veteran cruiseship Marco Polo which is bound for the Scilly Isles off Land's End, writes Jehan Ashmore.

For those with an appreciation for the more traditional tiered deck profile compared to the bulky new giant cruiseships, the 22,080 tonnes vessel built as the Aleksandr Puskin at the Mathias-Thesen-Werft, East Germany, certainly represents a different era. 

The liner entered service in 1966 with the Baltic Shipping Company on their regular trans-Atlantic Montreal-Leningrad service. In 1975 she was converted for her new role as a full-time cruiseship. For a cut-away deck profile and description of facilities click here.

Presenting a distinctive profile with a pronounced flared bow and cruiser stern, she boasts the classic lines of a vessel nearing 50 years ship. Such ships are increasingly becoming a rare sight on the ocean waves.

She can take 850 passengers accommodated in 450 cabins. Her main dimensions reflect her ocean-going design noting her draft is 8.2m (26.9ft) with a length of 176.3m (578.4ft) and a beam of 23.6m (77.4ft). Crewing is divided between senior officers (international) and cruise staff and entertainers are both British and comprising of other nationalities.

In recent years Marco Polo served the German market but she now is run by Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) on cruises from the UK.  The company also operate the Ocean Countess which first started out her days as Cunard Countess.

Published in Cruise Liners

For the first time two cruiseship giants are scheduled to depart and arrive off Cobh at the same time this May Bank Holiday weekend, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The largest cruiseship to call to an Irish port the Independence of the Sea which weighs 154,407 gross tonnes (some 6,000 tonnes larger than the liner Queen Mary 2) will pass the Cobh-berthed Celebrity Eclipse of 122,000 tonnes around 14.00hrs on Sunday.

Weather permitting the Independence of the Seas will then be maneuvering in the swinging basin between Haulbowline and Cobh, just upriver of the Celebrity Eclipse which will then begin to pull away from the deepwater berth at the Cobh Cruise Terminal.

The 350m long berth has a quayside depth of 9m and is capable of handling some of the largest cruiseships on this island.

Prior to Sunday's sailing spectacle the Celebrity Eclipse is due to dock tomorrow afternoon for the overnight call. Likewise the 4,375 passenger Independence of the Seas will stay at Cobh for an overnight call and then depart's on Monday evening.

“Two such large cruise liners, have never before been in Cork Harbour at the same time, let alone pass each other creating a magnificent sight. An excellent viewing point for anyone planning on visiting Cobh on Sunday 1st May would be the High Road or Whitepoint in Cobh” said Port of Cork Commercial Manager, Captain Micheal McCarthy.

Together the cruiseships will have a combined gross tonnage of nearly 300,000 tonnes and they will bring 10,000 passengers and crew into the Cork region this weekend alone. Celebrity Eclipse is operated by Celebrity Cruises and the Independence of the Seas is run by Royal Caribbean International.

The 3,129 passenger Celebrity Eclipse made her 'maiden' cruise and port of call to Cobh last year following her high profile repatriation voyage from Spain with stranded UK tourists arising from the fallout of the Icelandic volcanic ash-cloud.

On that inaugural ocasion the Celebrity Eclipse which cost €500m became the 500th cruise caller to the Port of Cork where the vessel made an overnight call at Cobh. To see a time-lapse video marking the 500th cruiseship's arrival click here.

Published in Cruise Liners
Cruise Ireland, the marketing group promoting Ireland as a cruise destination; has announced that the overall economic contribution of the cruise business is estimated to be worth €60 million to the island of Ireland. On average there are over 200 cruise calls to Ireland per year carrying approximately half a million passengers and crew.

There are many indirect economic and tourism benefits to Ireland from this sector, as well as the benefit of introducing Ireland to new markets and business opportunities. Such cruise visits also help to showcase Ireland's world class shore products, destinations and highlights all that Ireland has to offer visitors.

One of Ireland's advantages is the strategic and geographic spread of its numerous ports, many of which are in close proximity to world class tourism destinations.

Speaking at Seatrade Miami this week, the Chairman of Cruise Ireland, Mr Brendan Keating said "Cruise Ireland aims to promote the island of Ireland as an excellent cruising ground for cruise companies. With the total economic contribution of €60 million, we need to ensure that Ireland maintains this level of business and looks at methods of growing it in the future."

He continued; "Cruise Ireland is looking forward to the 2011 season with confidence. We expect to see further growth in ship calls and the continued establishment of Ireland as an important cruise liner destination. Marketing Cruise Ireland at Seatrade will hopefully encourage further cruise bookings to Ireland in 2012 and 2013."

Representatives from Cruise Ireland attended Seatrade Miami to promote the Island of Ireland as a cruise line tourism destination. This event is attended by over 10,000 delegates, cruise line operators, the world's leading cruise tourism destinations and 118 countries.

Each year, all of the international operators including Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Holland America Line and NCL visit Irish ports to access Ireland's world class destinations.

The 2011 season will kick off in early April with calls by the MV Queen Victoria to Cork, the MV Boudicca to Dublin and the MV Ocean Nova to Belfast

Published in Cruise Liners

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