Bantry Bay Port Company will hold a cruise seminar in the Maritime Hotel, Bantry on Thursday 29th August 2019 to launch their cruise strategy for Bantry. Entitled ‘Collectively Growing Cruise Tourism in Bantry’ the seminar is aimed at local attractions and businesses in the area and is an opportunity to get an insight into the cruise industry in Ireland and globally and how Bantry can capitalise on this market while remaining sensitive to Bantry harbour and its environs.
The Port of Cork, who control and operate Bantry Bay Port Company has a wealth of experience when it comes to the cruise industry. Since 1990, Cobh has been handling cruise liners with over 100 calls in 2019 and some of the largest vessels visiting.
Bantry Bay Port Company operates as a tender port with no dedicated cruise berth; however, this will not impede Bantry from growing. 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 expedition market, once a small niche, is now set for dramatic growth with 40 or more ships already on order for the 2023 market. Both new entrants and established cruise lines, ranging from Celebrity Cruises to Crystal Cruises, Hapag Lloyd, Hurtigruten, Seabourn Cruise Line and Silversea Cruises, have each announced plans for new expedition cruise ships. This expedition market is all about the experience for passengers on smaller vessels which can easily access remote places that the larger cruise liners cannot.
Port of Cork Chief Executive Brendan Keating said: ‘The destination is the centre stage and the ship is the vehicle to get there. In this case, Bantry is the main attraction and we need to attract the right vessels for passengers to see this beautiful part of the world. However, we (Port of Cork) cannot do it alone and that is why we want to collectively grow this business with the local area and the many exciting attractions and businesses.’
He continued: ‘ As the cruise business in Bantry continues to grow, a wider and united approach with the county council, shore excursion companies, local tourism organisations and attractions is needed to promote the region and the activities which cruise passengers can enjoy during their visit.’
Speaking at the cruise seminar in Bantry will be Conor Mowlds Chairman of Cruise Ireland, Chris Coates Group Commercial Director for Cruise & Maritime Voyages, Derry Cronin Specialised Travel Services, Michael McCarthy Chairman of Cruise Europe and Michael Pat Murphy and Assistant Harbour Master Bantry Bay Port Company.
In 2019, Bantry handled 10 cruise liner calls bringing over 8,000 passengers and crew. In 2020 there are 14 calls with some repeat visitors and maiden calls expected.
Councillors in west Cork say they fear that Dublin Port’s decision to reduce the number of cruise ships by 50% between 2021 and 2023 could have a negative affect on cruise tourism in West Cork.
The issue writes The Southern Star was raised at a Western Division meeting of Cork County Council by Cllr Declan Hurley (Ind) who said the port’s decision was based on the fact that freight business is proving more profitable for the company.
This year, Cllr Hurley said: ‘Dublin Port is to receive 160 cruise liners, but the number will reduce to 36 large and 18 small liners by the year 2021.’
The councillor said cruise tourism is directly worth €560,000 to the West Cork economy and he suggested that every effort should be made to preserve and promote it.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said Cllr Hurley’s motion, which called on the Council to protect its investment in cruise tourism, was ‘timely.’
Read here on what the councillor had to say on the issue and more.
#CruiseLiners - A big cruiseship by Banty Bay standards involved notably a maiden call visit today to the scenic west Cork anchorage, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The megayacht-like Seabourn Quest of 32,000 tonnes had yesterday called to Cobh, Cork Harbour, before making an arrival in Bantry Bay this morning. To mark the maiden call, a reception was held on board where the harbourmaster of Bantry Bay Port Company and Bantry Business Assocation exchanged gifts with the ship's master.
Operating at the high-end of the luxury cruise-sector, Seabourn Quest has a guest capacity for only 498 passengers. The sleek twin-funnelled Seabourn Quest whose godmother is the English fashion icon and actress Twiggy, entered service in 2011. The ship regarded as a game -changer at the top end of the market was built by Italian yard of T. Mariotti yard in Genoa.
The operators claim the Spa at Seabourn is the largest on any ultra-luxury ship, at 11,400 square feet which encompasses both indoor and outdoor spaces spread over two decks.
Only Prinsendam of Holland America Line eclipses the current caller to the West Cork destination in terms of tonnage, at 39,000 tonnes. The cruiseship according to the port's website had made a call in May.
In total, 10 cruise callers are scheduled to call to Bantry Bay this season, though not all cruiseships will take anchorage off Bantry where five are planned before the season ends in September. Equally the same number of callers will by the end of season, anchor off neighbouring Glengariff with its attractions, among them Garnish Island.
The next port of call for Seabourn Quest is Foynes, where the Shannon estuary port is a more unusual destination to receive cruiseships.
Mechanical harvesting of sub-tidal seaweed was set to begin today (Wednesday 4 July) in Bantry Bay.
Operations by BioAtlantis Aquamarine Ltd, using the Atlantis Explorer (Callsugn EIPQ2) are expected to continue for the duration of the licence until 2024. Harvesting will take place in Areas A, B, C, D and E of the licence area, details of which are included in Marine Notice No 29 of 2018, available to read or download HERE.
The harvesting operations are proceeding despite a High Court challenge to the project by a number of environmental groups, according to The Irish Times.
The High Court has granted a judicial review of the licence awarded in November last year, and opposed by the Bantry Bay - Save Our Kelp Forests group, among others, for its alleged potential to “irreversible damage to the ecosystem and businesses of the Bantry Bay area”.
The Irish Times has more on the story HERE.
#Tallships - A pair of ships, one a Danish trainee tallship, the other a former Norwegian 'Hurtigruten' coastal passenger/cargoship but trading now as a cruiseship, are anchored closely to each other off Bantry, Co. Cork today, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The tallship is Danmark, which provides 80 trainees to learn sailing skills from MARTEC- the maritime and polytechnic college based in the Nordic country's cityport of Frederikshavn.
For the past 75 years, Danmark has been the principal training ship for the state of Denmark. From 2003, the operation of the trainee ship transferred to MARTEC, however the vessel still remains as state property. A major refit of the berth decks took place just over a decade ago, this led to an upgrade of the teaching facilities and the installation of air-conditioning.
The other Bantry Bay anchored ship, Serenissima, is a small luxury expedition cruiseship that once plied on the famous Norwegian 'Hurtigruten' coastal fjords voyage when named the Harald Jarl.
Since 2003, the role of the the ship changed having been sold to become the 59 cabin capacity cruiseship Andrea but now trades as Serenissima for Noble Caledonia. They deployed the 160 passenger cruiseship to Irish ports among them Dun Laoghaire Harbour where a call was made last season.
Serenissima had called to the same berth where the Frederikshavn registered Stena Carrier in recent weeks occupied the Carlisle Pier. The pier provided the venue last Sunday for the Red Bull Flug-Tag event that saw handmade aircraft attempted to take off!
The Danmark's trainee season schedule for 2018 is currently operating Voyage no. 105. According to MARTEC, trainees began attending the maritime sea-craft skills school in January, and by March the ship departed the waters of Scandinavia bound for Cadiz, Spain.
The tallship's last port of call was Ponta Delgada. This is the capital on São Miguel Island, part of the Azores archipelago of Portugal.
Danmark was commissioned by the ship's namesake government in 1932 at the Nakskov Shipyard in Lolland and was fitted out as a three mast full-rig ship. The decision of this rig was seen as the most complex and therefore demanding to keep most hands busy when the ship entered service the following year.
For many years, all officer apprentices from major Danish shipping companies joined a mandatory training voyage.
In 1939, Danmark visited the United States to participate in the World’s Fair held in New York City. The outbreak of hostilities of WWII however on the other side of the Altantic, forced the ship to stay in US waters to avoid the Germans capturing the vessel.
During the war, Danmark was based in Jacksonville, Florida. It was after the attack on Pearl Harbor, that the captain offered the ship to the U.S. government for the continued purposes as a training vessel. The offer was accepted which led to the ship spending the rest of the war by training cadets at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
This role in the USCG would remain until 1946 when the Danmark was returned unharmed, resulting in resuming training duties for the Scandinavian state.
Carrying more than 800 passengers, MS Prinsendam arrived in the early hours of the morning and will stay until evening ensuring their passengers get every opportunity to explore the region.
Speaking about the arrival of MS Prinsendam to Bantry, Bantry Bay Port Company Harbour Master Captain Paul O’Regan said, “We are very encouraged by Holland American Lines commitment to call to Bantry. This is an exciting time for the whole of West Cork as we aim to grow this cruise business considerably over the next few years.
“We have the experience and professionalism within the Port of Cork of what needs to be achieved to grow the cruise business here, and Bantry Bay Port Company is fully committed. The unique selling point with Bantry is to attract the smaller boutique cruises or expedition cruises which can access smaller ports and harbour, meaning their passengers can benefit from a richer experience onshore.”
For more on this story click here.
#CoastalNotes - While Bantry Bay prepares to open up as a maritime hub for Ireland’s South West, local coastal residents are expressing concern over the first State licence for the mechanical harvesting of seaweed.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Kerry-based BioAtlantis secured the licence after a five-year application process — but now faces growing opposition from local communities, many of which have hand-harvested seaweed for hundreds of years, who claim lack of consultation over the plans.
Pantry resident Deirdre Fitzgerald said the issue only came to wider public attention earlier this year, when an episode of RTÉ One’s Eco Eye detailed the planned harvest of nearly 2,000 acres of kelp forest.
“We have white tailed eagles resident in the bay, whales, dolphins, seals, otters, and so many bird species that rely on this bay for food,” she told the Irish Examiner. “What will be the impact on juvenile fish as a food source for all these species once this kelp is removed from the bay?”
However, BioAtlantis chief executive John T O’Sullivan said “everything was done by the book” in relation to its application process. The Irish Examiner has much more on this story HERE.
In other coastal news, objectors to Galway Bay’s marine energy test site have questioned the legality of the foreshore lease application, pointing out that a number of key documents were not included, according to the Connacht Tribune.
The same newspaper also reports on claims of “outrageous” public expenditure on the now-shelved Galway Bay fish farm project, a controversial scheme that cost the State more than half a million euro.
Bantry Bay is one of this island’s greatest maritime resources and is about to be opened up with a new marina very close to the centre of the town. Twenty-two miles long from its entrance and with 22 slipways and launching areas, plus a couple of islands, this can be a cruising mecca.
The Port of Cork Company which took over Bantry Harbour from the previous local harbour authority, has spent €9.5m. on the development of facilities there, turning the old pier area into a more extensive commercial facility, improving depth of access and providing in the inner harbour, a new marina. The development will operate under the aegis of the Bantry Bay Port Company.
All of this promises a new future for the harbour and Bantry as a maritime hub, not only for the leisure sailor, but for angling, fishing, other maritime activities and attracting more cruise ship visits by the improve facilities. The marina will provide 30/40 berths dependent upon size of vessel, dredged to a depth of 4 metres.
On this week’s THIS ISLAND NATION PODCAST, Cork and Bantry Harbour Master, Captain Paul O’Regan, outlines the development to me. I started by observing that nine-and-a-half million Euros was a big financial commitment to Bantry.
New navigation buoys have been installed at the entrance to Lawrence Cove, near the village of Rerrin on Bere Island, one of the most sheltered harbours in Bantry Bay on Ireland's South–West coast.
A marina at Lawrence Cove is located opposite the fishing port of Castletownberehaven at the North side of Bere Island. Lawrence Cove Marina is the only fully serviced marina between Kinsale and Cahirciveen making it an important stop–over location for cruising yachts.
Bantry Bay Port Company has launched its first Schools Initiative for 2016 aimed at 5th class primary schools.
The initiative theme ‘A Day in the Life of a Cruise Passenger Visiting Bantry Harbour’ is aimed at encouraging school children to explore the tourism aspect of Bantry harbour and all the wonderful visitor attractions to see and enjoy in the West Cork region.
Tourism plays a vital role in Bantry Bay Port Company’s business with a number of small cruise liners visiting the harbour each year. These cruise passengers and crew visit West Cork during the summer months, bringing a welcome economic tourism contribution to the region.
All 5th classes who participate in the Bantry Bay Port Company’s initiative will be invited on a boat trip around beautiful Garnish Island, compliments of Bantry Bay Port Company. An award will also be given for ‘Best Artwork Piece’ and each participating class and teacher will receive a Class Certificate of Participation.
Captain Paul O’Regan, Bantry Bay Port Company Harbour Master said: “We are excited to be launching our Bantry Bay Port Company Schools Initiative. The initiative is a great way for primary school children to learn about the history of Bantry port and the role it plays in the region. The theme this year relates to cruise tourism and this is an area Bantry Bay Port Company will be aiming to increase in the coming years.’
He continued: ‘Many local families are involved in tourism either directly or indirectly and so it’s important that children understand tourism and the business it generates for the region. We hope our initiative will make learning fun for the school children.’
Projects must contain a high level of visual content and can contain photographs as well as artwork. The creativity of each project will be taken into account when being judged as well as visual impact, originality, content and presentation. Bantry Bay Port Company will provide each participating school with a piece of ply-wood 2ft x 2ft and this must be used for the project. Closing date for submissions is Friday 6th May 2016. All submitted projects will go on public display in Bantry during the summer months.
To register your primary school or for further information, please visit the Bantry Bay Port Company website