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Within hours of each other two ultra-luxurious vessels departed Dublin Port this morning, firstly the five star-rated cruiseship Hebridean Princess, and then followed the Bikini registered Cary Ali, a private charter mini-motoryacht, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Hebridean Princess, a former 600-passenger car-ferry, converted to carry only 50 guests, reached Carlingford around noon, where she is at anchor off the Co. Louth listed medieval heritage town. On the far side of Ulster, the cross-border waterway on Lough Foyle received two of three scheduled cruise-calls, but bad weather prevented Prisendem from anchoring off Greencastle in July.

As for Cary Ali, she is a 87ft long was built in 2007 by Nordhavn to a design of Jeff Leishman. From her stern flew the flag of the Marshal Islands in the Pacific Ocean. Inside the four-decked vessel there is the main salon, a dining room, galley and three guest staterooms, and a master cabin (click HERE). In total eight people can be accommodated. In addition she has a jacuzzi, fly-bridge and is equipped with a tender and has crew of four.

She has a speed of 24-knots and is equipped with 50hp bow and stern thrusters. To read more about the luxurious motoryacht including facts and figures click HERE.

The Cary Ali had berthed at the 100-berth marina of the Poolbeg Yacht & Boat Club which caters lesiure craft up to 20 metres and is centrally located on the south side of Dublin Port. The facility has accommodated larger motoryachts over the years. Though even larger motoryachts such as Battered Bull, a Feadship 52m has berthed further upriver at Dublin City Moorings.

Published in Cruise Liners
During the weekend call of L.E. Eithne to Galway Harbour, the Naval Service flagship shared the mid-west port with a Spanish oceanographic research vessel (RV) and a cargoship,writes Jehan Ashmore.
The port consists of a single basin named the Dún Aengus Dock where the Vigo registered RV Vizconde de Eza (2000/1,401grt) was berthed. The 53m vessel is run by the 'Secrataria General del Mer' (MARM) which is on an assignment to asses the abundance, estimation and distribution patterns of demersal-benthic species in the Porcupine Abyssal Plain. The port is of also the homeport to the Marine Institute RV vessels and their headquarters based in nearby Oranmore.

Also sharing the basin but located closer to the dock gates was Arklow Shipping Ltd's Dutch registered dry-cargo vessel Arklow Surf (2000/2,316grt). The dock is capable of handling more vessels simultaneously and of course used as a host-port of the high-profile Volvo Ocean Race which is due to return next year.

Galway and neighbouring Limerick City with its Ted Russell Dock, are the only dock-gate accessed ports on the island of Ireland. In the case of Galway there is an exception as freight operations are also available from an outer pier on the seaward side of Dún Aengus Dock though only for domestic purposes. From this pier the dedicated Aran Islands freight service is operated by Lasta Mara TEO's Blath na Mara (1983/330grt). As for Limerick, vessels can also berth outside the dock but they tend to be small port-work related craft that use the outer berth on the Shannon Estuary.

The Galway Harbour Company in recent years have proposed plans for a new outer port, to be built in four stages with a completion date set for 2017. This would enable larger deeper drafted vessels such as tankers and cruiseships to dock in the new port. In the meantime cruiseships anchor off Mutton Island. In addition a freight rail-link, berthing for an inshore fishing fleet and a 216 berth marina are proposed.

To read more about the port proposals visit http://www.galwayharbour.com/news.php?id=11and for aerial visual impressions click HERE.

Published in Galway Harbour
With today's historic Irish rugby victory over Australia, fans of the green jersey, who happen to be on a cruise-ship with Cunard Line or P&O Cruises, will be able to continue watching games of the Rugby World Cup, writes Jehan Ashmore.
One of the ten participating cruise ships, Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth (90,901 gross tonnes) owned by Carnival Corporation, made her maiden 'Irish' call to Dublin Port and Cobh last week, is showing live or recorded games within 24 hours from the original kick-off. This will enable games to be shown at convenient times for the participating cruise ships in their various locations.

A total of 24 matches are being shown, starting from the opening game and will include all four Home Nations' matches, quarter-finals, semi -finals, bronze final and then the final on 23rd October. Of course there will be other fans on board from Wales, Scotland, England and elsewhere watching the fixtures throughout the cruise-ships various sporting bars, pubs and other venues.

Carnival Corporation's UK entertainment services general manager, Paul Wright, said: "The Rugby World Cup is of great interest to many of our passengers and we're pleased that nobody will miss out by being on holiday with us throughout this time. At any one time we could have more than 19,000 passengers collectively on board and rooting for one of the Four Nations to bring home the trophy".

He added: "Most people have a sport that they follow and some times, like on a cruise ship, you won't have access to your favourite sport, which means a lot to fans. On our last cruise on Independence of the Seas, we had popular sports shown in state rooms and certain bars around the ship, of course football was the most common sport shown".

Incidentally Independence of the Seas has also called to Cobh since her Irish debut in 2007 and at 154,407 tonnes is the largest ever cruise-caller to Cork Harbour. She surpasses Cunard Line's flagship Queen Mary 2 of 148,528 tonnes which too berthed at Cobh last Wednesday, four days after Queen Elizabeth's inaugural visit.

Published in Cruise Liners
At 13.07hrs Stena Line's HSS 1500 fast-craft ferry HSS Stena Explorer pulled away from her berth for the last time this year on the Dun Laoghaire Harbour-Holyhead route, as she headed for the harbour mouth several crew members waved from the stern to shore-based colleagues on the link-span, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Only yesterday, sailings on the daily single-round trip operated route had to be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions on the Irish Sea caused by the tail end of Hurricane Katia. The decision with today's closure was made well in advance and comes as no surprise as the Stena Explorer (1996/19,638grt) "has traded at a financial loss for several years" according to her owners Stena Line. Around 53 staff in Dun Laoghaire will be affected by the decision.

The core reason to withdraw the HSS on the 120-minute route which is not to re-open until the 2012 season, rests with the high operating costs of the fuel-thirsty fast-ferry which is powered by four gas-turbine engines. In addition the route's generated most of its turnover during the period May-September, leaving the remaining months unsustainable, as such the company wants the route to be seasonal-only in the long-term.

HSS_Stena_Explorer

HSS Stena Explorer departs Dun Laoghaire Harbour on her final sailing this season. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

Passengers and freight customers will instead need to use the company's other Dublin Bay route between Dublin Port and Holyhead. The 3 hour 15-minute central corridor route is served by two ro-pax vessels, Stena Adventurer (2004/43,532 grt) and Stena Nordica (2000/24,206 grt) which operate to a year-round schedule, for times click HERE.

What is not certain is the precise date for resumption of Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead services as Stena Line have only indicated that they hope to reopen in April or May nor it is outlined as to what type of fast-craft would operate the route next year.

With today's break in service for at least the next six months, this is the most significant absence of the revolutionary HSS (High Speed Sea Service) 1500 fast-ferry which made her official maiden voyage on the route from Dun Laoghaire on 10th April 1996. The only other notable occasions when the HSS was off-service was for the short spells to allow for annual dry-docking, refit, repairs or when the route in recent years was partially operated by Stena Lynx III.

The 1500 referred to the number of passengers the Stena Explorer could accommodate. She was the first of the three Finish-built HSS 1500 catamaran vehicle capable carrying craft to enter service on three routes from the UK. The next sister completed HSS Stena Discovery entered service in the same year between Harwich-Hook van Holland and the final of the trio HSS Stena Voyager entered the Belfast-Stranraer route in 1997. Several years ago the HSS ceased operating on the Dutch route and the HSS currently serving on the North Channel is due to be replaced by conventional ferries in mid-November as previously reported on Afloat.ie, to read more click HERE.

On the Dun Laoghaire-Holyhead service the HSS enjoyed the boom years, and at its peak there were five daily round trips. From 2006 onwards the routes fortunes began to decline due to the ending of duty-free sales, competition from low-cost airlines, and the increasing cost of fuel.

In order to stave off further losses, a series of cost cutting measures were implemented over the next five years. Firstly the sailing frequency was reduced then the passage times were increased to reduce fuel consumption at the expense of faster crossings. In addition the company resorted to withdrawing the Stena Explorer during the shoulder months surrounding the summer and as previously mentioned these sailings were covered by the Stena Lynx III.

When the Stena Explorer returned for the summer months, the Stena Lynx III switched to her normal high-season spell on Rosslare-Fishguard sailings in tandem with regular route vessel Stena Europe. This year she served as usual on the St. Georges Channel route with the last high-season sailing completed on 4 September.

Stena Lynx III remained initially at Fishguard until making a repositioning voyage to Dun Laoghaire via the Kish Lighthouse last Wednesday. She berthed adjacent to the now disused HSS berth link-span on St. Michaels Wharf. The Tasmanian built craft has spent previous winter layover periods in Dublin and last year in Dun Laoghaire whereas the Stena Explorer is expected to do so in her home port of Holyhead.

At the neighbouring Carlisle Pier, the former terminal where numerous steam-packets, 'mailboats' and the conventional Sealink/British Rail car-ferries served (the last being the Stena Adventurer better known as St. Columba built in 1977) there are plans for a national diaspora museum.

The centrepiece landmark building would form as part of the masterplan proposed by the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company as part of a concerted effort to offset the reduced role of ferry operations. The masterplan is also to attract cruiseship business amongst other proposals envisaged.

Published in Ferry
Jewel of the Seas, one of four 90,000 tonnes Radiance Class cruise ships operated by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) departed Dublin Port this evening bound for Cork Harbour, writes Jehan Ashmore.
During the cruisecall of the near 300 metre-long vessel, she took on bunkers from the 70m short-sea coastal tanker Keewhit (2,332dwt) which arrived from Liverpool this morning. The procedure to transfer fuel is relatively commonplace particularly with larger cruiseships calling the capital. To see photo of Keewhit transferring fuel in a similar operation which took place when the Grand Princess visited Dublin earlier this year, click HERE.

The 2,500 passenger Jewel of the Seas has a nine-deck centrum which has glass lifts which allows light to flow throughout the spacious and airy ship. Activities range from golf to climbing, a spa and sumptuous restaurants.

When the 2004 built cruiseship docks at the dedicated cruise berth at Cobh in the early hours of tomorrow she will also be sharing the deepwater berth with the 2001 built Silver Whisper. The ultra-luxury vessel accommodates only 388 passengers and is operated by SilverSeas Cruises. To read more about the vessel click HERE.

Both vessels are scheduled to depart Cobh around teatime tomorrow and this will be followed by preparations of the picturesque town which is to welcome the maiden call to Cobh of Queen Elizabeth on Saturday. To read more about the newest vessel of the Cunard Line fleet click HERE. The 2010 built vessel will firstly make an inaugural call to Dublin on Friday prior to the Cobh call which coincides with Cork Harbour Open Day, for event details visit www.corkharbour.ie

Published in Cruise Liners
With less than a fortnight to go Corkonians and visitors alike can look forward to Cork Harbour Open Day, writes Jehan Ashmore
The Cork Harbour event is take place on Saturday 10 September, and on that morning the newest vessel of the Cunard Line fleet, the Queen Elizabeth is to make her maiden call to Cork following a visit to Dublin. At over 90,000 tonnes, the cruiseship which was named last year by Queen Elizabeth is to dock at Cobh. Visitors will be able to view the impressive vessel from the quayside. To read more facts and figures about the Cunard Line vessel click HERE.

This will be the third Cork Harbour Day which is to cover a wide range of events, such as concerts on Spike Island, a photographic exhibition in Camden Fort, guided tours of an Irish naval ship at Cork City Quays and an open day at the National Maritime College of Ireland (NMCI).

In addition Fastnet Line's ferry Julia will be open for the public to board. The 22,161 gross tonnes serves the Cork-Swansea route and for the Open Day she will be berthed at Ringaskiddy Deepwater Berth instead of the nearby ferry terminal. To read details of Open day programme visit www.corkharbour.ie and updates click HERE.

The concept for the Harbour Open Day emerged three years ago, which combined various stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of the Integrated Strategy for Cork Harbour. A group comprising of representatives from UCC, City and County Councils, the Naval Service and the Port of Cork set about working together to engage with users of the harbour and to organise the Open Day.

Cork Harbour is the second largest natural harbour in the world, next to Sydney Harbour, offering beautiful locations for enjoying the outdoors, dramatic coastlines, and excellent leisure facilities, and is home to some very talented artists, sportsmen and women, and people who are passionate about the history, heritage and cultural value of Cork Harbour.

Published in Cork Harbour
Following the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth to Ireland in May, Cunard Line's newest cruiseship Queen Elizabeth is to make her maiden 'Irish' voyage next month, writes Jehan Ashmore.
In a ceremony held in her home port of Southampton the 2,038 guest capacity /1,100 crew cruiseship was named by Queen Elizabeth in October last year. To watch the naming ceremony click the video.

The 90,901 gross registered tonnes cruise ship is to depart her Hampshire homeport, where she is to similarly follow the monarch in that she is scheduled to make a port of call to Dublin first on 9 September and make a call to Cork afterwards.

With a length of 295m / 965-feet the vessel will dock in the centre of the capital port before she sails overnight to make a morning arrival at Cobh, the dedicated cruise terminal for the Port of Cork. She is scheduled to stay at the Cork Harbour town formerly named Queenstown until a 17.00 hour departure.

Her visit coincides with Cork Harbour Open Day, where visitors can view the impressive vessel from the quayside, for more details visit www.corkharbour.ie

Incidentally her near-sister Queen Victoria also called to Dublin in May and the remaining vessel of the Cunard fleet, the 'flagship' liner Queen Mary 2 is also to dock in Cobh three days later after Queen Elisabeth's visit.

Published in Cruise Liners
Prior to the start of this evening's 'Western Europe Cruise' from Dublin Port of the Azamara Journey, existing cruiseship passengers are exploring the visitor attractions of Trinity College and Powerscourt Gardens in Co. Wicklow, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 30,000 tonnes Azamara Jouney (photo) arrived early this morning from a cruise that had set off from Copenhagen on a Norwegian Fjords and Iceland Cruise. Some of the passengers of the 700-capacity vessel ended their cruise in Dublin today by flying home. As passengers left others arrived mostly from Europe and the United States had flown in to pick up the cruise from Dublin. In addition Irish passengers are boarding the ship which is operated by Azamara Club Cruises.

Tonight's departure is for Holyhead, where the call to Anglesey also covers tours of Snowdonia, the impressive castles of Conwy, Caernarvon and Harlech and a stop to Bodnant. Following the Welsh call she is to visit Cobh. Other calls are to Bordeaux (overnight), Bibao, Gijon,Vigo and the final port of call is Lisbon on 7 September where passengers will remain in their cabins for an overnight stay. The next day there is a scheduled tour of the Gulbenkian Museum, the Jeronimos Monastery and Sintra.

On one-day the ship will spend the entire day at sea which will enable passengers to indulge further of the facilities such as the casino and entertainment in the theatre, for more click HERE. Fares for the Irish passengers of the 10-day cruise/11-day holiday started at €2,062 per person (cruise-only) based on the lowest grade twin cabin. After completion of the cruise in Lisbon they will take a flight to return to Dublin.

Azamara Journey formed part of the eight-strong series commissioned for Renaissance Cruises which collapsed a decade ago. They were built by Chantiers de l'Atlantique in St.Nazaire and were uninspiringly named as R One, R Two etc with the R Six now the re-named Azamara Journey.

As August and the high-season draws to a close that doesn't' stop the cruiseships calling as over twenty more are due in Dublin before the season closes. In total the port this year has handled some 90 cruiseships and 160,000 passengers. A further 65 callers so far are scheduled for 2012.

Published in Cruise Liners
12th August 2011

Big Lips Kiss Dublin Bay

A cruise ship with a difference docked in Dublin Port today, the Aidablu displays a distinctly bold livery scheme of a giant red mouth and eyes emblazoned across the bow, writes Jehan Ashmore.
Towering 15 decks above the oceans, the Italian built 71,300 tonnes vessel berthed at Ocean Pier after an overnight passage from Cobh. Aidablu has a capacity for over 2,000 passengers and 600 crew.The vessel has all the usual expected facilites to be found on a cruiseship but she also has a rather novel attraction, a brewery, the first to be installed on a cruise ship.

She was launched last year from the Meyer Werft shipyard. The 252 m vessel is operated by German operator Aida Cruises and the lips symbol is also the logo used by the company which operates a fleet of seven vessels.

Should you wish to take a closer look of Aidablu, she departs this evening at 21.00hrs and she will head out of Dublin Bay via the North Burford buoy off the Baily Lighthouse bound for Liverpool. The cruise started from Dover and after her visit to Merseyside tommorrow, she will then proceed to Greenock, followed by Invergorden before ending the cruise in Hamburg.  

Published in Cruise Liners
Ireland's leading fishing port of Killybegs, Co. Donegal, this morning received the 226 passenger yacht-like cruiseship Le Diamant, writes Jehan Ashmore.
The 8,282 tonnes Le Diamant had sailed overnight from anchorage in Galway Bay and prior to visiting the 'City of the Tribes' the vessel also called to Foynes port in the Shannon Estuary as reported previously in Afloat.

In 2004 Killybegs received a significant boost in the completion of a €50m outer harbour with berthing quays totalling 350-metres long so to accommodate the north-west fleet and to include the 'supertrawlers'.

Despite the major port infrastructural investment, Killybegs has seen declining fortunes in the fish industry though in recent year's new business from the offshore exploration and cruise ship industries has assisted in generating new revenue.

Published in Cruise Liners
Page 2 of 3

The Half Ton Class was created by the Offshore Racing Council for boats within the racing band not exceeding 22'-0". The ORC decided that the rule should "....permit the development of seaworthy offshore racing yachts...The Council will endeavour to protect the majority of the existing IOR fleet from rapid obsolescence caused by ....developments which produce increased performance without corresponding changes in ratings..."

When first introduced the IOR rule was perfectly adequate for rating boats in existence at that time. However yacht designers naturally examined the rule to seize upon any advantage they could find, the most noticeable of which has been a reduction in displacement and a return to fractional rigs.

After 1993, when the IOR Mk.III rule reached it termination due to lack of people building new boats, the rule was replaced by the CHS (Channel) Handicap system which in turn developed into the IRC system now used.

The IRC handicap system operates by a secret formula which tries to develop boats which are 'Cruising type' of relatively heavy boats with good internal accommodation. It tends to penalise boats with excessive stability or excessive sail area.

Competitions

The most significant events for the Half Ton Class has been the annual Half Ton Cup which was sailed under the IOR rules until 1993. More recently this has been replaced with the Half Ton Classics Cup. The venue of the event moved from continent to continent with over-representation on French or British ports. In later years the event is held biennially. Initially, it was proposed to hold events in Ireland, Britain and France by rotation. However, it was the Belgians who took the ball and ran with it. The Class is now managed from Belgium. 

At A Glance – Half Ton Classics Cup Winners

  • 2017 – Kinsale – Swuzzlebubble – Phil Plumtree – Farr 1977
  • 2016 – Falmouth – Swuzzlebubble – Greg Peck – Farr 1977
  • 2015 – Nieuwport – Checkmate XV – David Cullen – Humphreys 1985
  • 2014 – St Quay Portrieux – Swuzzlebubble – Peter Morton – Farr 1977
  • 2013 – Boulogne – Checkmate XV – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1985
  • 2011 – Cowes – Chimp – Michael Kershaw – Berret 1978
  • 2009 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978
  • 2007 – Dun Laoghaire – Henri-Lloyd Harmony – Nigel Biggs – Humphreys 1980~
  • 2005 – Dinard – Gingko – Patrick Lobrichon – Mauric 1968
  • 2003 – Nieuwpoort – Général Tapioca – Philippe Pilate – Berret 1978

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