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Displaying items by tag: Wild Atlantic Way

#NewFastFerry- The newest and largest fastferry between Doolin and the Aran Islands has recently begun operations with reduced sailings times by half, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Introduction of Doolin Express is a major advancement in the upgrade of the fleet for Co. Clare based operators Doolin Ferry. The company earlier this year announced the fastest crossings between Doolin and Inis Oírr, the nearest of the Aran Islands to the mainland.

By spending the day taking in the charms of Inis Oírr there is also on the return trip a stunning cruise under the world famous Cliffs of Moher as part of the Wild Atlantic Way. This is the operators most popular cruise option.

Doolin Express is a boost to services having increased capacity of a single ferry of just 100 passengers to the fastferry's 200. The travel experience of Doolin Express also brings passengers in greater comfort given a state of the art electronic stabilising system. This on board technology is to assist passengers that are prone to motion sickness.

In addition to the fastferry improving efficiencies, the newcomer will work towards meeting the operator’s sustainability and environmental goals.

Published in Ferry

#MidSizeShip - Astor which at 20,000 tonnes is termed as a mid-sized cruiseship called to Dublin Port today having made a cruise along the Wild Atlantic Way, writes Jehan Ashmore.

A pilot cutter in Dublin Bay came alongside Astor that had sailed overnight from Killybegs. The cruiseship made a leisurely late morning arrival in the port at around 11.30hrs. This compared to the routine majority of dawn arrival calls and mostly undertaken by considerably larger cruiseships. 

The Astor was allocated a berth next to the Tom Clarke (East-Link) toll-bridge from where motorist commuters this evening will be able to glimpse the handsome looking vessel until departing at 19.30hrs. Cobh is the next port of call and so the Cork Harbour cruise berth will almost complete a full circumnavigation of the island since Astor called to Bantry on Tuesday.

The 600-only capacity cruiseship with its stylish funnel casing design is operated by German operator Transocean and UK based partner Cruise & Maritime Voyages. Early next month CMV's soon to be replaced flagship Magellen is to make a call to Dublin from Newport. The south Wales port is not normally associated with the cruise sector however Magellan is to make an overnight call. 

As for Astor, here's a brief description of facilities. Asides the expected wide range of dinging options, there is a library, card room, internet café and a shopping arcade featuring a boutique, jeweller and perfumery. There is the Wellness Centre offering hairdressing and beauty treatments, an indoor swimming pool, ocean view gym, sauna and massage facilities.

Apart from Bantry Bay from where another smaller ship Serenissima recently opened the season at west Cork location, Astor also headed into the Shannon Estuary to Foynes. Notably the mid-west port is infrequently used by the cruise sector despite its accessible deep waterway. 

A sister of Astor, Saga Pearl II but operating for Saga Cruises has also offered cruisegoers to experience less well known ports and or are less accessible to larger deep drafted ships. In the case of Saga Pearl II a call was made to Warrenpoint and given its location requires a passage up Carlingford Lough presenting a mountainous coastal backdrop. The call to the Co. Down port was the first ever by a cruiseship and this took place in 2014.

Also further along the Down coast is another beauty spot, Strangford Lough, where the aforementioned Serenissima called to Portaferry yesterday. This call by Serenissima Cruises follows their opening of the cruise season in Dun Laoghaire Harbour on Wednesday.

Fred Olsen have also offered cruisegoers in recent years to visit less well explored ports in Irish and UK waters among them Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria. More of their mid-sized cruiseships will be seen throughout Irish waters as the season begins to get busier this month. 

Published in Cruise Liners

#ValentiaFerry - There are concerns over the future of the Valentia Island carferry service as the vessel of more than 50 years will no longer meet marine safety requirements, reported RTE Six One News.

Islanders of the Co. Kerry island say that tourism would collapse if State funding is not met to fund a replacement ferry that is expected to cost in the region of €3 million. The figure is beyond the reach of the island community, however the operator of the ferry, Valentia Island Ferries say they can contribute €1m but they are seeking State assistance for the remaining €2m.

The service linking Reenard on the mainland to Knightstown on Valentia Island only takes seven minutes, was established by five island families in 1996. Richard Foran of Valentia Island Ferries said that last year they carried 100,000 cars and that represented around 250,000 passengers.

While the island can be accessed by a bridge on the western end, the islanders and tourist alike benefit from the ferry service that reduces the distance to Cahersiveen by 13 miles. The loop created is according to the islanders essential to the Skellig Ring and the Wild Atlantic Way.

Published in Island News

#SkelligRing - The Skellig Ring in Co Kerry features in Lonely Planet’s top 10 regions for globetrotters to explore on 2017.

“Ireland’s most charismatically wild and emerald stretch of coastline,” as the popular travel guide’s Best in Travel report puts it, rounds out a list that includes such breathtaking destinations as French Polynesia, Chilean Patagonia, mountainous New Zealand and the Azores.

And unsurprisingly, the biggest draw to this corner of the Wild Atlantic Way is the majestic Skellig Michael, set for another bumper tourism year in 2017 on the back of its inclusion in the new Star Wars movie series.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#MarineWildlife - Sightings of the deadly Portuguese man o’ war along the West Coast have prompted calls for caution among coastal users, especially surfers and other beachgoers.

TheJournal.ie yesterday reported that as many as 15 of the toxic sea organisms that resemble jellyfish had been spotted on various beaches in Co Mayo and Co Clare.

Further sightings have been made along the Wild Atlantic Way as far south as Co Kerry and as far north as Donegal, according to The Irish Times, which carries Dr Tom Doyle’s warning for the public to steer clear of any specimens they might discover washed up on the shore.

The marine biologist with NUI Galway’s Ryan Institute emphasised that the creatures harbour seriously painful stings in their blue tentacles that have even killed three people worldwide.

Published in Marine Wildlife

#SeaStack - A famous sea stack off the Co Mayo coast has been climbed for the first time in more than 25 years, as Independent.ie Travel reports.

At the end of August, Iain Miller and his climbing partner Paulina Kaniszewska reached the top of Dún Briste, off Downpatrick Head, in what was the third attempt by the former to summit the 50m rock.



One of the more breathtaking spots along the Wild Atlantic Way, it's also considered a particularly dangerous climb that should only be attempted by experts.

But for Miller, the rewards for scaling the summit of a place that has seen fewer visitors on record than men on the moon were more than he could put into words.

Independent.ie Travel has more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#WildAtlanticWay - Minister of State for Tourism Patrick O’Donovan has announced almost €1.125 million in funding from Fáilte Ireland’s Capital Grants Allocation for two key projects along the Wild Atlantic Way.

A grant of is being made available to Galway County Council will receive €896,000 for the Connemara Greenway, while a grant of €225,000 is being allocated to the Office of Public Works (OPW) towards the first phase of development of new visitor facilities on Great Blasket Island.

“I am delighted to announce these grants today as these two important tourism attractions will provide a serious contribution to the future success of the Wild Atlantic Way," said the minister last Wednesday (13 July).

"Tourism moves in a very competitive global market and capital development is one means by which we can ensure that we are fighting fit to win a good portion of overseas visitors and, thereby, gain a return on this investment through increased revenue and jobs regionally.”

The grant for the Connemara Greenway will fund a new section of the route from Cloonbeg to Athry, running adjacent to Ballynahinch Castle, with a view to completion in May 2017.

This development is part of a wider plan for the Clifden to Oughterard Greenway that will link up with the planned Greenway from Galway city to Oughterard – ultimately resulting in a 78km Galway to Clifden Greenway offering a cycling experience from city to coast with international appeal for cycling enthusiasts.

The Blasket Centre, meanwhile, is located on the Wild Atlantic Way at the halfway point of the Slea Head Drive on the Dingle Peninsula. It was developed as a heritage and visitor centre honouring the unique community who lived on the remote Blasket Islands until 1953.

Currently there are no visitor facilities on the island but the new grant will assist the OPW in their overall development of the site by funding new facilities and services on the island, expected to be completed later this summer.

“These grants are an investment in the visitor experience on the ground," said Fáilte Ireland chief executive Shaun Quinn. "While the Wild Atlantic Way has been warmly received at home and abroad, it is still an evolving project. It is vital that we continue to invest in the project to ensure that we open up its full potential.

"We have great natural landscapes along the west coast but we must also ensure that we have top class tourism infrastructure, whether facilities or interpretation, to match them.”

Minister O’Donovan also recently launched a new Fáilte Ireland Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects, which will provide a pool of €65 million in investment to develop new, or boost existing, tourism experiences and attractions across Ireland.

The scheme, which will run from 2016-2020, is now open for applications from the public, private and voluntary sectors including community groups. Under the scheme, capital grants in excess of €200,000 and up to a maximum of €5 million will be available.

Published in Aquatic Tourism

#CoastalNotes - Donegal's history and relationship with the coastline are celebrated by a new coastal trail launched earlier this month.

As the Donegal Democrat reports, a special training programme has been developed for business owners and others along the new Atlantic Coastal Trail to "teach the people of this county to be proud of the story of Donegal", in the words of Údarás na Gaeltachta's Meadbh Seoige.

The Gaeltacht authority is one of a number of partners in the initiative to promote the county's "maritime leisure and seafood experiences" as highlighted by Donegal Cathaoirleach Terence Slowey.

"We’re working on where we fall short in visitor numbers," explained Donegal County Council chief executive Seamus Neely. "One statistic is that as little as 12% of tourists who visit the Wild Atlantic Way actually travel north of Galway city."

The Donegal Democrat has much more on the story HERE.

Published in Coastal Notes

#WildAtlanticWay - Virtual reality views of some of the top destinations and attractions along the Wild Atlantic Way are now online, showcasing Ireland like it's never been seen before.



As previously reported on Afloat.ie, the 360-degree virtual tours were launched by Fáilte Ireland at the ITB Berlin travel fair in March, and promised an immersive experience for users of new VR gadgets like the Samsung VR and Oculus Rift.

But anyone with a smartphone and an inexpensive attachment like Google Cardboard can also explore the full list of breathtaking activities that includes surfing beneath the Cliffs of Moher and sea stack climbing at Donegal's Slieve League, according to the Irish Examiner.



The virtual reality videos can even be viewed on any computer desktop – simply click and drag on the screen as the videos play to see the sights from all angles.

The 360-degree virtual tours launch comes as news emerges that only a fraction of potential visitors to Ireland are aware of the Wild Atlantic Way.

Just 7% of tourists surveyed by Fáilte Ireland new of the initiative promoting the attractions of Ireland's Atlantic coast, according to Galway Bay FM – with officials promising to improve this figure to 20% amid calls for more towns along the route, like Salthill in Galway, to highlight their place on the map.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
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#WildAtlanticWay - Very soon potential visitors to Ireland will be able to see the Wild Atlantic Way like it's never been seen before – in virtual reality.

Independent.ie reports on the new Fáilte Ireland initiative, launched at the ITB Berlin travel fair earlier this week, to provide 360-degree virtual tours of some of Ireland's most breathtaking coastal sites.

Users of brand-new virtual reality gadgets like the Samsung VR and the Oculus Rift will be able to fully immerse themselves in attractions such as cycling across the wilds of the Burren, or surfing at the foot of the Cliffs of Moher.

But the experience won't be limited to early adopters of technology, as the VR video tours will also be available on YouTube for anyone with a computer to explore at the click of a mouse.

Independent.ie has more on the story HERE.

Published in Aquatic Tourism
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