Cork Port is expected to take advantage of a lack of space in Dublin Port for large cruise ships when Brexit forces authorities in the capital to handle increased amounts of freight and cargo.
Transport Minister Shane Ross described a decision by Dublin Port to significantly reduce its intake of cruise ships in the next two years as a “temporary blip”.
But the port's decision has triggered frustration among tourism services and cruise companies, especially if the €50m annual industry is damaged.
In the Dáil, Mr Ross said he was keen to reduce any adverse impacts on tourism.
He said Dublin Port authorities had briefed him about its priorities for Brexit and the need for extra cargo space.
“Given space constraints, it was explained that cruise berths will have to be limited for a period from 2021 onwards to allow this construction work to take place, while ensuring the port can continue to handle large cargo volumes,” the minister explained.
"It is expected the period of disruption will be two to three years and will impact on three cruise seasons."
While the cruise culls were “regrettable”, Dublin Port intended to build cruise calls back up to 150 ships for the 2024-2025 season, TDs were told.
However, other ports are expected to take advantage of the changes.
Mr Ross added: “While Dublin Port is important in attracting cruise liners to Ireland through Dublin, the benefits that accrue to other ports around our coast are significant.
“In the meantime, Cobh continues as a dedicated cruise berth and will remain so post-Brexit.
The Port of Cork is working with Belfast Harbour to see if it can take some of the additional business which may be lost as a result of Dublin Port's infrastructural works.
"In addition, Fáilte Ireland continues to support the development and promotion of the cruise tourism sector.”
Thereported recently that tourism services had labelled Dublin Port's decision to curtail the use of its facilities by cruise ships and to axe turnarounds for liners in future years, as a “massive blow” nationwide.
The fear is cruise liners will choose other European destinations.
Suppliers here are anxious, given 150 cruise ships come into Dublin Port annually with over 200,000 visitors.
Fianna Fáil's Robert Troy queried what could be done to minimise cruise liner disruption.
Mr Ross said tourism services, port authorities and others would meet in the next two weeks over concerns.