The number of passengers on cruise ships visiting Cork broke the 100,000 figure for the first time ever last year.
New figures on port traffic show a total of 102,217 tourists arrived at the cruise ship terminal in Cobh and deepwater berth at Ringaskiddy during 2015.
The 22% growth in number of cruise ship visitors helped Cork to overtake Dublin for the first time in terms of tourist numbers.
Figures published by the Central Statistics Office recorded 101,400 visitors on board 93 cruise ship stopovers in the capital last year.
It represented a 4% increase in passenger numbers for Dublin.
A total of 57 cruise liners docked in Cork last year — up five on 2014 figures.
The Port of Cork estimated it can increase its cruise business to 75 visits by liners each year over the next three years.
A major upgrading of the terminal for liners in Cobh is expected to provide a major boost for Cork as a destination for cruise ships.
The €1.5m refurbishment of the facilities in the harbour town will allow the terminal to accommodate even larger vessels.
Capt Michael McCarthy, the Port of Cork commercial manager, said larger liners or ‘Quantum’ class ships can now be accommodated without any restrictions.
A total of 58 liners are expected to have visited the port during 2016 with predictions that visitor numbers will again break through the six-figure barrier.
It is estimated the visits of such cruise liners contribute around €4m annually to the local economy.
The Caribbean Princess, with almost 3,600 passengers on board, is due to arrive in Cobh tomorrow evening. After Cork and Dublin, Waterford was the third most popular destination in Ireland for visiting cruise ships in 2015.
Over 15,500 visitors on board 18 vessels stopped off in Waterford last year — an annual increase in passenger numbers of 52%.
Overall across all ports, the number of passengers on cruise ships visiting Ireland reached almost 250,000 with other ports including Dún Laoghaire, Galway, Killybegs, Foynes and Bantry Bay.
A total of 241,872 tourists on such vessels were recorded last year — an annual increase of over 39,000 or 19% — and the highest level ever.
The number of cruise ships visiting Ireland in 2015 was 193 — up 16 on 2014.
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