The Cork region stands on the cusp of a golden opportunity to showcase itself as a cruise destination par excellence, the Port of Cork has said as the first cruise liner in almost 30 years sailed into Bantry Bay.
Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said a burgeoning global cruise industry along with security fears in the Mediterranean and Middle East meant there was huge opportunity for Cork to firmly establish itself among the elite cruise destinations of the world.
The MS Prinsendam owned by Holland America Lines made its maiden call to Bantry Bay, Co Cork, yesterday for the first visit of a cruise liner to Bantry in almost 30 years.
Carrying more than 800 passengers, MS Prinsendam arrived in the early hours of the morning and stayed until evening, allowing passengers to disembark and visit West Cork — a crucial aspect for future land tourism, said Mr McCarthy.
Bantry Bay Port Company will officially open the new inner harbour development in August which has seen an investment of €9.5m over the last year. This facility will enhance marine tourism activity in the area and will also aid in accommodating future cruise calls, according to the Port of Cork.
The Port of Cork has 65 calls this year, with about 160,000 passengers and crew expected to visit the city and county between March and November. Bantry was transferred to the Port of Cork in 2014.
Mr McCarthy said: “We now have a golden opportunity to showcase the entire region from Cobh to Bantry and beyond. Cruise companies throughout the world are looking at new routes and there are dozens of new ships coming onstream between now and 2025. The new route exploration is driven by factors including security fears in the Mediterranean.”
He added: “Cobh, Bantry, and Glengarriff can capitalise on the appetite for new routes and for visitors who may have thought West Cork as too far in the past, it is now opened right up to the likes of the Beara Peninsula, Clonakilty, and Skibbereen. The onus is on us to then tempt visitors back to Ireland for a land holiday. We have a long-term plan for Bantry and feel it has a very exciting future in the sector.”
There will be eight cruise liners calling to the West Cork area this summer with Bantry Harbour and Glengarriff able to accommodate the smaller boutique cruise liners. 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.”
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