Port of Cork eyes €10m deepwater quay for bigger liners

The Port of Cork has confirmed it is carrying out a feasibility study into building a new €10m deepwater quay in Cobh to cater for increasingly bigger cruise liners.

The port authority plans to significantly increase the number of cruise liner visits to Cork in the next five years and wants to concentrate all berthing in Cobh, rather than have some liners docked in Ringaskiddy.

Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said the newer cruise vessels coming off the production line were Quantum Class and held nearly double the number of passengers of conventional liners.

In the interim, he said that plans are being drawn up to improve the current cruise line berth in Cobh to cater for the bigger vessels.

“We will be upgrading the current quay from 2015 by putting in planning permission for more bollards which will take the mooring ropes of the bigger liners,” Capt McCarthy said.

However, he added that the longer-term solution was the creation of an additional deepwater quay.

“We’re fortunate that we have enough depth of water in Cobh and will be able to build the second berth in the town centre,” Capt McCarthy said.

The port has a target of 75 cruise liner visits per annum within the next five years.

This year the Port of Cork will welcome 54 cruise ships and despite the number of calls being slightly lower than 2013, the cruise vessels calling in are larger and have higher passenger volumes.

“We have two main objectives over the next five years, to grow the number of cruise calls and increase overnight stays. We are also aiming to handle the new Quantum Class vessels of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and to this affect we are committed to investing in upgrading the current cruise facilities in Cobh,” Capt McCarthy said.

“These ultra large and modern vessels carry almost 5,000 passengers and no other port in Ireland will be able to dock these vessels, giving Cork a greater advantage when attracting new calls.”

He said the trend in the cruise sector is to replace smaller, less efficient vessels with larger, more efficient ones and the Port of Cork anticipates 108,000 passengers and 30,000 crew will visit the Cork region this year.

“Even though the cost of upgrading the current facility in Cobh is very significant, the Port of Cork is committed to the cruise sector due to its considerable financial benefit to the local economy and the Munster region in general.”

It is estimated that the cruise liner business will inject €15m into the local economy this year.

Of this year’s calls, three are maiden visits including Princess Cruise’s newest ship, MV Royal Princess, carrying 3,500 passengers.

This cruise vessel is 330m in length — over three times the length of Thomond Park.

“This is the size and style of ship we hope to continue to attract to Cobh,” Capt McCarthy said.

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