Bid to cater for bigger cruise ships in Cobh

The Port of Cork is seeking planning permission for a €1.5m deep-water pontoon and access bridges to cater for bigger cruise liners arriving in Cobh.

The port authority has applied to Cork County Council for the facility, which it hopes to have completed by next April — the start of the annual cruise season.

Port of Cork commercial manager captain Michael McCarthy said it was imperative that it built facilities to handle the new generation of cruise liners.

“The current berth can handle ships like Celebrity Eclipse and Royal Independence of the Seas, which are up to 330-340 metres in length. The next generation, such as the Quantum of the Seas, will be longer and will carry nearly 4,000 passengers,” he said.

This year the biggest vessel visiting the port will be the Royal Princess, which arrives in Cobh next month.

“We already have 17 ships of that size booked so far for this year. The trend into the future will be a smaller number of bigger ships, and this will benefit the Cork region,” Capt McCarthy said.

He said that of the 30 ships due to be delivered to cruise line companies next year, the vast majority will be over 300 metres in length.

“The reason this is happening is that it introduces econonies of scale for the cruise line companies. It also means that more passengers will be disembarking in Cobh in the years ahead and it will have the positive, knock-on effect of more passenger-spend in the Cork region,” he said.

By the time this year’s cruise season ends, it’s expected that up to 108,000 passengers will have disembarked at the Cobh terminal.

Captain McCarthy said this figure will undoubtedly increase in the years ahead.

“Already, the projections for 2016 are very positive for the arrival of larger ships from the Carnival corporation and Royal Caribbean, and in the next five to six years we expect to see a noticeable increase in passengers,” Capt McCarthy said.

He said that subject to planning permission being granted, it was hoped to start work on the new berth to have it ready for April.

Port of call

-Passengers disembarking from a German cruise ship will receive a special welcome in West Cork today as part of a Cork County Council initiative to attract more liners to the region.

A number of “tourism ambassadors” will greet Amadea’s 400-plus passengers when she docks in Glengarriff, to inform them what’s on offer in the area, while a team of musicians will be at the pier to entertain those disembarking.

The council is hoping to encourage more cruise tourism for the region and is carrying out today’s special greeting in conjunction with Bantry Tourism.

Amadea passengers will board coaches to visit Bantry House, Garnish Island and the Beara Peninsula.

Assistant county manager James Fogarty said that by working with the local community, it’s hoped to create memorable experiences for visiting ship’s passengers.

“We hope this would set it apart as a port of call and give Glengarriff an edge over other ports that are competing to attract this valuable business. Positive passenger feedback about a port is one of the considerations that goes into determining a cruise ship’s itinerary.

“We urge the people and businesses of Glengarriff to extend a warm welcome to our visitors and come out and join in the festivities,” Mr Fogarty said.

The arrangements being put in place for the Amadea will be extended to other ships due to call to Glengarriff over the remainder of the season.

- Sean O’Riordan

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