Cobh is gearing up for further ‘big ship’ visits, including Wednesday’s maiden call of Britain’s largest cruise liner, P&O Cruises’ Britannia, which will arrive with 3,647 passengers and 1,350 crew.
The ‘Australia Day’ welcome is being organised by Cobh Tourism, whose members will be pulling out all the stops to ensure the ‘Down Under’ visitors have a day to remember when they disembark from the Sea Princess tomorrow.
Australia Day next Tuesday in Cobh town centre! Make sure to be in the a Promenade at 11:30 for my little music cal contribution for the day— Niamh O'Connor Music (@niamhoconmusic) July 8, 2015
The ship left Sydney on May 22, on a round-the-world cruise, and will be just over halfway through a 104-night voyage when arriving at Cork harbour.
The passengers on board will already have visited more than 20 ports including Dubai, Venice, Dubrovnik, Barcelona, and Southampton.
The 49 bells of St Colman’s Cathedral will ring out in welcome on the morning.
At 11am a ceremony dubbed ‘The Blessing of the Bonnets’ will take place on the quayside in memory of the 25,566 convict women transported to Australia from Ireland and Britain between 1788 and 1853.
Thereafter, it’s entertainment all the way from 11.30am to 4.30pm, with Darragh McGann, Niamh O’Connor, Luasca, the Cowhie Ryan Irish Dancers, and Douglas Comhaltas taking to the bandstand in The Promenade.
Market stalls will be set up around the town and shop windows will display ‘Down Under’ themes.
Finally, as the ship sets sail at around 5.30pm, the Cobh Confraternity Band play a selection of favourites and crowds will gather to wave off the visitors.
Once departed from Cobh the ship will visit more than 20 further ports, including Reykjavik, New York, Lima, and Easter Island.
Passengers will enjoy sailing into New York Harbour, a passage through the Panama Canal and ceremonies held on deck off the coast of Gallipoli to commemorate the Australian and New Zealand troops who landed, fought and died at Anzac Cove in 1915 during the First World War.
Locals will have little time to clean up before they are again inundated with passengers, this time coming off Cruises Britannia.
Chief among her features are her restaurants, bars, and cafes, with menus and culinary experiences created by James Martin, Marco Pierre White, Atul Kochhar, Eric Lanlard, wine expert Olly Smith, and cheese expert Charlie Turnbull.
Britannia’s most outstanding feature is her three-deck high atrium with illuminating Star Burst sculpture.
She also provides the largest British spa at sea, a theatre with LED wall, four pools, gym, and a multi-million pound art collection.
P&O Cruises marketing director Christopher Edgington said: “It is fitting that Britannia’s maiden season includes a British Isles itinerary featuring calls into so many wonderful ports of call. We are excited to be able to showcase this fabulous ship in Cobh and hope that the residents of Cobh are just as excited to see her.
“Not only will Britannia provide a boost to the local economy but she will be spectacular addition to the Irish coastline.”