A record 103 cruise liners are booked to visit Cork next year, including several which will dock in the port for the first time.
New ships such as Celebrity Cruises MV Celebrity Reflection and Ocean Cruises MV Scenic Eclipse, billed as a contender for the world's most luxurious cruise ship, will make their maiden visit to the deep water quay in Cobh, along with Holland American Lines MS Nieuw Statendam.
With one more cruise ship left to dock this year, the Port of Cork’s 2018 cruise season is drawing to a close.
In total 92 cruise ships will have visited in 2018, which represents the most significant cruise season ever for the Port of Cork.
More than 157,000 passengers and 69,000 crew will have stepped ashore, boosting the local economy by an estimated €12m.
The increased cruise calls to Cork are indicative of the wider global cruise business which has seen huge growth.
It is estimated that 27.2m people will have taken a cruise on over 450 cruise ships worldwide this year.
With the global cruise ship order book for new build contracts reaching 113 ships between now and 2027, Cork cruise business is set to grow further in the coming years and the Port of Cork is eager to attract these new ships.
Port of Cork chief executive Brendan Keating said even though its cruise business has grown 30% in the last year, the biggest beneficiary is the regional economy.
"This is a significant boost which we are delighted to facilitate," Mr Keating said.
"In 2019 we anticipate over 100 cruise calls to Cork and realistically this is how we expect the cruise business pace to continue."
Last October, Port of Cork officials visited all the major cruise lines calling to Cork and feedback from the companies was very positive in terms of their passenger experiences when visiting Cork.
Currently, all cruise operations are handled in Cobh, which is Ireland’s only dedicated cruise berth.
However, with the continued growth in calls, the Port of Cork is now keen to explore the option of a second cruise berth in Cobh.
In that regard, the Port of Cork recently launched its ‘Expressions of Interest’ to the market inviting submissions from potentially interested parties to develop and/or operate a new cruise berth at Lynch’s Quay Cobh.
Port of Cork chief commercial officer Conor Mowlds said by launching the Expressions of Interest they will see if there is an appetite in the market to develop a new cruise berth in Cobh.
"From the port’s perspective, we know this business is growing and we want to have every possible option ready to capitalise on this business," Mr Mowlds said.