The Port of Cork hopes to have a second cruise liner terminal operational in Cobh by the end of the decade which will see up to 150 cruise liners visiting the town every year.
In the interim it's planned to move cruise liners out of Ringaskiddy, due to increased shipping demands there, and berth the larger ships at the existing terminal in Cobh and smaller ones at a new terminal which will be developed at Marino Point.
A number of businesses are interested in moving into the former IFI (Irish Fertilisers Industries) site at Marino Point and it's expected the harbourside facility will be full and operational by 2023.
Gouldings have already applied for planning permission to move their fertiliser facility from Centre Park Road in Cork city down to Marino Point, and according to Port of Cork chairman John Mullins, another large agri-related business is “in very advance discussions” with the joint venture company, Belvelly Marino Development Company (BMDC), set up by the port authority to develop the site.
Mr Mullins said that it was hoped that business, “which already supports quite an amount of employment in the region” would take up to five acres of the site for its project.
He added there were a number of other interested companies keen to locate at Marino Point, but discussions with them were at “an earlier stage.”
Mr Mullins stated that the mini-cruise berth will be built in the interim at Marino Point.
He explained this will be needed because increased activity is expected at Ringaskiddy where some visiting cruise ships currently tie-up.
This has resulted, in some part, from Brexit and a number of new container ships and ferry services making increased calls to the deepwater quays there.
It's the Port of Cork's intention to move larger cruise liners to Cobh and smaller ones to Marino Point where a new terminal will be built.
This will provide a stop-gap in advance of the development of a second deepwater terminal in Cobh, close to the former town hall.
“Ringaskiddy is becoming more crowded (with ships) so Marino Point is an obvious location for an interim (cruise liner) terminal and it's right next to Carrigaloe railway station, which is an added bonus (for visiting tourists),” Mr Mullins said.
Very welcome news from Brittany Ferries to operate two freight only services from Cork to Roscoff. Our relationship with @BrittanyFerries spans over 40 years & it continues to go from strength to strength. We wish them every success! https://t.co/4QxBilYF1Y pic.twitter.com/iDmum2zIeV— Port of Cork (@PortofCork) February 2, 2021
He said that talks are ongoing with private sector investors to develop the second terminal in Cobh. This will involve completely redeveloping the old town hall building and putting some new retail outlets in there.
When completed, this terminal will also act as the new home for ferry services to Spike Island.
Mr Mullins said that while the Covid-19 pandemic had a major impact on cruise companies, they are still getting bookings for visits in 2022 and 2023.
"We expect to be heading to 150 cruise liner visits per year in the late 2020s when the two Cobh terminals are open," Mr Mullins said.