Costa Concordia Is Raised From The Sea - Afloat
Written by Paddy Aran
Costa Concordia Is Raised From The Sea
Cork, the peninsula's of Kerry, the Aran Islands off the mid-western seaboard and to a lesser extent Connemara and Strangford Lough. Due to the very nature of these scenic locations, cruise calls are in part restricted to smaller intimate cruiseships ...
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Cruise Liners & Cruise Ship Visitors to Irish Ports
Cruiseships / 'Liner' Overview
Ireland, despite's it relatively small size surprisingly enjoys a spectacularly long and rugged coastline that stretches for more than 1,400km. The strategic positioning of Ireland on the north-western periphery of the European market and those across the Atlantic Ocean, has been an added advantage in attracting an increasing number of cruise callers and notably over the last decade.
The cruise industry to Ireland each year brings approximately half a million passengers and crew. The sector has a spin-off benefitting not just port authorities but also contributing to ship-agents, ground-handling agents, retail and visitor centres, transport companies, local authorities and tourist organisations.
The cruiseship market is the fastest-growing sector in the travel and leisure industry. Globally, it is experiencing accelerated growth of 7.2% annually despite the tourism industry declining overall. Each year the cruiseship-spend in Ireland directly generated in excess of â‚¬20 million, however this is a tiny fraction of the â‚¬27 billion the market is worth globally.
Cruiseships based in the USA with operations in the Caribbean also enjoy trading in Europe as they switch seasons and in turn trade in different continents, in doing so they capitalise on making repositioning cruises.
Among them is the Cunard Line's Queen Mary 2, which uniquely also provides an exclusive 'liner' role too between New York and her homeport of Southampton, which is the UK's premier cruise port which handles hundreds of call annually with many cruiseships setting off on cruises with calls to Irish ports.
Dublin, Belfast and Cork being traditionally the stronghold ports of call, though secondary ports have also welcomed numerous cruise calls to include the world's leading cruise brand operators, among them Carnival, Holland America, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines.
Also in the marketplace are the medium sized luxury cruiseship operators; Azamara Cruises, Hapag-Lloyd and SilverSeas Cruises and in recent years Mediterranean operators have also come on board.
Such international cruise companies not only bring prestige and clout to Irish ports visited but of course bring an economic boost to the local economy. In addition the impact is felt in the surrounding hinterland, where principle visitor attractions which make this country as a major selling point in attracting cruise operators whose guests get a sense of the rich and varied history of Ireland that was shaped by overseas invaders who helped to establish our ancient ports.
For example, Waterford, which is Ireland's oldest city founded by the Vikings who headed upriver of the Suir, and is where cruiseships follow in the wake of history as they dock in the heart of the city.
With a wealth of invaders down the centuries, the rich tapestry of Ireland in woven through times turbulent and tranquil and where cruise-tourists can appreciate our cultural heritage and identity.
In order to reach these places of outstanding natural beauty, cruiseships make calls anchorage calls in stunning secluded bays, inlets or estuaries which dot our varied and mostly unspoilt coastline. Prime anchorage hotspots been Glengariff, Co. Cork, the peninsula's of Kerry, the Aran Islands off the mid-western seaboard and to a lesser extent Connemara and Strangford Lough.
Due to the very nature of these scenic locations, cruise calls are in part restricted to smaller intimate cruiseships which cater for both the ultra-luxury market and those wishing to have exhibition-based cruises where passengers can explore isolated islands by making Zodiac-based shore excursions.
Then there are those anchorages calls made only due to certain port which have restrictions on deep-water berths and distinct lack of a dedicated cruise liner terminal.
The challenge for our ports, which are diverse in terms of size and shipping sectors they serve was reflected in the National Ports Policy, which designated ports on a tiered-basis and which sets out how ports can identify, adapt and develop new business plans to suit the overall shipping industry.
A blatant case being Dublin Bays ports with cruiseships calling to Dublin Port and the revival of the sector returning to Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Both ports are vying to tap into this expanding cruise market and where each port proposes to develop custom-built terminals capable of handling the 'next' generation of ultra-large cruiseships of around 5,000 passengers each.
On foot of this growing globalised cruise market, the clientele has in the past depended on European and North American clientele; however the trends see expansion from other regions which have also contributed to the explosion of ever larger giant-sized ships.
Not matter where cruise callers originate from the critical factor is that so many thousands of tourists are making their first ever visit to our shores, and shows the importance of the 'Irish welcome' in retaining customer loyalty with repeat cruise bookings.
New to Irish cruise call scene is the 'turn-around', where cruiseships make back-to-back calls at the same port, with passengers disembarking having completed a cruise while others arrive by taking a flight to the country so to start their cruise.
Cruise passengers are of course tourists however the domestic market is also catered for albeit at times sporadic with direct no-fly cruises sailing from larger ports. These cruises generally head for the Iberian Peninsula and beyond to Madeira and the Canary Islands.
Authors: Aran Islander