In 1991 the Port of Cork welcomed 10 cruiseships carrying 9,552 passengers and crew to Cobh and by 2011 this has increased to 54 calls carrying 100,902 passengers and crew. One vessel to visit this year was The World (pictured).
This significant growth shows that the Port of Cork’s investment in a dedicated cruise terminal in Cobh has paid dividends. Cork is the only port in Ireland that can berth the larger ships alongside in a deepwater sheltered environment.
Over the years the Port of Cork has invested over €8 million on berthing facilities and today has ambitious plans to grow the business to 75 calls over the next five years.
The overall economic contribution of the cruise business in Ireland is estimated to be worth €60 million to the island. Cork contributes an estimated €20m to the local economy. In a recent survey carried out by Red C Research on behalf of Cruise Ireland, the look of a port is seen to be a key feature. Those arriving into Cork port cite this as very important in encouraging passengers to disembark and take an excursion.
Over 90% of passengers were satisfied with their experience which exceeded their expectations. New shore excursions are being created and the Port of Cork works closely with local tour operators to ensure cruise company’s expectations are met.
The Port of Cork has a long-established relationship with many cruise companies, some of which date back over 130 years to the ‘trans-Atlantic liner days’. Companies such as Cunard Line, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, P&O Cruises and Holland America Line have renewed their relationship. For example, having welcomed vessels such as QE2 in her early years and bade farewell on her departing cruise, Cobh played host to Cunard’s three queens this year: Queen Victoria, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2.
Captain Michael McCarthy, commercial manager of the Port of Cork, is confident that the cruise sector has potential for further expansion within an Irish context and says he is determined to play an active part in this development.