HUGE numbers turned out to welcome a number of familiar faces to Cobh yesterday as the world famous Disney Magic cruise liner docked in the town for the very first time.
Mickey Mouse, Goofy and co were all on board to celebrate the landmark visit as the Disney cruise liner continues its seven-night cruise around Ireland and the United Kingdom.
Capable of holding 2,713 guests and almost 1,000 crew, the 11-deck luxury Disney Magic is one of the most well-known names on the Port of Cork’s schedule for 2018.
Arriving in Cobh in the early hours of yesterday morning, the Disney Magic attracted a number of keen photographers, eager to capture the moment.
Disney fans, shipping enthusiasts and tourism bodies were among the other early risers, while crowds continued to filter to the town throughout the day to catch a glimpse of the cruise liner.
To mark its maiden call to Cobh and to ensure a warm welcome for all the passengers, a huge number of family-focused events took place from early afternoon in the promenade in Cobh too.
Tourists and locals were treated to a festival atmosphere throughout the day, with an outdoor ball pool trailer, balloon modelling, face painting, magic shows and music all organised throughout the afternoon.
The weather played its part too, with clear skies and sunshine throughout the day. Some of the best-known Disney characters were out on deck as the liner left Cobh early yesterday evening.
The liner will return to Cobh in just under a week, docking on September 11, while Port officials have confirmed that further visits are on the agenda in the coming years too.
Chief Executive Brendan Keating said: “Welcoming the Disney Magic to Cork is a real honour for the Port of Cork and we look forward to further calls from this admired cruise line.”
Passengers on the liner were encouraged to explore Cork’s ‘vibrant culinary scene’ on arrival, with pamphlets highlighting the pubs, shops and cafés in the city and wider region. They were also told about Cork’s ancient past, including the likes of the Blarney stone.
The arrival of the Disney Magic cruise liner marks the start of a very busy month for the port. Some 16 liners are scheduled to visit Cobh before the end of the month, including the Brilliance of the Seas, which is due to arrive with 2,500 passengers tomorrow morning.
The Regal Princess (3,600 passengers) is the biggest liner scheduled to arrive this month, while the 4000-capacity Norwegian Breakaway will arrive early in October as the season comes to a close.
So far, 2018 has been a landmark year for the Port of Cork’s tourism schedule.
In mid-August, Port officials confirmed that more than 150,000 passengers had already visited Cork.
By the end of the year, a total of 96 liners will have docked in Cobh, bringing a total of 230,000 passengers and crew.
In its 2017 annual report, issued in recent weeks, Port officials confirmed that 142,000 passengers and crew visited Cork in 2017.
It is understood that a significant portion of the 2019 cruise schedule has already been confirmed with officials optimistic about a further increase in traffic as interest in north-west Europe as a cruise liner destination continues to grow.