A Titanic-themed ferry service will run from Cobh this summer to accommodate tourists in the harbour town.
The Cork Harbour boat tour will run from 7pm for three weekends in June, on a trial basis, and will take visitors to the mouth of the harbour where the Titanic last docked.
The tour will last two to three hours, telling the story of Titanic’s visit to Cobh, then known as Queenstown — the last port of call on liner’s ill-fated maiden voyage.
Of the 123 passengers who boarded at Queenstown only 44 survived the disaster.
The Titanic tour will be run in addition to the ferry service operating to Spike Island from Cobh, which has gone out to tender, with a new contract for three years up for grabs.
The 103-acre Spike Island was named as Europe’s best tourist attraction at the 2017 World Travel Awards.
However, a number of County Councillors have raised concerns that docking facilities on the opposite side of the harbour at Passage West and Monkstown are not being utilised.
Councillor Marcia D’Alton (IND) said the direct nature of the new Titanic tour misses the two towns out completely.
“In Passage West, we do have a pontoon in place and there is a jetty in Monkstown so we all have products we would like to offer. That’s why we hoped the second boat would be circuitous rather than direct.”
Seamus McGrath (FF) said new access points to Spike Island need to be established.
“If we are serious about growing it as a tourist destination in terms of numbers we need to look at the opposite side of the harbour,” he said.
Cork County Council senior executive officer John Forde said new access points will be considered eventually.
“We do have an ambition in the future to promote access. Right now, what we are trying to do is provide a service to allow us to get more people on to Spike Island,” he added.
John A.Collins (FG) said there is not enough scope for tourists to enjoy Spike Island due to restrictions on closing times.
Mr Forde replied that there are parameters in which the service has to operate and tourists don’t like to visit before 10am and the island needs to be secured before 6pm.
County chief executive Tim Lucey said the main focus of the Council is to increase the number of tourists in Cobh.
“We are going to increase the capacity to Spike this year. It increased from 33,000 to 45,000 last year. It’s a phenomenal product. Over time we want to look at a whole range of increased access points,. We are not going to be able to change everything overnight,” he added.