The cruise liner season will open in Cork on Monday with the arrival of the first vessel of 2017, a 539ft, 600-capacity passenger ship.
The MV Saga Pearl 2 will be the first of the 65 calls that are expected at the Port of Cork this year bringing approximately 160,000 passengers and crew to Cork city and county up until November.
Commercial Manager at the Port of Cork, Captain Michael McCarthy said the cruise liner industry is increasing in Cork and added there are plans to increase the number of calls in 2018 with bookings already taken.
“The 2017 Cork cruise season is booming which is great for the port and the region. The numbers of calls are up compared to 2016 and we feel very positive about this increase in business. It’s also very encouraging to see cruise lines bringing their newest vessels to Cork on maiden calls and choosing Cobh as part of their cruising route,” he said.
“It is our ambition as a port company to attract larger cruise ships and increase our cruise calls to 75 per year. Already in 2018 the bookings are indicating we will achieve this goal, if not exceed it,” he added.
The MV Saga Pearl 2 was built in 1981 in Hamburg and initially made cruises between Sout Africa and Europe until 2002 when it moved to Norway. In 2009, the ship underwent a €20 plus refurbishment and can take up to 449 passengers, served by 220 crew.
Seven new liners will call to the Port of Cork this season on their maiden call, while Princess Cruises’ MV Caribbean Princess, carrying 3,500 passengers, will make fourteen visits this season.
Cobh was recently voted as the second best cruise destination in Western Europe.
Joe O’Neill, chairman of Cruise Ireland and Belfast Harbour’s Commercial Director, said Ireland is outperforming its European counterparts over the last 10 years with cruise passengers growing by 13% in contrast with the European average of 9%.
Six liners have already been booked in for Cork for the 2018 season. Cruise ships calling at Irish ports range from the largest vessels operating in Europe such as the Royal Princess with over 5,000 passengers and crew to smaller expedition and luxury vessels with just 50 passengers.
Dates and arrival times of cruise liners calling to Cobh or Bantry can be found at.