The Cruise Europe member is planning to increase the number of calls to Cork in the next five years and wants to concentrate all berthing in Cobh, rather than have some cruise ships liners using the cargo terminal in Ringaskiddy.
Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said: ‘We will be upgrading the current cruise berth from 2015 by installing additional bollards which will take the mooring ropes of the largest cruise vessels afloat.’
The longer-term solution is to build an additional berth. ‘We’re fortunate that we have enough depth of water in Cobh to facilitate an additional berth and have the capacity to manoeuvre and swing these vessels free,’ he explained.
The port has a target of 75 calls a year within the next five years.
This year Cork will welcome 54 cruise ships, down from 62 vessels in 2013, but the vessels are larger with 108,000 passengers and 30,000 crew expected to visit in 2014. 3,500 passenger Royal Princess is one of three ships making maiden calls this year.
It is estimated that cruising will inject €15m into the local economy this year.
‘We have two main objectives over the next five years, to grow the number of cruise calls and increase overnight stays. We are also aiming to handle Royal Caribbean’s Quantum-class vessels and to this affect we are committed to investing in upgrading the current cruise facilities in Cobh,’ McCarthy said.
Bookings for the 2015 season include 17 vessels of 330mtr length or more indicating the trend towards larger vessels sailing in the Cruise Europe region, add McCarthy, who is also chairman of Cruise Europe.