The Port of Cork is planning to build a new €15m deep-water quay in Cobh to handle the increasing number of large cruise liners expected to arrive in the near future.
The company confirmed a record 66 liners are already booked to dock in the harbour next year, and the figure could well top 70 as the larger Quantum class vessels may yet announce their intention to visit.
The scheduled 66 ships will carry 170,000 passengers in total and, on average, they are expected to directly spend €73 each while ashore bringing a potential boost of €12.41m to the local economy.
Port of Cork commercial manager Captain Michael McCarthy said the company was planning to reach a target, by 2020, of attracting 75 cruise ships annually but it could be achieved earlier as business prospects are very encouraging.
He said the company plans to make the investment in a new deep-water berth in Cobh within the next three to four years.
“We want to capitalise on the number of big ships which are to be built,” said Capt McCarthy. “There are currently 62 new cruise liners on order which will enter service before 2020. More than half of these are bigger than 300m in length and some will be able to carry up to 6,000 passengers each. That’s why we need to invest in new facilities in Cobh.”
The company has already invested €1.5m in upgrading the existing cruise liner berth in Cobh to facilitate Quantum class ships, which are over 350 metres in length.
The new quay will also allow for two huge cruise ships to arrive at the same time.
On past occasions, when liners arrived at the same time, one had to berth in Ringaskiddy.
Capt McCarthy, chairman of Cruise Europe, said he would be travelling later this year to meet the owners of Quantum class vessels in the USA with the hope of securing deals to ensure Cork Harbour as an option for a stopover next season.
So far this year, the Port of Cork has welcomed 38 cruise liners to Cobh, with 90,000 passengers and crew on board.
With another 20 liners scheduled to call, the company estimates passengers and crew volumes will be nearly 150,000 by the end of the season.
“This year’s liners are calling right up until December with one particular ship booked to call here on Christmas day, a first for the port,” said Capt McCarthy.
The cruise liner Black Watch will be stopping over for Christmas Day and St Stephen’s Day in Cobh, with 1,000 British holidaymakers on board.
“We are working closely with Cobh heritage Centre, the Titanic Experience and others to have a number of centres open for the passengers to visit on St Stephen’s Day,” said Capt McCarthy.
Meanwhile, he also confirmed the Port of Cork’s magnificent Custom House building will be open to the public on this Saturday, as part of Heritage Week. It will be open from 11am until 3pm with guided tours at 12pm, 1pm, and 2pm.
Visitors on the guided tours will get an overview of the Port of Cork Company and then a look at the history of the Harbour Commissioners and Custom House.
They will also be given an extra treat as they will be shown a glimpse of the Cork Bonded Warehouses on Custom House Quay.
The guided tours will finish in the Port of Cork boardroom, a historic room with stunning architecture.