CBA event will help Cork City traders tap into lucrative luxury cruise passenger market

Traders in Cork City will be urged tonight to ‘push the boat out’ and develop a co-ordinated approach to entice into the city centre at least half of the 100,000 passengers and almost 40,000 crew on board the ships which call annually to Ireland’s only dedicated cruise berth at the Port of Cork’s Cobh Cruise Terminal.

The call will come at a Cork Business Association (CBA) hosted ‘after-hours’ briefing event for its members this evening. It will be addressed by the chief executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty, who will give an overview of developments in the city centre.

Sara Mackeown, commercial marketing executive of the Port of Cork company, who will also address CBA members, said: “We have at least 100,000 passengers on these ships, we market the port, we can handle some of the world’s biggest ships, but once we get them in, it’s up to businesses to seize the opportunity. We need to collectively market the city to highlight the opportunities.”

Recent figures show that each cruise ship passenger spends an average of €73 a day while onshore.

Port of Cork statistics show that, even before the liners arrive in port, about half the passengers have booked short excursions to places such as Blarney, Kinsale, the Jameson Experience in Midleton, the Rock of Cashel, and Youghal.

The rest are independent travellers, many of whom take the train from Cobh to explore Cork City themselves. The Port of Cork also provides a free shuttle bus service to and from the city to cruise passengers who berth in Ringaskiddy. However, city businesses have never united to target this category of passenger — a market which could be worth up to €3.6m annually.

While the Port of Cork places tour guides on board the liners to advise passengers on what to see and do while on shore, Ms Mackeown said they hope to work with CBA members to promote the city’s tourist offering too. Developing a brochure promoting the city’s attractions and events must be considered, and the development of a food-tasting and music-themed tour is worth exploring, she said.

The Port of Cork’s cruise liner season opened on April 1, with the arrival of MV Balmoral and her 1,800 passengers and crew at Cobh. It was the first of up to 58 liners scheduled to call to Cork this year. Four are due to call in December alone, with one ship due in Cobh on St Stephen’s Day.

Princess Cruises’ MV Caribbean Princess, which carries 3,500 passengers and 1,200 crew, will make her third call to Cobh on Friday. She is due to visit seven more times this year. Last year, the Port of Cork invested €1.5m upgrading the Cobh terminal to handle larger Quantum class ships. It hopes to increase its cruise calls to 75 a year over the next three years.

Bantry Bay Port Company will also welcome three cruise liners this year, including the MV Albatross, which will call to Bantry before docking in Cobh.