Cruise trade passes Falmouth by as Cobh prospers

Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas is currently the world's largest cruise ship

Royal Caribbean International's Oasis of the Seas is currently the world's largest cruise ship

First published in News

Every week in the European cruise season cruise ships pass Falmouth either heading east or west as they cruise around Britain or cruise to other European Channel ports.  As far as round Britain cruises are concerned companies plan their itineraries extremely carefully balancing port costs, steaming times between ports and shore facilities available, writes David Barnicoat.

Time and time again I have mentioned on this page that Falmouth is ideally located between other Channel ports and Cobh in Ireland. The link with the Port of Cork (Cobh) is probably one of the most important factors in attracting the mega cruise ships of today and the future if the Falmouth harbour dredging goes ahead because of the relatively short overnight steaming time between the ports.

The Port of Cork is one port that has realised the economic importance and potential of the European cruise industry by investing heavily in new port infrastructure to attract the cruise ships of all sizes including the 300 metre long mega ships now becoming common in Europe.

Building on the success of their initial investment to the port infrastructure the Port of Cork is now carrying out an in depth feasibility study as part of its cruise strategy into constructing a second dedicated cruise berth in Cobh to cater for the increase in vessels calling to Ireland and to facilitate the berthing alongside of the largest cruise ships.

Over the next five years the port authority plans to significantly increase the number of cruise ship visits to Cork and wants to concentrate all berthing in Cobh.

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 for the creation of 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 54 calls are scheduled. Despite the number being slightly down on the 62 vessels in 2013, the vessels calling are larger and have higher passenger volumes. It is estimated that 108,000 passengers and 30,000 crew will visit the Cork region in 2014.

“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 the new Quantum-class vessels of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd and to this affect we are committed to investing in upgrading the current cruise facilities in Cobh,” McCarthy said.

“These ultra-large and modern vessels carry almost 5,000 passengers and no other port in Ireland is capable of berthing vessels greater than 300m currently, giving Cork a greater advantage when attracting new calls.” Bookings for the 2015 season so far include 17 vessels of 330m lengths or more indicating the trend towards larger vessels sailing in the cruise Europe region.

“Even though the cost of upgrading the current facility in Cobh is very significant, the Port of Cork is committed to the cruise sector due to its considerable financial benefit to the local economy and the Munster region in general.” 

It is estimated that the cruise liner business will inject €15m into the local economy this year.

Falmouth still awaits the final decision from the Marine Management Organisation as to whether it will grant permission for the dredging to go ahead. Whilst Cobh prospers Falmouth is in limbo as government mandarins hold the future of the town and port in their hands.

Comments (7)

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8:33am Fri 22 Aug 14

WANDERERS says...

Feel ashamed "do gooders"
Feel ashamed "do gooders" WANDERERS
  • Score: 16

8:48am Fri 22 Aug 14

Gill Z Martin says...

I would love to be able to travel to Ireland from Falmouth, it would make it so much easier. Falmouth needs the trade for the town to prosper, the long term security of jobs, and the local economy in general.
I would love to be able to travel to Ireland from Falmouth, it would make it so much easier. Falmouth needs the trade for the town to prosper, the long term security of jobs, and the local economy in general. Gill Z Martin
  • Score: 20

4:27pm Fri 22 Aug 14

ElevenEleven says...

I confidently predict that Sarah Newton will be seen to do something about the dredging issue just before next year's election so she holds on to her seat, and then it will all go quiet for another 5 years...
I confidently predict that Sarah Newton will be seen to do something about the dredging issue just before next year's election so she holds on to her seat, and then it will all go quiet for another 5 years... ElevenEleven
  • Score: 21

1:46pm Sat 23 Aug 14

WANDERERS says...

ElevenEleven wrote:
I confidently predict that Sarah Newton will be seen to do something about the dredging issue just before next year's election so she holds on to her seat, and then it will all go quiet for another 5 years...
Well said eleveneleven
[quote][p][bold]ElevenEleven[/bold] wrote: I confidently predict that Sarah Newton will be seen to do something about the dredging issue just before next year's election so she holds on to her seat, and then it will all go quiet for another 5 years...[/p][/quote]Well said eleveneleven WANDERERS
  • Score: 12

2:53pm Sat 23 Aug 14

Teejay says...

I've visited Cobh on a cruise. The town has a feel about it that is very similar to Falmouth. Cork city, like Truro, is a short train ride from the dock-side station. Cruise passengers love it and the bars, shops and taxis in both Cobh and Cork do well from the extra visitors. The same is available to Falmouth if we take our head out of the silt.
There is nothing special required to accommodate cruise ships, just a will to attract them a simple pontoon or wharf and deep enough water to berth.
Those who doubt the value of cruise trade or say it is insignificant need to ask themselves why ports everywhere are investing heavily in cruise facilities and understand how much we are losing out.
I've visited Cobh on a cruise. The town has a feel about it that is very similar to Falmouth. Cork city, like Truro, is a short train ride from the dock-side station. Cruise passengers love it and the bars, shops and taxis in both Cobh and Cork do well from the extra visitors. The same is available to Falmouth if we take our head out of the silt. There is nothing special required to accommodate cruise ships, just a will to attract them a simple pontoon or wharf and deep enough water to berth. Those who doubt the value of cruise trade or say it is insignificant need to ask themselves why ports everywhere are investing heavily in cruise facilities and understand how much we are losing out. Teejay
  • Score: 17

3:54pm Sat 23 Aug 14

diesel 1 says...

Just get helston Gordon / john down there . As soon as he opens his mouth the harbour will be dredged free of charge.
Just get helston Gordon / john down there . As soon as he opens his mouth the harbour will be dredged free of charge. diesel 1
  • Score: 10

5:26pm Sun 24 Aug 14

Jirakitt says...

diesel 1 wrote:
Just get helston Gordon / john down there . As soon as he opens his mouth the harbour will be dredged free of charge.
It wouldn't be dredged, quite the opposite,
it would be full of fecal matter!
[quote][p][bold]diesel 1[/bold] wrote: Just get helston Gordon / john down there . As soon as he opens his mouth the harbour will be dredged free of charge.[/p][/quote]It wouldn't be dredged, quite the opposite, it would be full of fecal matter! Jirakitt
  • Score: 4

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