Last Thursday marked a significant milestone in the development of Dún Laoghaire Harbour as a location for visits by cruise ships with the arrival of the Queen Mary 2, flagship vessel of the famous Cunard line.
Around 4,000 passengers and 1,000 crew were on the vessel that arrived at 07.00 and remained moored off the harbour until around 18.00 in the evening. Six further cruise vessels are expected to visit Dún Laoghaire Harbour over the next two months, with a total of 14 expected over the full season.
Speaking after the arrival of the Queen Mary 2, the Chief Executive of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, Gerry Dunne, said: “This is an historic day for Dún Laoghaire Harbour and augurs well for our plans to develop the harbour as the key port along the east coast for cruise visits.
“The cruise line business is a growing market sector in the tourism industry. Ireland has recently begun to capitalise on this market and over the last few years has succeeded in attracting a growing number of visits by cruise liners. However, the number of trips to Ireland represents a very small share of this potential market and the opportunity exists to grow this business to the Irish economy very significantly.
“Working with the Dún Laoghaire Cruise Stakeholder Group, the Harbour Company has engaged in a vigorous marketing campaign, particularly in the United States, to enable Dún Laoghaire to tap into this lucrative market.
“To ensure that the harbour is also capable of catering for the ‘new generation’ of larger cruise vessels, the Stakeholder Group has initiated a Pre-Application Consultation with An Bord Pleanála under Section 37 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 in regard to proposals for the construction of a new quay in Dún Laoghaire Harbour to cater for vessels of up to c.340m long. This is entirely consistent with the designation of Dún Laoghaire under the recently published National Ports Policy as a centre for marine related tourism and recreational activities.”
The visit of the Queen Mary 2 shows the potential of this sector of tourism to deliver significant economic benefit to Dún Laoghaire, the Greater Dublin area and the country in general.