Crystal Serenity docking in Dublin  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Crystal Serenity docking in Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

The company describes it as “the very best cruise ship in the world”. Crystal Serenity operated by Crystal Cruises was mooring in Dublin this morning as I was passing over the East Link bridge. So I went down to the Poolbeg Yacht Club and Marina to take a closer look at the liner, which is 250m in length and has room for just over 1000 passengers.

The master was manoeuvring her very adroitly in reverse in order to turn and berth. The same vessel had been in Waterford on Monday and visited Holyhead, Liverpool and Greenock prior to arrival at 10:30am. On Saturday night she will head for Belfast, arriving at 7am on Sunday, thence to Derry, Galway, Portland and Jersey in the Channel Islands, reaching the final destination, Dover, on Saturday week at the end of an 83-days cruise of the Mediterranean-West, that began in Lisbon on May 17th.

Crystal Serenity docking in Dublin  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Crystal Serenity docking in Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

Described as an elegant mid-size ship for mature travellers featuring high class service, Crystal Serenity is best suited to sophisticated travellers, typically over 50, who are looking for contemporary ship surroundings, with fine quality fittings and furnishings, a wide range of public rooms and facilities, and excellent food and service from a well-trained staff.

After a recent $17 million redesign – the latest in the ship’s two year $52 million investment – it boasts a chic and contemporary style featuring several cruise industry firsts, such as a chef’s herb garden as part of vibrant “vertical walls” of greenery. Next year beginning on August 16, 2016, Crystal Serenity will sail a unique 32 day itinerary from Seward, Alaska to New York City via the Northwest Passage.

Astor berthed at East Wall Bridge near 3Arena in River Liffey, Dublin  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Astor berthed at East Wall Bridge near 3Arena in River Liffey, Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

As I was approaching the East Link bridge on my way into the city, I saw the cruise ship MS ASTOR moored at the quayside close to the 3Arena. It is a relatively small ship as cruise vessels go (579ft long). It is owned by Cruise & Maritime Voyages and can accommodate 600 passengers. It was extensively refurbished in 2010. Astor left Dublin around 5pm this evening and as I write is in the Irish Sea passing off the County Down coast en route for Derry.

Thursday of last week was the biggest ever day for cruise tourism in Dublin. The Port welcomed the arrival of four luxury cruise ships, all within a four hour window, with a total of 13,000 visitors. Placed end to end, the four cruise ships would stretch to more than one kilometre. Dublin Port’s cruise business is now firmly on track for a record year in 2015 with nearly 100 cruise ships bringing 200,000 visitors to Dublin expected for the full year.

The Royal Princess (330m long), Celebrity Silhouette (319m long), MV Horizon (208m long) and Magellan (222m long) cruise ships arrived at the mouth of the River Liffey between 3:30am and 7:00am on July 23rd, giving their passengers and crew a day to spend sightseeing in the capital. Cruise ship arrivals typically deliver a €100 per passenger spend, meaning an economic boost of €1.3million for the city today. These ships’ passengers originate primarily from the United States of America, France and Great Britain.

Crystal Serenity docking in Dublin  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Crystal Serenity docking in Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

At 330m long, the most impressive arrival was the 19-deck Royal Princess measuring just three metres shy of MSC Splendida, the longest cruise ship ever to dock at Dublin Port earlier this summer. The Crystal Serenity, the MSC Splendida, Royal Princess and the Celebrity Silhouette had to manoeuvre stern first (‘reverse’) into Dublin Port, given their lengths. This complex manoeuvre was co-ordinated by the port’s Harbour Master, Capt. David Dignam, and the port’s pilots with the assistance of two tugs.

With Dublin Port Company’s ABR Project recently approved by An Bord Pleanála, this practice will no longer be required as larger ships will be able to routinely call at Dublin, turn within the expanded Alexandra Basin West and berth as far upriver as East Link Bridge.  The project, once complete, will mean an even brighter future for cruise tourism to the capital with Dublin Port able to handle the world’s largest cruise liners, including the 360m long Allure of the Seas. This in turn will create a positive economic impact for the city, enhance inbound tourism and contribute to the development of Docklands.

Eamonn O’Reilly, Chief Executive, Dublin Port Company, said: “Dublin City is a marquee destination for the world’s largest cruise lines. Our location at the heart of the city means that passengers can maximise their time in the capital, taking in the city’s sights, shops and attractions with ease. Dublin Port’s cruise business is growing from strength to strength. We are already on track for a record year in 2015, and with work on our ABR Project commencing before the end of the year, the future of cruise tourism to the capital is now secure.”    

The MSC Splendida cruise liner, the longest ship ever to call at Dublin Port, arrived in May, one of 83 cruise calls confirmed for Dublin Port this year. Currently ranked as the 11th longest cruise ship in the world, accommodating her arrival pushed the boundaries of the port’s operational limits.

The ship’s 4,600 passengers and crew were greeted on arrival by a Celtic-inspired welcome on the quayside featuring a live ceili band, Irish drummers, dancers and entertainment before passengers departed for the city’s shops and attractions. On board, the MSC Splendida boasts a VIP section with 24 hour butler service and features more than a dozen bars and lounges, spa and Turkish baths, four swimming pools, squash courts and a Formula 1 simulator, all spread over 18 decks.

In a further boost for cruise tourism to the city, Dublin Port Company has also announced that Dublin Port will become the first Irish port to welcome Disney Cruise Line following confirmation that “Disney Magic” will call to Dublin in 2016. The 300m long Disney Magic will make her maiden call to Dublin Port on 26th May 2016 as part of a transatlantic cruise starting in Port Canaveral, Florida and finishing in Dover, England. Disney Magic will visit Dublin again on 13th June 2016 as part of a 12 night cruise around Britain with Dublin selected as the only destination in Ireland. She will bring 2,700 passengers and a complement of 950 cast and crew to the city each time. The selection by Disney Cruise Line of Dublin as its chosen destination in Ireland highlights the strength of Dublin as an attraction for cruise tourism. Disney Cruise Line now joins a long list of the world’s largest cruise lines choosing to call to Dublin Port.

In a separate development, Dublin Port Company and Dublin City Council will also jointly host the Cruise Europe Conference in Dublin in 2016. The three day event attracts over 200 delegates from leading cruise destinations throughout Europe (including the Mediterranean, Spain and Portugal, the Baltic region and Northern Europe), from all the major cruise lines and service suppliers to the cruise industry worldwide. This is the first time that the event will take place in Dublin, providing a high profile opportunity to showcase the city as a leading cruise tourism destination.

Commenting on the challenge of bringing the MSC Splendida into Dublin Port, Dublin Port’s Harbour Master, Capt. Dignam, explained: “When asked whether we could accommodate these larger ships our first challenge was to see how we could safely bring a ship into and out of the port, especially when the river is too narrow to allow it to turn within the port. The result of our many simulation exercises has convinced me and the cruise lines that, weather permitting, we can safely enter the port bow first and then manoeuvre stern first out (or vice versa). Due credit must be given to the skills of our pilots and the masters of our tugs “Shackleton” and “Beaufort”, combined with the expertise of the cruise ships’ Masters and their ships’ enormous manoeuvring capabilities”.

Crystal Serenity docking in Dublin  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Crystal Serenity docking in Dublin Photo: © Michael Fisher

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