Cruise ships visiting Dublin are to be brought further up the Liffey than ever before in a new plan to develop deep water berths.
Part of the river at the port is to be dredged to create a 12m deep channel for some of the world's biggest liners, up to 340m long, to dock beside the east link toll bridge.
The development will be promoted with at least a quarter of the 100 cruise ships coming into Dublin this year using the berths. It will also ensure that tides will not stop the bigger ships getting closer to the city centre.
Dublin Port Company has begun a pre-planning consultation process and a planning application for the work to take place is expected to be submitted in September. The development intends to create room for two new cruise berths next to the toll bridge.
Transport Minister Leo Varadkar said: "Dublin Port Company's plan to develop berths close to the city will greatly enhance our tourism offering. Today is the first step and is good news for the port and for the city of Dublin."
Larger cruise ships coming into Dublin currently dock down at the Alexandra basin, a few kilometres away from the east link bridge and the easy access to the city centre.
The development will also see berths deepened at Alex Quay West and Ocean Pier West in the docks to accommodate dry bulk freight ships and container ships. The new deep water berths by the toll bridge will have room for two 340m cruise ships and one 145m cruise ship. A large ship turning area has also been included in the plans.
Dublin Port revealed some of the plans as it welcomed one of the first cruise ships of the season into Dublin. The 142-metre Le Boreal liner, with 400 passengers and crew, sailed into port at 5am on Wednesday and berthed beside the toll bridge.
Eamonn O'Reilly, Dublin Port Company chief executive, said: "We're delighted to have secured almost 100 cruise ships this year and to bring many of these close to the city for the first time. We have studied cruise facilities in cities such as Vancouver and Copenhagen and learned a lot about customer requirements and optimal marketing requirements.
"We have a fantastic offering here with a growing reputation internationally as the go-to city for high end cruise calls. Our location at the heart of Dublin beside the city's shops, restaurants and bars, as well as proximity to the airport, makes Dublin Port a very attractive destination for major cruise liner operators."