'In demand' Dublin welcomes luxury cruise ship twice the size of Croke Park
One of the world's most decadent ships kicked off Dublin's 2017 cruise season as it made its maiden visit to the city port.
Passengers and crew were greeted by Irish dancing, live music and impressive drum displays as they disembarked the Celebrity Eclipse at Ocean Pier 33.
Passengers were given the day to explore the city, which Celebrity Cruises CEO & President Lisa Lutoff-Perlo said was fast becoming a top destination for cruisers.
“Ireland is an amazing place full of wonderful, friendly people," she told Independent.ie. "Our guests want to come to Ireland. The destination is becoming more and more popular and in-demand."
“We are looking to increase the number of times we visit this part of the world next year and we’ll be home-porting in Dublin for the first time.”
Eclipse is just one of five Solstice Class ships operated by Celebrity, with premium features including a rooftop lawn with real grass, a high end spa, a professional photo studio and an in-house glass blowing show performed for passengers.
A record-breaking 130 cruise ships are set to dock in Dublin this year, carrying 200,000 passengers and crew, and Eclipse is one of the largest, stretching 313m in length.
Because of its size, the ship was 'reversed' stern-first into Dublin Port.
This practice will be eradicated by 2020 however, when ongoing development work on the Alexandra Basin Redevelopment Project will be complete. The project will see ships even larger than Eclipse able to dock as far up the Liffey as the East Link.
This will cement Dublin’s emerging status as a “home port” where ships will begin and end their journeys, according to Pat Ward, Head of Corporate Services for Dublin Port.
“It’s really good for tourism; it’s going to boost tourism numbers because the statistics show that people generally come in about two to three days ahead [of their cruise], or stay two to three days after, so it’s going to obviously give an increase of bedrooms occupied in the city in 2018,” he said.
Celebrity Eclipse will home port in Dublin from April through June of next year, offering five cruises that begin and end in the city, rather than simply visiting for a day.
Mr Ward said: “The economic benefit is good for retailers, it’s good for jobs, it’s good for tourist attractions.The city is the real beneficiary of cruise tourism and today is, in many ways, a taster of what’s to come.”
Celebrity Eclipse began its current, 10-day President's cruise from Southampton and will end its Western-European voyage in Iceland.