Record number of luxury cruise liners to arrive in Dún Laoghaire

Councillor Lettie McCarthy on her way to visit the Emerald Princess as it arrived into Dún Laoghaire recently

Tony McCullagh

Record numbers of cruise ships are set to visit Dún Laoghaire this year in a further sign that international tourism is rebounding strongly from the pandemic.

The expected arrival of more than 70 luxury liners to the south Dublin harbour has been described as “a return to normality” and a welcome economic boost for the town.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council said it will have its busiest year yet for cruise ship business “as the global and national tourism industry kicks back into gear”.

Ships visiting the town will range in capacity from 300 to 3,000 passengers, with larger vessels anchored off Scotsman’s Bay due to insufficient berthing facilities at Dún Laoghaire Harbour.

This will require visitors and crews to be ferried to and from the town by tender boats. Smaller cruise ships will still be able to access the harbour area, according to the council.

“We cannot accept ships over a certain length and depth,” a spokesperson said. “The smaller ships that fit our criteria will continue to berth at Carlisle Pier.

“The larger ships will anchor in Dublin Bay, in the Dublin Port main anchorage, and will tender in to a new pontoon berth on the east side of St Michael’s Pier.

“There are no plans at the moment to allow larger ships to berth in the harbour.”

Controversial proposals for new berthing facilities to accommodate next-generation cruise ships were scrapped when the local authority took over responsibility for the harbour in 2019.

The plans, submitted by the former Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, were withdrawn after a report warned of significant commercial and environmental risks.

However, the council has now put additional harbour infrastructure in place to allow ease of access for cruise passengers disembarking in Dún Laoghaire.

This includes a new information kiosk beside the old ferry terminal, where guests are greeted by a cruise welcome team and directed to local pubs, shops and attractions.

Dave Lawless, Tourism Officer with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, said they were working to ensure the economic benefit for the town is “coordinated and maximised”.

“The guests arriving have a limited time in the area so we are hopeful they will stay and enjoy this unique part of Dublin,” he said.

Aileen Eglington, PRO of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Chamber, said the sight of the cruise ships off the bay was “a hugely reassuring sign” that tourism is continuing to recover.

“Even if passengers from larger cruise ships have to come to shore by tender, the general feeling is that the procedure seems to be working very well in Dún Laoghaire,” she said.

“It’s also important to remember that crew members will also be coming ashore. Cruise tourism was hit badly by the pandemic so it’s very positive to see it returning.”

Councillor Lettie McCarthy, cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, said seeing cruise ships in the harbour creates “a real sense of positivity”.

“To me, it says we are out again and having fun,” she said. “From a Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown perspective, there is huge potential.”