Saturday 20 January 2018

Cruise ship towers over city skyline

Dublin Port welcomes biggest ever vessel carrying 3,200 passengers

Ryan Nugent

For 12 hours yesterday Liberty Hall was dwarfed on the capital's skyline as Dublin Port welcomed its biggest ever ship, the 67m-tall MSC Splendida.

It might have been early morning but welcoming céilí dancers performed on the quayside as 3,247 tourists descended from the cruise ship to give the capital a brief but significant financial boost.

Of the 83 cruise ships that will stop over in Dublin this year, no other is expected to put so much pressure on the port's operational limits.

Officials at Dublin Port have spent weeks plotting the ship's path into the narrow port.

"We first had 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, but credit must be given to the skills of our pilots and the masters of our tugs," said Captain David Dignam of Dublin Port.

The 11th largest cruise ship in the world has more than a dozen bars across 18 decks, with regular live music and discos.

The MSC Splendida towers over the Poolbeg chimneys as it enters Dublin Port
The MSC Splendida towers over the Poolbeg chimneys as it enters Dublin Port
Crew members Jovana Dabic, Tijana Stepanovic, Darko Penovski and Ivana Peresic from Serbia get ready for shore leave
Paddy Long Legs greating tourist Alexandra Sytnytska from Ukraine to Dublin

The ship also has four swimming pools, a number of squash courts and a Formula One simulator, providing guests with a good mix of entertainment. You won't get bored on board.

The cruise began in Hamburg and arrived in Dublin via the Netherlands and Scotland, with 85pc of travellers coming from Germany.

Although the voyage was well under way, Doris and Wolfgang Hirsch were still overwhelmed.

"The ship is absolutely super. There's great service and beautiful rooms. There are so many bars, swimming pools and then if you get bored in the evening, you can go to the cinema. It really is amazing," said Ms Hirsch.

Stephanie Peter (30), from Dusseldorf, was travelling with her mother, Elizabeth and was impressed with the sights she took in, none more so than Trinity College, while she was pleasantly surprised by the sunny conditions in the city.

"I was surprised by the weather. I thought it would rain. We had a great time, and visited Dublin Castle and Trinity College.

"I have studied in Germany but I wish I came to Dublin to study because Trinity College is amazing," said Ms Peter.

She has had some experience on-board this particular cruise ship - so, unlike some guests, she never got lost on the massive vessel.

However, the on-board fun was not limited exclusively to passengers, with cabin crew members Bogdan Lada and Sviatoslav Victrov, insisting that they get some downtime from looking after the guests.

"The ship has everything. We have a lot of musicians on-board that perform a lot of different kinds of music," said Bogdan.

"We get a few hours every day to visit places like Dublin, and we also have staff parties and discos."

The Splendida left for Cork last night but another ship is already taking its place. Dun Laoghaire's port will host the marginally smaller Royal Princess cruise ship, which was due to dock at 6am today and will staying until 6pm.

The MSC Splendida is 333 metres in length, 67 metres high and weighs 137, 936 tonnes.

So it's hardly surprising that the 3,247 passengers and 1,370 crew members are rarely stuck for entertainment. There are 1,637 rooms, including 71 suites in the VIP area and guests can avail of a 24-hour butler service.

The ship was built in 2009 and facilities include four swimming pools, a squash court and a Formula One simulator all on board.

It docks in Cork today and then Southampton in England.

Irish Independent

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