This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Cork will have a record-breaking cruise season in 2018, welcoming 180,000 guests and 95 ships to the port. This included eight maiden calls, highlighted by operators like Disney Cruise Line.
International cruise tourism has seen significant growth in Cork, which has generated economic benefits. This has been achieved through formal collaboration with the cruise lines to understand their strategy and delivering a quality product to the passengers when they disembark in Cork.
Globally, cruise tourism has shown exceptionally strong growth in passenger numbers in recent years. There are 110 newbuild cruise ships expected to enter service over the next decade, which will increase the number of passengers worldwide by over 50%. The demand for cruise itineraries in Britain and Ireland has shown particularly strong growth but, with the Brexit negotiations reaching a critical stage, it is vital for the cruise and port industries to work together in partnership to sustain this trend. It is also vital in setting up a dialogue between port and cruise lines, so they can jointly work on an agenda enabling sustainable growth over a long period.
Despite major developments being planned in port facilities, the destination remains the prime driver in the cruise passenger’s decision to buy a specific cruise. Most ports in Europe are urban ports and bridging the gap between the port and the city is one of the main challenges, particularly when it comes to monitoring the environmental impact of the cruise activity.
The serious scale increase of ocean-going ships requires more investment in new more sophisticated port infrastructure to satisfy the demand for more capacity. Investments in port infrastructure is very costly and susceptible to a number of serious risks. As the Port of Cork is on the path of providing more cruise related multi-function infrastructure, it is crucial for the destination to understand the cruise business. This requires the collaboration of local government, politicians, private investors and other stakeholders to better understand the business and how cruise can generate real benefits for the Cork regions. It has to be emphasised that cruising brings real economic benefits for the whole destination and its communities, not just the port.
The time-consuming nature of the planning and permitting procedures for port infrastructure often conflicts with the decision of cruise lines to build new and bigger ships. However, the Port of Cork is confident that, due to its strategic geographical location, it provides the perfect link in the chain for relocation cruises from the Mediterranean, the US, Canada, Iceland and Northern Europe.
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