Liner’s arrival makes a splash

by Gazette Reporter
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THE long-anticipated arrival of the Queen Mary 2 into Dun Laoghaire Harbour proved to be a great success, according to locals, politicians and Dun Laoghawire Harbour Company.
Approximately 4,000 passengers and crew sailed into Dun Laoghaire at around 7am and stayed moored in the harbour until 6pm on Thursday, May 16.
Those at the event included a welcome yacht, on which photographers and politicians circled the massive cruise liner as it entered the harbour.
Over the next two months, six more cruise vessels are expected to visit Dun Laoghaire Harbour as the area launches itself as a cruise destination proper, with a total of 14 liners expected over the full summer season.
One of those on hand on the day was Gerry Dunne, chief executive of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, who said: “This is an historic day for Dun Laoghaire harbour and augurs well for our plans to develop the harbour as the key port along the east coast for cruise visits.
“The cruise line business is a growing market sector in tourism. Ireland has begun to capitalise on this market and, over the past few years, has succeeded in attracting a growing number of visits by cruise liners.
“However, the number of trips to Ireland represents a very small share of this potential market and the opportunity exists to grow this business to the Irish economy very significantly.”
Councillor Patricia Stewart (FG) said: “We’ve all been very supportive of the local business association and the harbour company in their attempts to bring cruise liners into the area, and it has been very successful.
“Hundreds of passengers came off the liner at the Coal Pier and were welcomed from the tender boats with a reception party.  A delegation from the council went onto the ship and people on board also welcomed them.
“I hope there will be even more liners next year as there has been a fall-off in ferry activity and ferries seem no longer to be viable.
“We’ve a huge cultural offering for these visitors, such as the Joyce Museum, the Maritime Museum and the Dalkey Heritage Museum, as well as the archaeology of Dun Laoghaire itself.”
Dunne went on to outline the strategy now being undertaken by Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company. He said: “Working with the Dun Laoghaire Cruise stakeholder group, the Harbour Company has engaged in a vigorous marketing campaign, particularly in the United States, to enable Dun Laoghaire to tap into this lucrative market.”
Don McManus, chairman, Dun Laohgaire Business Association, said: “One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but the feedback we’ve got from the visit of the Queen Mary 2 has been very positive.
“All the stakeholders put a welcome pack together for the passengers and staff, including details on businesses from Dalkey to Monkstown.
“We also [brought] … free wifi onto the ship, for which the captain was very grateful.
“I met the captain and he said everyone on board thought Dun Laoghaire had a very suitable ambience, with the beauty of the harbour and the backdrop of the hills.
“The Minister for Tourism, Leo Varadkar’s recent Ports Policy document outlined that Dun Laoghaire’s mandate should be in the leisure and tourist industry.
“We have only scratched the surface of what we can achieve in this area,” he said.

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