Many Sea Breezes readers will be keenly aware of the historical importance of the Port of Cork in maritime terms. Since the mid 1800’s, trans-Atlantic liners have called to Cork Harbour, most famously were RMS Titanic and RMS Lusitania.
On the 10th April 1912 the Titanic left Southampton bound for New York and on the following day made her scheduled call to Cork Harbour. There on the 11th April she embarked her Irish passengers and the last letters from passengers, crew and owners were posted.
At 2340 hrs on April 14th the Titanic collided with a submerged spur of an iceberg and ripped her starboard side ten feet above the keel for approximately 300 feet. She “lived” for two hours and twenty minutes before sinking, taking 1513 persons with her.
Today the historic town of Cobh’s Cruise Berth and Emigration Centre has seen impressive growth in cruise liner traffic. With its historic links as well as it natural deep-water harbour and excellent shore excursions, the Port of Cork hosts up to 60 cruise liners per year carrying over 100,000 passengers and crew.
Port of Cork Cruise Facilities
The Port of Cork is home to Ireland’s only dedicated cruise berth. Cork is well placed for Northern European cruises. There are no tidal constraints or ships draft issues in a sheltered deep water port, such as Cork – a genuine 24-7 destination.
Currently, cruise ships of up to 350 metres in length can berth at Cobh, the Port of Cork’s dedicated cruise berth. Other berths available within the harbour are Ringaskiddy Deep-water berth (L-480m and 12.5m draft) and Cork City (152m), however both of these berths, while suitable, are commercial berths.
With ample water depth in Cobh, the Port of Cork is currently planning the upgrading of its current dedicated cruise berth, to be able to accommodate the bollard requirements of the Quantum class of cruise liners due in Europe in 2015. The next step after upgrading the current cruise berth is for the Port of Cork to consider a second berth option, in Cobh. (Cobh is owned and operated by the Port of Cork. Some cruise companies refer to their call to the Port of Cork as Cobh, rather than Port of Cork. Cobh is a town within Cork Harbour).
This would allow the Port of Cork to facilitate and manage two cruise liners at a time at dedicated cruise berths, which would mean more calls for Cork and increased passenger numbers. A feasibility study will be carried out over the coming season to determine a location for a second berth and options available to the Port.
Following a decision last year by the Irish Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport under Minister Leo Varadkar, the responsibility of the management and control of Bantry Harbour was transferred to the Port of Cork Company on the 1st January 2014. Through its subsidiary Bantry Bay Port Company, the Port of Cork looks forward to the development of business through this port and in particularly the integration of cruise business between Cork and West Cork. Bantry Bay offers a unique cruising ground for smaller cruise vessels, with excellent shore excursions available for passengers to enjoy the exquisite scenery of West Cork.
The main ferry routes out of Cork is with Brittany Ferries from Cork to Roscoff which runs from March to November. The Port takes a keen interest in promoting its cruise tourism potential. Captain Michael McCarthy from Cork is also the current Chairman of Cruise Europe and kindly assisted me by providing much of the information used in this article.