The Port of Cork Company held a cruise seminar today to highlight the need for a united approach within the Cork Cruise business and to announce the first turnaround cruises from Cork expected in 2012.

While the port said its role is to facilitate the safe and efficient berthing to all vessels, it finds itself increasingly acting as a tourism body promoting the region to the cruise companies, attending trade exhibitions, meeting attractions and tourist providers and insuring new shore excursions are being offered. As the cruise business continues to grow, a wider and united approach is needed, the port stated, with city and county councils, tour operators, travel agents, local tourism organisations and attractions, to promote the region and the activities which cruise passengers can enjoy during their visit.

In 2010 at a previous cruise seminar, the Port of Cork announced its aim to grow the cruise business over the next five years to 75 cruise calls and to encourage cruise companies to use Cork as a turnaround port.

At this year’s seminar, the port announced that in 2012 two companies will offer turnaround cruise calls. MSC Cruises and Hebridean Island Cruises will operate cruises in August and September. MSC will sail to Hamburg, Amsterdam, Scotland, Dublin and back to Cork, while Hebridean Island Cruises will focus on the West coast of Ireland.

Speaking at the cruise seminar, held in Fota Island Resort, Captain Michael McCarthy Port of Cork said: ‘The two turnaround calls in 2012 are very exciting and we are delighted that the cruise business is growing, following our efforts and investment over the years. We now have Ireland’s only dedicated cruise berth, capable of handling the largest liners afloat today and we must now capitalise on working together and offering more to attract the cruise lines. It’s imperative that there is a united approach so that when a ship calls we are able to promote all that is happening in the city, the county and the wider region directly to the cruise passengers.’

He continued: ‘We are currently undergoing a strategic review of our cruise berth and we hope to have this completed in 2012.  We also recognize that the region is the biggest benefactor from this business with at least €20 Million being generated both directly and in-directly, hence the need for a united approach.’

Since 1991 Port of Cork passenger and crew numbers have grown by nearly 85,000. Cruise bookings for 2012 have already exceeded 2011 calls and potentially could be the busiest yet for the Port of Cork.