For those interested in the fascinating and ever expanding world of cruising, the Port of Cork plays host to six cruise liners during the week commencing Sunday, 25 August. Three of these vessels are due to arrive on Sunday with one vessel at the North Custom House Quay in the city, a second at Ringaskiddy Deepwater Terminal, while the third will berth at the Cobh Cruise Terminal. In total approximately 5000 cruise passengers will visit Cork and enjoy the attractions of Cobh, Cork city, Blarney Castle and Woollen Mills, the Jameson Heritage Centre at Midleton, Kinsale, the Lakes of Killarney and the Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre. German owned Hapag Lloyd’s compact but stylishly designed 420 passenger capacity Columbus will berth at the North Custom House Quay at 8am and will depart at 5pm. British owned Saga Cruises’ Saga Ruby with its 675 passengers will berth at Ringaskiddy at 9am and sail at 6pm.

Perhaps Sunday’s biggest attraction will be American owned Royal Caribbean’s 138,000 ton Navigator of the Seas making her third call to the Port of Cork this year. Measuring 1020 feet in overall length and carrying approximately 3500 passengers in addition to a crew of 1200, she is the largest cruise vessel ever to call at the Port of Cork. Described as a revolutionary masterpiece, the vessel features a rock climbing wall, a full size basketball court, an ice-skating rink, an in-line skating track, a five-storey theatre, a miniature golf course and a spectacular three-storey main dining room in addition to three specialty restaurants.

Three further cruise ships will call to the Cobh Cruise Terminal next week. On Wednesday American based but Japanese owned five star cruise line, Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Symphony with its 1000 passengers will berth at 8am and depart at 6pm. On Thursday British owned exploration vessel Discovery and its 700 passengers will berth at 9am and sail at 7pm while on Friday the 600 passenger capacity five star ship Deutschland will berth at 6pm.

Meanwhile the Port of Cork is enjoying a record year in terms of number of cruise ship calls and visiting cruise passengers. By season’s end the port will handle 39 cruise ships, while most significantly, cruise passenger throughput is expected to increase by over 10,000 passengers or over 30% to approximately 45,000 cruise passengers. As in recent years, 2007 sees almost the entire world’s leading cruise lines calling at Cork. Cruise traffic provides a major economic stimulus to the economies of the city and county of Cork, together with the neighbouring counties of Kerry and Waterford. An independent economic impact study undertaken by the Centre for Policy Studies, University College Cork found that the regional economic contribution of the Port of Cork’s cruise business in 2004, when the port handled 36 cruise ships and 33,500 cruise passengers, amounted to €28 million and supported 204 full time equivalent jobs. Consequently, a conservative estimate of the economic value of the port’s cruise business this year in terms of direct and indirect expenditure is approximately €35million.