BY BRIAN MOORE
THE cruise ships are coming back to Bantry Bay and with them the promise of an upcoming bumper tourist season for West Cork.
The first of the 2022 season’s 11 liner visits will be the World Explorer which arrives in Bantry on the morning of May 16th and will be followed by nine more ship visits until the end of the season in September.
When the World Explorer arrives, it will bring almost 200 visitors ashore to explore Bantry and the surrounding areas.
‘The Bantry Bay Port Company is delighted to welcome back these cruise liners after a two year absence due to the Covid 19 pandemic,’ harbourmaster Michael Murphy told The Southern Star.
The cruise liner industry is estimated to contribute €70m to the national economy and on average €14m per year to local economies such as Cork which pre-Covid had typically welcomed on average 100 cruise ships per year.
Eileen O’Shea of the Bantry Development and Tourism group added: ‘This is very welcome news after two very challenging years for the industry.
‘We are looking forward to welcoming them to Bantry and as you may be aware Bantry Development & Tourism offer free shuttle service from the pier to the town centre.’
The Port of Cork Company is also confident that there will be a return to almost pre-pandemic levels of cruise calls with approximately 90 cruise ships scheduled to arrive between April and November 2022. Of the 11 cruise liner visits, two of the ships (Sirena, The Spirit of Adventure) will visit the town on three separate occasions.
The Sirena will visit Bantry on June 28th, July 7th and again on July 16th.
The Spirit of Adventure’s first visit will be on May 18th and it will return on July 11th and again on September 16th.
The other ships visiting are the Europa (July 25th), the Seven Seas Voyager (June 26th), Le Champlain (September 4th) and The World on September 10th.
A full itinerary for the ships’ visits can be viewed under the ‘cruise and tourism’ tab on bantrybayport.com.
Each of the ships will be visiting Bantry’s inner harbour, which means they will be clearly visible from the shoreline.