LUXURY expedition ship, Le Dumon D’Urville, made its maiden call to Kinsale on recently with 184 passengers and 111 crew on board.
This was the first time this company included Kinsale in its itinerary and next year, they plan to return with another four cruise ships.
Operated by luxury French cruise company Ponant, the ship is one of the company’s newest, having only been delivered in June of this year.
It features a groundbreaking underwater lounge, located beneath the water line, allowing guests to see, hear and virtually feel marine life in the deep sea.
Guests are predominantly French, although English and American guests are also expected.
The inclusion of Kinsale comes about as a result of a five-year promotional campaign by the County Council to attract more of the rapidly-growing expedition ship market to West Cork’s harbours.
Many of these smaller vessels are luxury or adventure-themed and seek out select destinations where other ships typically do not go and where exceptional experiences are available ashore, making them perfect for West Cork.
In recent years cruise ships have called to Bere Island, Schull and Kinsale, as well as Bantry.
County mayor cllr Christopher O’Sullivan said: ‘A whopping 76% of cruise passengers surveyed in Irish ports in 2016 said that they would be ‘very’ or ‘quite’ likely to return to Ireland on a general holiday, having visited for the first time on a cruise.
‘This means that not only is there immediate economic benefit to attracting these visitors to our harbours, but we’re playing the long game too and hoping they will return as longer staying visitors to our region in the future. Cork’s extensive coastline, the West Cork islands and the fantastic facilities in place in our harbours, make it a very appealing destination for sophisticated cruise clients.’
Meanwhile, German cruise operator Hapag Lloyd will return to Bere Island for the third time on September 29th. with its new, luxury, expedition ship, Hanseatic Nature.
The Port of Cork recently held a seminar in Bantry to promote the value of the industry to the town, and offer suggestions how local tourism and business interests could promote the area to ensure they get slice of this expanding industry.
The Port of Cork also unveiled a new promotional video for the region.