Port of Waterford looking forward to summer cruises

The Celebrity Silhouette, with 1500 crew and a capacity for 2850 passengers, will drop anchor off Dunmore East on Saturday, June 13th and Thursday, August 13th.

The Celebrity Silhouette, with 1500 crew and a capacity for 2850 passengers, will drop anchor off Dunmore East on Saturday, June 13th and Thursday, August 13th.

A total of 17 cruise ship visits, with the potential to carry 14,000 passengers, are scheduled to drop anchor in Waterford between May and September.

Five of the visits shall see ships berthed on the city’s North Quay, the Port of Waterford at Belview is set to receive four passenger vessels while Dunmore East will accommodate eight cruise ships, and tourists aplenty!

The season begins on Tuesday, May 19th when the Ocean Diamond (250 passengers, 100 crew) docks on the North Quay, while the Sea Adventurer (122 passengers, 77 crew) will arrive at Dunmore East on May 21st.

On Tuesday, May 26th, the 90-metre long Island Sky (118 passengers, 78 crew) arrives on the North Quay (it shall return on June 18th) while the Seven Seas Voyager (700 passengers, 451 crew) will dock at Belview on Monday, June 8th.

On Saturday, June 13th, the 315-metre Celebrity Silhouette (2850 passengers, 1500 crew) makes the first of two summer visits to Dunmore East, the other being on Thursday, August 13th.

June will be the busiest month of the cruise season, with four vessels anchoring at Dunmore, with two respective sailings each due into the North Quay and Belview.

Two cruise ships are due at Dunmore in July, namely the Crystal Serenity (1096 passengers, 655 crew) on the 27th and the Marina (1258 passengers, 800 crew) on Friday, July 31st.

In addition to the Celebrity Silhouette, the Voyager (556 passengers, 215 crew) and Silver Cloud (296 passengers, 222 crew) will dock locally in August, on the 27th and 29th respectively.

The final cruise ship of the tourist season shall arrive at Belview on Monday, September 14th in the guise of the Black Watch (820 passengers, 330 crew).

The Port of Waterford, now under the Chairmanship of Des Whelan, is the fourth largest port in the Republic.
The Port can, as Mr Whelan told the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, “cater for ships of up to 4,000 tonnes and 190 metres in length. Ships carrying loads of up to 20,000 tonnes are common and ships with a draft of up to nine metres can be catered for either side of high tide. The port is currently served by a twice-weekly container vessel service to Rotterdam, via Dublin and Cork”.

Addressing the Committee on September 17th last, Mr Whelan stated: “Waterford Port has the full support of Kilkenny County Council and Waterford City and County Council, along with other key public and private sector stakeholders. There is no doubt that a thriving port can facilitate economic recovery in the south east while benefitting from increased overseas trade.

“The Port of Waterford depends on imports and exports and, like many businesses in the south east, it was severely affected by the recession. Turnover peaked in 2008 at €12 million and revenues are now at half that figure.

“Waterford Port made a loss from 2009 to 2012 but following a major restructuring, which saw staff numbers reduced from 49 to 27, the port made a profit of over €900,000 in 2013. This compares to a loss of €1.2 million in 2012.

“Tonnage through the port of Waterford in 2013 amounted to 1,430,000 tonnes and the port’s share of the bulk market in Ireland increased last year to three per cent.”

Mr Whelan added: “The port does face many challenges. It carries a substantial pension deficit, which now stands at €7.2 million. That has reduced over the past three years from €10.9 million.

“Following the storms of (January and February 2014), dredging costs (have) doubled for 2014 and 2015. The port must also replace its current CEO, Stan McIlvenny, who retires (this year) and it is to be hoped that the remuneration package will allow a high-quality successor to be secured.”

While not having the deep water city centre berthing advantages which the ports of Dublin, Cork and Belfast can boast of, one would expect the new Chief Executive, when appointed, to work closely with Mr Whelan and the Board when it comes to boosting cruise visits.

This season, Dublin Port will accommodate 82 passenger vessels during the traditional April-September tourist season, while Cork is scheduled for 54 cruise arrivals. Belfast, in the midst of a tourism boom, is due to host approximately 100 cruise ships this year alone.

Dermot Keyes

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