Cut in Dublin Port cruise ship berthings a Brexit related ‘blip’

Shane Ross says Belfast Harbour in talks to take on landings between 2021 and 2023

The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship arrives into Dublin Port last year. The Dublin Port Company has been criticised by tourism interests for announcing plans to cut by 50 per cent the number of cruise ships docking in Dublin over the coming years. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

The Celebrity Eclipse cruise ship arrives into Dublin Port last year. The Dublin Port Company has been criticised by tourism interests for announcing plans to cut by 50 per cent the number of cruise ships docking in Dublin over the coming years. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times.

 

The significant reduction in the number of cruise ships allowed into Dublin Port because of preparations for Brexit is a “temporary blip” that will last for no more than two years, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has said.

The Dublin Port Company has been criticised by tourism interests for announcing plans to cut by 50 per cent the number of cruise ships docking in Dublin in the coming years.

It is a consequence of Dublin Port expanding its freight capacity as more container ships are expected to arrive direct from the continent after the UK leaves the EU.

Mr Ross told the Dáil that talks were ongoing with Belfast Harbour about taking on the business lost to Dublin because of the restriction on cruise numbers.

During Dáil questions on transport, Mr Ross said the chief executive of the Dublin Port Company “has made it quite clear that this is a temporary blip”.

‘No intention’

He said “there is no intention that the reduction in the number of cruise ships will last for more than two years. It is expected the numbers will go up subsequently”.

He said cruise ship bookings were already at 140 for 2020 and will “hit a new peak this year” of 160 but would be cut to around 80 in 2021.

Mr Ross told Fianna Fáil transport spokesman Robert Troy that cruise ship numbers would be restricted for three cruise seasons between 2021 and 2023 and the intention was to take 150 cruise ships for the 2024 to 2025 season.

Mr Troy had called for the decision to be reviewed given the potential negative impact on the tourism sector. He pointed out that 442,000 visitors on cruise liners came to Dublin last year, which contributed some €50 million to the economy.

Mr Ross said he would be meeting the main stakeholders two weeks’ time to discuss the issue. He added that the Dublin Port Company “is also considering the potential for a significant additional investment which would increase capacity for cruise liner berthing to over 200 ships”.

He said he had emphasised at a meeting with Dublin Port Company the need to take account of the broader impact of its commercial decisions, including “the effect on sectors supporting the cruise tourism industry or serving cruise visitors, not just in Dublin but in other ports”.