Agents are demanding answers, Clia has voiced its outrage and a cruise line is “reviewing its situation” after Dublin Port decided to cut cruise capacity.
Port authorities announced plans late last week to restrict the yearly number of ship calls to the city to about 80 from 2021 – almost half as many as in 2018.
As part of the restrictions, only two large vessels per week will be allowed during the summer season and one per week in the winter, while turnarounds will be abolished.
Dublin Port Company said the plan was created to “better balance” its allocation of ship berths due to “huge growth” in cargo volume in recent years and the need to pay for infrastructure works.
Eamonn O’Reilly, chief executive of the Dublin Port Company, also cited the need to create space for freight shipping due to Brexit, according to Ireland’s Sunday Independent.
Clia said ending turnarounds would remove 120 calls and 100,000 passengers from the port per year. More than 160 ship calls will take place this year, while 140 are currently scheduled for 2020.
A Princess Cruises spokesperson said it was “reviewing the situation” regarding its Dublin capacity.
Jo Rzymowska, managing director and vice-president, UK and Ireland and Asia Pacific, Celebrity Cruises – the first line to homeport in Dublin in 2017 – said: “[We] urge them to look again at the huge benefits cruise brings to the Irish capital.
“Regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to the Irish market and to our Irish travel partners and guests.”
David Dingle, Carnival UK chair and Clia Europe executive committee member, told TTG the decision “came out of the blue”, believing its cause was “more intricate than simply Brexit”.
“It feels like a lose-lose for them and we need to get around the table with the authorities and stakeholders to dig down into the economic reasons,” he said.
“Cruise calls into Ireland have grown rapidly so it’s a real pity, and we can’t have a fragmented response as a cruise industry.”
Mary McKenna, managing director of Dublin-based Tour America and Cruise Holidays, said the move came as a “huge shock”. She has since written to fellow members of the Dublin Chamber to try to start lobbying to overturn the plans.
“This has been done under the radar and will have serious implications to Dublin and Irish tourism as a whole,” she said.
Fiona Flaherty, of Galway-based Fahy Travel, added: “Cruise from Dublin is a real growing market for us and it’s incredibly frustrating for this to be happening now.”
Sandra Corkin, managing director of Oasis Travel in Belfast, agreed: “It is really disappointing. We do several hundred passengers a year to Dublin and lay on coaches. They are missing the point here with the benefit of tourism for the city,” she said.
However, Dublin Port Company said: “If Dublin Port is to cater for large numbers of cruise ships in the future, new berths will have to be constructed at North Wall Quay Extension, adjacent to the Tom Clark Bridge.
“This will require co-financing and/ or long-term financial guarantees from cruise lines.”