Another First Cruiseship Calls, this time to Dublin Port following Ending of Covid Travel Restrictions

The first cruiseship to visit Dubin Port this season arrived this morning, marking a momentous return of this tourism sector to the Irish capital and not seen since March 2020, as Covid travel restrictions were revoked last month, writes Jehan Ashmore.

The season’s inaugural cruiseship Hamburg, with German passengers had departed at the ships’ namesake city as part of an England-Ireland-Scotland cruise. The ship operating in the high-end of the market, included yesterday’s anchorage call Afloat tracked to Hugh Town, St. Mary’s, the largest of the Isles of Scilly archipelago.

The last caller to Dublin Port occurred just before Covid19 struck the nation, when Saga Cruises veteran cruiseship Saga Sapphire berthed at Ocean Pier. Afloat reported then (see Belfast story) which also referred to a Dublin call due on 11th March (which did take place).In addition three days later with a call to Cobh, Cork Harbor despite Covid related fears.

The cruise ship Hamburg berthed on the northside of the River Liffey in Dublin Port Photo: Afloat

As for Hamburg’s call to Dublin, berthing took place at North Quay Extension next to the Thomas Clarke (East-Link) bridge. This is where smaller cruisesehips are allocated berths further upriver on the Liffey and which is closer to the city-centre with the Red Luas Line providing a convenient travel option.

Operator of the 400 capacity cruiseship is Plantours Kreuzfahrten based in Bremen, from where the German travel agency also runs river-based cruise vessels. The six passenger deck Hamburg was renovated in 2020 and according to SeaScanners, works included a new pool bar, though an internet cafe and card room were removed as a new shop was added. Some of the oceanview staterooms and suites on deck 4 and 5 are now equipped with lowerable windows.

Originally, Hamburg was Hapag-Lloyd Cruises ship the Columbus completed in 1997 until ownership transferred a decade ago to the Conti Group, with Plantours operating the ship. It is also a decade ago when Afloat covered the cruiseship’s maiden ‘Irish’ port of call when under the new owners.

By coincidence, Saga Sapphire was also with Hapag-Lloyd as their Eurupa, but this handsome ship is not to be confused with the current ship of the same name dating to 1999.

In 2019, the year before the pandemic, a total number of 158 cruise vessels visited Dublin Port, though due to the ‘cap’ placed on considerably larger cruiseships, a spill-over effect is to see more than 70 cruiseships make anchorage calls off Dun Laoghaire Harbour. Noting in early March, the first cruiseship in Irish waters since the restictions ended saw Viking Venus visit off the harbor where tenders ferried cruise-goers ashore.

The reason for curtailing cruiseships to Dublin Port as Afloat previously reported, from rising freight volumes and the need to create space due to Brexit meant that trade (direct to European mainland) was needed to be prioritised over tourism.

As Afloat reported this week, the new UK operator, Ambassador’s Cruise Line made its maiden-mini cruise as Ambassador visited Hamburg, with the ship returning to London (Tilbury).

Also as then alluded, a German cruise operator was due to call to London aswell as Ireland and this Afloat revealed today is by Plantours Hamburg. Afloat had prior to the Irish call, tracked Hamburg in the southern North Sea having departed downriver of the River Elbe when berthed alongside the city’s Quartiar Baarkenhafen.

The Hamburg’s next port of call, London involved heading upriver of the Thames to the Pool of London. This is where the 144m cruiseship moored alongside HMS Belfast and is nearby of the Limerick ketch Ilen (see Limerick-London voyage).

Afloat subsequently tracked the ketch’s completion when berthed at St. Katherine’s Pier.

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