Dublin is Ireland's largest port and the country's capital city. It is located on the east coast (facing Irish Sea) at the head of a big crescent-shaped bay, sheltered on its southern side by Wicklow Mountains. The city occupies a flat site, bisected west to east by River Liffey.
Many of the historic edifices of Dublin are in the old section of the town, south of Liffey such as the 16th-century Dublin Castle, Protestant cathedral of Christ Church (1038), the Gothic Saint Patrick's Cathedral (1190). Among other striking buildings of Dublin are Trinity College (1592), the Bank of Ireland building (1794, and the old seat of Irish Parliament), 18th-century Customs House, Four Courts (seat of high courts of Ireland), and Leinster House (present seat of the national parliament). One of the world's greatest city parks is Dublin's Phoenix Park. It contains Dublin Zoo (the 3rd-oldest public zoo in the world). The city of Dublin is also renowned for its public houses - the 100 metre long Hole-In-The-Wall is one of t hem and the longest in Europe.
Prominent among the many museums and galleries of Dublin are the National Museum of Ireland, the Natural History Museum, the Dublin Civic Museum, the Dublin Writers' Museum, the National Gallery, Kilmainham Gaol, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art.
Dublin cruise port
In July 2015, Dublin Port Company was granted permission for the "Alexandra Basin Redevelopment" project. It will transform the port's infrastructure and will allow docking of larger-sized cruise vessels by lengthening the berths and dredging / deepening. The project includes approx 3 km of the port’s 7 km (4 mi) of berths. Dredging (deepening) will result in max draft 10 m (33 ft) in the entrance channel.
Project's completion was scheduled for 2020, with total cost around EUR 230 million. The decision came following seaport's report on cargo shipping volumes in 2015. This was a record with imports and exports volume increase of 5% (during the first 1/2 of the year). Imports were growing at 5,6% as the UK economy started to improve.
Dublin is Ireland's largest cargo (and cruise) port. In October 2014, the EU funded the seaport with EUR 2,4 million toward the costs of this project. In June 2015, the European Union additionally funded the company with EUR 22,8 million for the construction works. And finally, the European Investment Bank gave EUR 100 million as long-term debt finance. In 2015, port's ferry passenger traffic was also increased (with 4,8% over 2014) on ferry routes between Dublin and France and UK.
In 2015, the cruise port reported a record year with 98 ship calls and over 200,000 passengers. Among the largest vessels were Royal Princess, Celebrity Silhouette and MSC Splendida (LOA length up to 333 m / 1158 ft). The port redevelopment project will allow even larger cruise ships to turn within the Alexandra Basin and dock close to East Link Bridge. Other planned port improvements included new high capacity firewater pump, Alexandra Quay Container Terminal, new imported cars terminal.
During season 2016, the cruise port handled 103 ship calls and over 180,000 passengers. In 2017, the number of calls grew to 128, with handled around 210,000 passengers and crew.
During season 2018, Celebrity Cruises became the first major cruise shipping company to homeport a vessel here. Celebrity Eclipse (LOA length 313 m / 1027 ft, max capacity 3400 passengers) had scheduled 5 roundtrip itineraries from Dublin (booked departures April 30, and May 10, 20, 29 from Ocean Pier 33 terminal) visiting ports in Norway, Iceland and the UK. Celebrity attracted over 14,000 cruise tourists to these voyages. The Eclipse ship's homeporting resulted in around EUR 6 million economic impact on the city and its surrounding region.
In late-March 2019, Port Dublin announced cruise shipping restrictions for the period 2021-2028. Industry's worth for the port city is estimated EUR 50 million. However, Port Dublin decided to reduce the number of visiting passenger ships (from 2021) allowing only two large cruise ships per week (summer season), only one large liner per week (winter season) and no turnarounds (homeporting operations with roundtrips).
- Dublin Port Company explained its decision with the increased cargo volumes (over 1/3 since 2012) leading to tighter berthing space at the cruise port.
- Due to the planned EUR 1 billion capital works (between 2019-2028) it was introduced a better-balanced berth allocation system for seaport's year-round cargo shipping services and the seasonal cruise vessels.
- In 2018, the cruise port handled 150 ship calls, rising to 163 in 2019.
- From 2021, the port schedules only 80 cruise ship calls/berths annually.
"Port Dublin Masterplan 2040" includes the construction of new cruise berths - based on co-financing and long-term financial guarantees from major cruise ship companies.
For 2017-Q3, "Dublin Port Company" (authority) reported 4,2% growth in general shipping trade. Overall trade volumes grew by 30,1% (2012-2017), with a 5th successive record year. Port's Q3 trade volumes grew by 3,1% (2013), 7,2% (2014), 5,8% (2015), 6,8% (2016), 4,2% (2017).
Total GT (gross tonnage) volume (imports-exports)) for 2017-Q3 was 27,1 million tons, with total 5932 vessel calls in Q3 (9 months period). The increases (2017 over 2016) were:
- Imports (3,5%) - 16 million (15,4+ million)
- Exports (5,2%) - 11,2 M (10,6 M)
- Total volume (4,2%) - 27,1 M (26 M)
- Ro-Ro vessels (5,3%) - 736,462 (699,361) - on the routes between Ireland and UK
- Container ships (4,1% in TEU-containers) - 515,718 (495,511 TEUs)
- Ferries (2,4% in ferry passengers) 1,496025 million (1,460585 M)
- Ferried tourist vehicles (2,7%) - 411,921 (400,949)
- Cruise ships (23,3%) - 127 vessels (103 vessels)
The report showed tourist shipping (ferry and cruise) volumes with a strong growth of 2,4% (ferries) and the impressive 23,3% in cruise liners (record year). Currently, the largest homeported in Dublin Ro-Ro ferry ship is MV Celine (capacity 8000 lanemetres / over 600 freight vehicles) operating on the routes Dublin-Zeebrugge Belgium and Dublin-Rotterdam Holland.
In October 2017, the company Seatruck Ferries (one of Irish Sea's largest freight ferry companies) celebrated 10 years of Dublin Port operations. Starting in 2007, its freight traffic volumes increased over 500% - from 3000 units (2007) to nearly 21,000 units (2017). The company owns the ship Celtic Star and operates 4 daily crossings to Liverpool and 1 daily service to Heysham (Lancashire, England).
In July 2018 was launched "Masterplan 2040 Reviewed 2018" - an update of port's development plan from 2012. Key changes were as follow:
- Port's development is now based on 3,3% average annual growth (changed from 2,5%).
- Port's max capacity in 2040 was increased to 77 million (changed from 60 million GT tons).
- The option of increasing capacity by expanding the seaport eastwards (into Dublin Bay) was ruled out.
The original masterplan included deepening / dredging to max draft 12 m (39 ft) - now changed to max draft 10 m (33 ft). The project also includes developing of Dublin Inland Port (land area approx 44 hectares) located 14 km (9 mi) from the seaport. Its facilities were scheduled for completion in 2019.
In October 2018, Dublin Port Company reported cargo shipping growth 4,7% (28,4 million GT tons) for 2018-Q3 (over 2017-Q3), with imports increase 6% and exports increase 3%.
- Most of the volumes (82%) were RoRo ships (+4,3%, to 768K trailers) and LoLo ships (+5,5%, to 544K TEU-containers).
- New vehicles import grew 6% (to 78K).
- Solid bulk cargo increased by 15,9% (to 1,7 million tons).
- Passenger traffic increased to 1,698760 million (+3,3%).
- Tourist vehicles decreased by 1,5% (405,907).
- Port Dublin handles most of Ireland’s liquid fuels imports (petrol, diesel, aviation fuel). Liquid bulk volumes grew by 9,3% (to 3,4 million tons).
In FY2018 (fiscal year), port’s cargo volumes grew by 4,3% (over FY17) up to 38 million GT-tons, with overall growth 35,7% (over FY13). In 2018 were invested EUR 93 million (in infrastructure developments) and for 2018 were planned EUR 147 million in further investments. Next are listed some FY18 statistics:
- imports (+5,5%) up to 22,7 million GT-tons
- exports (+2,5%) up to 15,3 million GT-tons
- Containers plus freight trailers (82% of port's total cargo trade)
- Ro-Ro shipping (+4%) to 1,032 million wheeled cargo units
- Lo-Lo shipping (+4%) up to 726,000 TEU-containers
- Liquid bulk (+7,8%) up to 4,6 million tons (mainly petroleum products)
- Solid bulk (+16,8%) up to 2,4 million tons (mainly animal feeds and cereals)
- Ferry shipping (-1%) down to 1,828 million passengers, and 0,515 million vehicles (-1,2%) - both due to ferryboat issues
- Cruise shipping (+32%) up to with 150 cruise ship calls (127 in 2017)
- Average cruise vessel size (+10,6%) up to 50,085 GT-tons
Dublin cruise terminal
Smaller cruise ships Dublin dock into the city center, going up on Liffey River.
Large cruise ships in Dublin dock at Alexandra Quay ("Ocean Pier 33" / shown on both photos here. The cruise terminal is located in the port's industrial area. The quay is approx 2 km / 1 mi from downtown.
Most cruise lines offer shuttle bus service - usually at no charge. These free shuttles from the port go to Kildare Street. Regular transportation from the cruise port to downtown is provided by bus line 53.
The distance between the cruise ship terminal and the Luas (Light Rail Tram) stop at The Point is approx 1 mi / 2 km. Trams to the city run every 15 min. This tram stop is located close to the Wheel of Dublin (aka Revolver, a transportable Ferris wheel). Dublin Airport is located approx 6 mi / 10 km north of downtown.
Port Dun Laoghaire Harbour
If the cruise itinerary has Port Dublin listed as "Tendered", it means that disembarkation will be in Dun Laoghaire harbour. This is a small suburban town, located approx 13 km / 8 mi from Dublin's city centre.
- A free shuttle bus service is provided from the port to Dun Laoghaire's railway station. DART trains to Dublin run every 15 min (approx 45 min travel time). In downtown, passengers have 3 stations to leave the train - Pearse Street, Tara Street, and Connelly.
- In 2015 the harbour filed an application for a construction plan to build a new cruise ship berth. The new cruise facility will be able to handle vessels with LOA length up to 340 m (1115 ft) and around 400,000 passengers per year. The port's passenger volume for 2015 was around 100,000.
- The first cruise ship visit in Dun Laoghaire was in 2012. The estimated impact on the local economy is around GBP 27 million.
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