Dublin port authority plans to cut the number of cruise calls to the city in half from 2021.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Dublin port company said that following the rising number of cruise ships stopping at the port, and what it describes as a “huge growth” in cargo volumes (up 36 per cent in the six years to 2018), it will limit the number of cruise ships that can stop there annually to 80. There are 160 cruise ships due to stop at the port in 2019 and 140 bookings for far for 2020.
Andy Harmer, Cruise Line International Association’s (CLIA) UK and Ireland Director, said: “[The Dublin Port Authority’s] decision to reduce their presence in the Irish cruise sector is very disappointing.
“The number of cruise calls will dramatically drop across all Irish ports as a result of the Port of Dublin’s plans. We urge the port to reconsider its decision and to work with the Irish Government and the cruise industry to build cruise tourism sustainably across Ireland moving forward.”
From 2021, the number of cruise ships that can stop in Dublin will be managed according to a new Cruise ship berthing and pricing policy.
Mr Harmer added that this new “extremely restrictive regime is very worrying.”
CLIA said that the changes will effectively limit the number of cruise ship calls per week, to:
- Two large cruise ships in the summer season
- One per week in the winter
- Zero turnarounds (a stop where passengers first join or finally leave the ship)
The Dublin Port Authority said: “Because of the huge growth in cargo volumes […] and the impact of the major programme of capital works in Dublin Port (€1 billion from 2019 to 2028) it is necessary for Dublin Port Company (DPC) to introduce a system to better balance the allocation of berths for essential year-round cargo services and for seasonal cruise ships.”
The port authority said that to a cater for more cruise ships in the future, new berths would need to be built and that this would require require co-financing or long-term financial guarantees from cruise lines.
CLIA estimates that stopping so-called turnarounds in Dublin will remove 120 calls and 100,000 passengers from the port.
It said that that loss equates to approximately a €10 million loss in tourist revenue for Dublin alone, and will create a knock on effect at the other ports across the island of Ireland.
CLIA’s latest economic impact study into the contributions of cruise tourism to the economies of Europe found that each visit at a European port generates an average total expenditure of around €90 for passengers and crew. This rises to €294 for embarking passengers, when including their airfare.
Direct cruise industry expenditures in Ireland accounted to several million euros in 2017, placing Ireland in the top 15 countries in the European continent.
A number of other European cruise ports have taken steps to curb the number of ships that stop there. In 2017, the mayor of Dubrovnik capped the number of daily cruise ship visitors at 4,000.
Meanwhile, other cities have introduced tourist taxes or updated tourist taxes to target cruise visitors. Most recently, Amsterdam introduced a tax of €8 per person for visitors staying 24 hours or less – a cost that cruise operators pay and which is then passed onto customers.