The Port of Cork marked the commencement of its annual cruise season with the docking of the cruise ship, Ambition, kick-starting what is anticipated to be a record year for the industry in the region.

On April 4, the Port of Cork in Cobh, Ireland, celebrated the inaugural voyage of Ambition, operated by Ambassador Cruise Line, as it graced Cork Harbour, initiating the 2024 season.

The vessel’s arrival, on its 12-day “Easter British Isles Discovery” journey, is the first of what the Port of Cork anticipates will be its biggest season to date. This year, the Irish port is set to welcome over 100 cruise ships between April and November, reflecting a 10% increase over 2023.

The official start of the 2024 cruise season marks an exciting time for Cork,” said Conor Mowlds, chief commercial officer at the Port of Cork Company (PoCC) and chairperson of Cruise Ireland. “We are thrilled to welcome Ambition for the first time to the port and look forward to many other maiden calls this year.”

Cruise ship in Cork Harbour (Photo Credit: mikemike10)

Cruise tourism remains a vital component of the local economy, generating an estimated €17 million. The Irish Maritime Development Office reported the average onshore spending by passengers and crew is €81 per passenger and €29 per crewperson.

During Ambition’s call, PoCC held a traditional plague exchange to welcome the new ship. With 680 cabins and the capacity to host 1,200 guests, Ambition highlights the scale the Port of Cork can handle in Cobh’s deep-water quay.

The Port of Cork’s 2024 cruise season is off to a promising start with Ambition’s arrival, and the ship will return again at the end of the month during its “Ireland Discovery” voyage. April will also witness the arrival of two ships simultaneously on April 10 as Holland America Line’s ms Nieuw Statendam and Saga’s Spirit of Discovery call together.

Princess Cruises arrives with its Regal Princess on April 22, and both Celebrity Cruises and Oceania Cruises bring ships to call on April 30. Regal Princess arrives on its 12-night “British Isles” journey, as Sirena calls during its “Seafarer’s Inspiration Miami to Rome” voyage, respectively.

Added Mowlds, “The surge in cruise calls this year reflects the collaborative efforts between the Port of Cork and our local partners, demonstrating our commitment to delivering exceptional services and experiences for local visitors, passengers, and crew.”

Cruise ship in Cork, Ireland (Photo Credit: Riekelt Hakvoort)

In May, Norwegian Cruise Line brings Norwegian Pearl on May 5 and Norwegian Star on May 14, as Princess returns with Regal Princess and introduces Caribbean Princess to the lineup. Holland America also adds more ships, arriving on May 18 with ms Zuiderdam and May 21 with ms Rotterdam. Celebrity Cruises also adds Celebrity Silhouette to the Irish port, as MSC Cruises arrives at the end of the month with MSC Virtuosa.

Princess returns in June as Coral Princess makes her way from a Cape Town to London world cruise. Oceania Cruises also arrives from a Cape Town to Paris voyage, calling on Cork on June 18 with Nautica.

Other cruise lines dropping anchor in Cork through the end of October include Regent Seven Seas, Cunard, Carnival Cruise Line, Seabourn, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Azamara, Silversea, and Disney Cruise Line.

The last arrival slated for the year is British cruise line operator Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. It’s Borealis call on October 27 during its “Canada in the Fall” roundtrip cruise from Southampton. Ambassador’s Ambition will be the first ship to return in 2025.

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