Cruise Control

A bird's-eye view of the plan to boost the flow of ships (and tourist cash) into Dublin

A decision on the ambitious plan is expected in the next few months. It could open Dublin up to even the world’s largest cruise ships.

THERE WAS PLENTY of back-slapping down at Dublin Port last Monday, as the largest cruise liner to dock in the city – the MSC Splendida – tied up, at Ocean Pier.

Up until this week, the port’s operational capacity was set at around 300 metres. At 330 metres – quite a bit of research had to be done to make sure the Splendida would be able to be brought in safely. Monday’s docking was the result of some intense planning by port officials – the captain of the luxury liner even flew over to Ireland in advance, to practice the ship’s approach on a simulator.

Because of its size, the liner wasn’t able to turn in the Liffey, and (as planned) reversed in – so it could sail out bow-forwards.

Largest Cruise ship MSC Splendida The MSC Splendida arrives in Dublin. Photocall Ireland Photocall Ireland

As Dublin Port Company executives explained on the day, the measures taken this week are part of a temporary solution only. As part of a large-scale redevelopment plan for the Alexandra Basin, it’s planned that much larger cruise liners will be able to sail even further up the Liffey – to the East Link Bridge.

A decision on whether or not the ambitious project will get the green light is expected later this year – and if the Port gets the go-ahead, the radical reconfiguration of facility could be in place by the end of 2020.

From the 15th deck of the Splendida, the Port’s Pat Ward talked through the plan – which would allow even the world’s biggest cruise ships, up to and including the 360 metre ‘Allure of the Seas‘, to access the Liffey. If you’re interested in the impact the project could have on the area – it’s well worth taking a quick look…

Video / YouTube

“We submitted in March of 2014 and we’re hoping for An Bord Pleanála to reach whatever decision it reaches within the next couple of months,” Dublin Port CEO Eamon O’Reilly said.

It’s planned the €200 million redevelopment will create around 200 jobs during the construction period – and that it will lead to a 30 per cent increase in port volume within the decade following its construction.

Some 3km of quay walls would have to be rebuilt as part of the overhaul. Dredging would also take place to allow an extra 2.2 metres of depth in the approach to the Liffey, from Dublin Bay.

A planning hearing last October heard that environmental impact studies had been submitted by the port company alongside the planning application. A range of interest groups – including residents associations and environmental groups – also sent in written submissions.

Read: 16 things we learned when the ‘most beautiful ship in the world’ came to Dublin >

Read: From 1000 AD to Samuel Beckett: Dublin’s bridges in 10 fascinating facts…

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