Ocean Nova first cruise liner to pull into Cape Clear
A new era in tourism dawned in West Cork following the first visit of a cruise ship to Cape Clear and Schull.
The Ocean Nova dropped anchor off Cape Clear before the bank-holiday weekend, with a group of 70 bird watchers onboard.
It marked the start of a summer season which will see some 12 cruise ship calling to West Cork’s harbours and islands, bringing approximately 5,000 visitors into the region.
Ocean Nova guests were escorted by guides from Birdwatch Ireland which man an important bird observatory on the island, on visits to some of the island’s prime birdlife, wildlife, and marine life viewing spots.
While the main focus of the visit was birdwatching, they also visited the island’s museum and its impressive exhibit on the building of the iconic Fastnet Rock.
The ship later charted a course around the Fastnet before entering Schull Harbour, the first time a cruise ship has called there. Coaches brought passengers to the Mizen Head Signal Station and visitor centre on the stunning headland.
The cruise ship’s call follows a decision by Cork County Council to pursue cruise ship tourism.
In 2016, Bere Island was included in the itinerary of a German cruise company, Hapag Lloyd Cruises, a visit which proved so successful that they are due to return on May 18 and twice next year.
The chief executive of Cork County Council, Tim Lucey, said Cork is unique in that it can offer a cruise company one type of experience in Cobh and a completely different experience as they sail west to Bantry, Glengarriff, and the islands.
“The feedback we receive from the cruise companies and their guests confirm that what we have in West Cork is world class and we are confident that more such business will follow,” he said.
Meanwhile, planning permission has been granted for a 216m quay extension project on Dinish
The new project is being undertaken in tandem with the development of a new harbour administration building on the mainland which will bring the facilities in Ireland’s premier white fish port up to best international standards. Island in Castletownbere.
The first cruise ship to call to Cape Clear, off West Cork, the Ocean Nova. ‘What we have in West Cork is world class and we are confident that more such business will follow,’ says Tim Lucey.