The first of this season’s cruise ships arrived into Greencastle on Friday morning, as Foyle Port has announced that the number of liners calling here will more than double during 2023.
A total of 10,600 passengers will arrive into Lough Foyle over the next five months.
The Seabourn Ovation was the first of 15 ships arriving this year, compared to just seven in 2022 after Covid.
The luxurious 210-metre Ovation can carry 600 passengers and 450 crew members.
The visit to Lough Foyle is part of a 14-day round trip from Dover in the south of England.
Foyle Port will receive maiden calls from eight ships this year, including the newly refurbished Renaissance making her inaugural voyage under French cruise company, Compagnie Française de Croisières.
Luxury cruise line Explora Journeys is set to launch a brand-new cruise ship, Explora I, in July.
It will visit Foyle Port during its second ever week of cruising this August.
The next ship due to dock at Greencastle is the Sylvia Earle, which is scheduled for a May 25 arrival.
Built in 2022, the MS Sylvia Earle is a smaller, ice-strengthened expedition vessel with capacity for around 130 passengers.
‘We are thrilled’
Foyle Port Chief Executive Brian McGrath said it was fantastic to see the demand in leisure vessels returning following what has been a very challenging time for the industry.
“We are thrilled to begin our 2023 cruise season with the welcome arrival of the Seabourn Ovation.”
“We are delighted to have doubled our cruise calls this year with 15 ships and a total of 10,600 passengers from now until October – and we look forward to welcoming international visitors to our beautiful north-west shores.”
Other cruise lines scheduled to call at the port include Azamara Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Crystal Cruises and Silversea Cruises.
Of the 15 cruise ships this year, eight vessels will dock at Greencastle, while seven smaller cruise ships will dock further south at Lisahally.
Niamh McCarthy, Managing Director of Excursions Ireland, said: “We are always so honoured and excited to be a part of the operations in this wonderful port in one of the most spectacular regions on our beautiful island. As the local tour operator, we have come a long way since the 1990s, when the first of the ships called in this region.”
“Through the wonderful work of the port authority and tourist information centre this area has become a firm favourite for visiting overseas cruise lines. We look forward to showing these guests all the gems that the north west of Ireland has on offer.”