Galway could become a destination for some of the largest cruise ships in the world following the recent visit by leading cruise-line operators from the US and Norway, who have also expressed interest in possibly investing in the redevelopment of Galway Harbour.
This is the view of Fine Gael Galway West TD Brian Walsh who met the executives during their visit to Galway last weekend.
The delegation included representatives of major cruise line operators such as Royal Caribbean International, Crystal Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Compagnie du Ponant, and Carnival Cruise Lines.
While in Galway they held technical meetings with Galway Harbour Company executives, toured the docklands, and visited to a number of key tourism attractions such as Connemara, the Aran Islands, and the Cliffs of Moher.
Dep Walsh said the delegation were “blown away” by their experience of the city and the surrounding area.
“I am very confident, in light of their reaction, that they are very keen to establish Galway as a destination port as soon as possible,” he said.
“It was clear from my discussions with an executive of Royal Caribbean International that their interest in Galway was two-fold, in both incorporating the city as a destination port and investing in the development of the harbour – which is something that they have done elsewhere.”
Dep Walsh said establishing Galway as a destination port for cruise ships could be worth up to €40 million annually to the local economy and would support up to 300 jobs, according to studies conducted on other Irish ports.
“The significance of the cruise-line operators’ interest in Galway cannot be overstated,” he said. “One of the operators recently invested $1.2 billion in a single vessel that can accommodate 5,500 passengers. This would be the equivalent of 14 Boeing 747s landing in the city each time it berths in terms of bringing visitors to the area.”
Fiona Monaghan, head of operations for Fáilte Ireland in the West, also stressed the importance of the visit.
“As a potential port destination for cruise liners such as these, there is huge potential economic benefit for tourism and retail businesses,” she said, “not just in Galway city but for the wider West Region in general.”