27 April 2023
By Mary Bermingham
Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr. Danny Collins has welcomed ‘L’Austral’ to Kinsale as the first cruise ship of the season. The luxury expedition ship owned by French company ‘Ponant’ arrived on April 26th with 185 passengers on board who enjoyed unobstructed views of the iconic Charles Fort from their anchorage.
Arriving ashore on tender boats, delighted passengers enjoyed traditional music by young musicians from Ballinspittle Comhaltas accompanied by Irish dancers on the pier.
Mayor Collins commented, “I am delighted to welcome the first cruise ship of the season to Kinsale and to West Cork. We have so much to offer cruise visitors in Cork County, from stunning landscapes and fascinating history to vibrant culture and delicious cuisine. I am confident that our guests from L’Austral had a memorable experience in Kinsale and I look forward to welcoming many more cruise visitors to our shores in the coming months.”
The ship was on an 8-day, one-way itinerary from Bordeaux to Dublin that sailed along the French Atlantic coast, continued to Cornwall before coming to Kinsale, its last stopover before continuing to the capital.
Passengers were welcomed to Kinsale by Cllr. Marie O’Sullivan, Chair of Cork County Council’s Bandon-Kinsale Municipal District, “Cork is Ireland’s Maritime Haven, and few places have the facilities, environment, people, and culture that we have to offer to cruise visitors. These cruise tourists are more likely than any others to return for a holiday to a destination they visit on a cruise. This is one of the reasons why Cork County Council is so active in promoting the region as a cruise destination.”
Visitors chose from various organized tours, including a Culinary Walking Tour of Kinsale, a visit to Charles Fort and the Old Head of Kinsale, and a visit to the Jameson Distillery. Some of the guests also spent time discovering the town of Kinsale independently. Local Kinsale businesses, Kinsale Mead and KoKo Kinsale chocolates provided departing guests with a taste of Kinsale to take away.
There are six cruise calls scheduled for Cork County Council’s harbours this season. In addition, Bantry’s season begins on May 22nd with the first of thirteen scheduled calls. Castletownbere, a town usually associated with fishing, will also welcome a cruise ship on May 20th.
The next cruise ship at Kinsale is another Ponant ship, the Dumont d’Urville, which returns having first visited in 2019. With capacity for 185 guests, this cruise in association with Smithsonian Journeys, features notable experts and experiences that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife.
In total, West Cork will receive 20 cruise calls in 2023, representing a potential 8,300 cruise visitors to the region. This is up on 2019’s figures when 12 cruise ships and 6,400 passengers included West Cork in their itineraries.