Ships come in as Derry welcomes thousands

The Sea Cloud II.
The Sea Cloud II.

Thousands of cruise ship passengers have been sailing up the River Foyle over the past week, as Derry and Inishowen welcome a succession of large cruise liners.

The five cruise ships- most making their maiden voyage to the north west of Ireland- are due to net £400,000 for the local tourism economy this summer.

Some of the world’s brightest minds arrived into the Foyle last Friday onboard the New York-based Sea Cloud II, docking at Greencastle.

The ship was chartered by a group from Harvard and Yale Universities and the New York Metropolitan Museum, and they were welcomed into Derry with a Mayoral reception at the Guildhall.

They were followed last Sunday by the MS Nautica, which had 800 passengers from America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Aoife McHale, Visit Derry Business and Leisure Tourism Officer, said the ship captain of the Nautica came and met with local dignitaries and availed of the offer of a taxi tour of Derry and a Mayoral reception along with some of his team, while passengers took a variety of tours and spent time in the Craft Village.

Yesterday saw the Pacific Princess arrive with a further 700, mostly American passengers onboard, docking at Lisahally. This Sunday meanwhile will see another 600 coming on the Seabourn Quest , from a company based in Seattle, and a further 800 are due in on the MS Marina on Tuesday.

Aoife and local Foyle Port Captain Bill McCann travel across the US and meet with cruise line companies to promote Derry and the north west as a destination.

“We wanted to make sure Derry was on their radar, and so it is really good to see the ships coming here,” Aoife said.

“We have a welcome initiation with dancers and music at the pier, tourist information and staff on hand, and a shuttle bus that comes into the city throughout the day.

“We offer a whole range of tours across Derry, Donegal, Baronscourt, the Ulster American Folk Park. In Derry they would visit the City Walls, the Guildhall, St Columb’s Cathedral, the Museums and the Murals. We have a Mayoral reception, Irish coffee making and Trad Music classes.

“Our job is about ensuring we deliver a legenderry experience for all passengers from the moment they disembark the ship until they return. There is always the opportunity for them to return and we estimate around 30% of cruise passengers will do so.”