€200m plan could boost cruise ship business at port
Dublin Port can look forward to accommodating up to three luxury cruise ships at one time if it gets the green light on an ambitious €200m project to develop Alexandra Basin.
The port company is waiting to see if it will get permission to embark on rebuilding around 3km of its quay walls and dredging the bay to allow for longer and deeper vessels to berth comfortably.
The project - which could take up to six years to complete - would provide space for two Quantum class cruise ships, which are 350m long, as well as a medium-sized liner.
Explaining the details of the project, Charlie Murphy of the Dublin Port Company said it would be a massive draw to the increasingly lucrative tourism sector.
"We can accommodate vessels to a depth of 7.5 metres at low tide, that is our Lowest Astronomical Tide (LAT) at the moment, but we would be planning to dredge that down to 10 metres," he told the Herald.
"That would mean we could operate to a depth of 10 metres at low tide and 14 metres at high tide."
Part of the plan is then to have pockets within the quay walls that a ship would berth into which would have a constant depth that was not depending on tidal times.
"By dredging the bay we would also have to pile-drive under the quay walls to strengthen them.
"We have been through the consultation process on this and the matter is now with An Bord Pleanala. But if we got the go-ahead we hope it would all be completed in around five or six years," he added.
Chief executive of Dublin Port Company, Eamonn O'Reilly, said he was fully confident that the investment would be worthwhile.
"We are completely confident that we are not building white elephants. We know they will be used," he said.
"Ports are a little bit like the oil in your engine - you need them but you don't particularly like them necessarily. For us the key thing we are trying to do is provide the infrastructure.
"We are a publicly-owned company, but our role is to provide the infrastructure and step back, let private sector companies work in the markets, work against each other, make investments, put on the ships, and the model has worked really well in Dublin Port."