Wexford counts cost after cruise ship visit cancelled
COUNTY Wexford is counting the cost after the planned visit of the German cruise ship Albatros was called off because of bad weather.
The ship, with 900 passengers on board, was due to drop anchor off Rosslare Port last Wednesday, however, with a strong south-westerly blowing and a dire weather forecast, the visit was cancelled.
'We could't have allowed it to happen, the wind was just too much,' said Rosslare Port Captain Aedan Jameson.
He said the fact that it wouldn't have been safe for the passengers to have been transferred from the ship anchored a mile offshore, underpinned the need for more investment at Rosslare Port and the need for a berth capable of handling ships with deep draughts.
'A lot of people had done a lot of work and it's very disappointing,' he said. The next cruise ship due at the port is the Braemar which is scheduled for July next year and which, because of its shaller draught, should be able to berth in the port.
While, individual businesses, the Irish National Heritage Park, Wells House and the Hook Lighthouse lost potential income as a result of the cancelled, the biggest loser is Waterford-based tour operator Harvey Travel.
'The loss is a major loss to us the tour operator which put the package together, the guides, the coaches and the stops,' said Managing Director Sean Power.
He said extensive preparations had gone into the planned visit, including bringing German-speaking tour guides to the Model County to learn about Wexford's tourist attractions.
'We had 17 tour guides and coaches and because it was a maiden call, we had put quite an investment into it,' he said.
'Anytime there's a tendering operation, its vulnerable,' he said.
Mr Power complimented all of those people in Wexford his company had dealt with in preparing for the visit. 'We had magnificent cooperation, the people of Wexford put a huge effort into this,' he said.
The tour operator said he had pushed for the Germen operator Phonenix to add Rosslare to its itineraries and he would conti nue to do so.
'It's just been a bad year overall and I'll be encouraging Phoenix not to forget about Rosslare.. there was a magnificent spirit among the people of Wexford to make this work and then it just falls flat.'
Madeleine Quike, the chief executive of Wexford Chamber, said that while the cancelled of the visit was very disapppinting, the ground work that had gone into the planned visit by the Albratos would not go to waste when the next cruise ship was visit was due to visit, hopefully with fairer winds behind it.