Ship sail

Warm welcome for the second cruise ship of the season

The Port of Warrenpoint today (Friday 5th August) welcomed the Azamara Pursuit, the second of three cruise ships to dock at the County Down port this summer. At 180m in length, the Azamara is the largest cruise ship ever to dock at Warrenpoint.

The ship has a capacity of over 700 passengers and over 400 crew; and the local community were out in force to welcome them.

The Azamara Pursuit, when first visiting Warrenpoint, has a connection to the locality. As of 2018, she was the largest such vessel for many years to be refitted in Belfast; carried out by the outfitting company MJM Marine, whose head office is in Newry.

At that time, the Azamara brand was owned by Royal Caribbean and was later acquired in 2021 by Sycamore Partners, a New York-based private equity firm.

Warrenpoint Port Chairman Dr Gerard O Hare CBE DL said: ‘We are delighted to have welcomed Captain Toledo, his crew and passengers to Warrenpoint today for the second of our three vessel visits from cruise to port this summer.

“Cruise ships are not a major part of the port’s business model, but it is important from a tourism perspective for the region that we welcome a small number of these ships to the port each year. Many passengers have chosen to explore the region and we know they will have received a warm welcome. Many locals also come to see the ships, which helps boost business in the city.

“These cruise ship calls are organized and managed by local company Armagh Logistics and facilitated by Hamilton Shipping in Belfast. Brothers John McParland of Armagh Logistics, Leo McParland of Hamilton Shipping and their father Noel have long worked with the port. They continue to work to promote Warrenpoint and the Port to their global clientele.

Councilor Micheal Savage, Chairman of Newry, Morne and Down Council, said: ‘I am delighted to welcome the Azamara Pursuit on her first visit to Warrenpoint, which is the second of three cruise ships to come to the Destination Visit Morne. After two difficult years for the tourism industry, it is great to see cruise ships returning to the destination and for guests to discover local attractions and experiences. These cruise ships are a welcome economic boost for the local tourism industry.

“As is customary for a first visit to a port, a plate handover ceremony was held at the quayside with plates handed over to the Harbor Master; Newry, Morne and Down District Council; and Hamilton Shipping. The ceremony was accompanied by dances from the Brennan Miskelly McCormick School of Irish Dance.

The ship departed at 7.30pm with people lined up on the shore on both sides of the Lough to wave. The last cruise call of the summer will take place on Thursday August 18 with the visit of the World Voyager.