Foyle Port welcomed brand new cruise ship Explora I to Lough Foyle today on her first ever visit to the island of Ireland.
The luxury liner is owned by Explora Journeys, a new luxury division of MSC Cruises. The cutting-edge ship has been designed with sustainability in mind and is the pinnacle of luxury travel.
Explora I embarked on her maiden voyage on 1st August and visited Lough Foyle today as part of her inaugural UK and Ireland voyage. To mark the occasion, delegates from Fáilte Ireland, Donegal County Council, Go Visit Inishowen, Visit Derry, Hamilton Shipping and Foyle Port exchanged plaques with the ship’s Captain Serena Melani.
Mayor of Donegal County Council, Cllr. Martin Harley said, “I am delighted to welcome this luxury cruise ship Explora I to Donegal today on its inaugural visit. Donegal and the North West region provides a unique experience for the passengers and crew, many of whom are visiting Ireland for the first time. Showcasing Donegal and the North West region’s natural, unspoilt beauty will pay dividends in the future and we look forward to many of today’s visitors returning to our region in the years ahead.”
He added, ”I would like to congratulate everyone involved on making this visit of Explora I such a great success and hope it will be the first of many.”
Foyle Port’s Harbour Master, Captain Bill McCann said, “It is an absolute honour to welcome the guests and crew of this extraordinary ship on her first visit to the island. We believe the North West is a cruise destination with an unrivalled offering - guests can visit incredible locations of natural outstanding beauty including the Inishowen Peninsula, UNESCO World Heritage site the Giant’s Causeway, Glenveagh National Park and Ireland’s only intact Walled City, Derry-Londonderry."
He continued, "We are thrilled cruise visits to the region doubled in 2023; of 17 ships, seven of these have been inaugural calls, showing the growth of cruise tourism to the North West.”
Janine Moore, Commercial Development Manager for shore excursion providers Intercruises commented, “The opportunity for Intercruises to play a part in Explora Journey’s inaugural season with the beautiful Explora I has been fantastic. It’s been very exciting to work on the shoreside experiences and a pleasure to collaborate with both the Explora team and our local destination colleagues in Greencastle on realising Explora’s vision with a successful shoreside operation.”
This week, Foyle Port will host six cruise ships, two of which will visit on Saturday. Azamara Journey and Noble Caledonia’s Island Sky will come alongside in the commercial Port at Lisahally. Two cruise ships in one day will be another first for the Port.
Plaque Exchange onboard Explora I on 31st August 2023. From left to right: Lisa McLaughlin, Trade Liaison Manager, Go Visit Inishowen; Leo McParland, Managing Director, Hamilton Shipping; Matt Doherty, Business Development Officer, Visit Derry; Catherine Crawley, Visitor Services Officer, Visit Derry; Captain Serena Melani, Explora Journeys; Martin Harley, Cathaoirleach, Donegal County Council; Louise Denvir, Cruise Marketing Executive, Foyle Port; John McLaughlin, Chief Executive, Donegal County Council; David Leonard, Wild Atlantic Way Officer, Fáilte Ireland; Harbour Master Captain Bill McCann, Foyle Port