Categories: Press Release

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 was built and delivered by Fincantieri in the Monfalcone shipyard in Italy and 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. For two people at £1,000 per night, guests can enjoy a stay in one of the 461 ocean-front suites, optional butler service, all-inclusive access to the ship’s nine restaurants, unlimited beverages, and access to the state-of-the-art spa and wellness centre.

Explora I embarked on her maiden voyage on 1st August from Copenhagen. The ship visited Lough Foyle today as part of her inaugural UK and Ireland voyage. To mark the occasion, delegates from Failte Ireland, Donegal County Council, Visit Derry, Go Visit Inishowen, Hamilton Shipping and Foyle Port exchanged plaques with the ship’s Captain Serena Melani, a long standing maritime tradition.

Cathaoirleach 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 – cruise visitors spend the day discovering the sights of Derry-Londonderry and incredible locations of natural outstanding beauty including the Inishowen Peninsula, UNESCO World Heritage site the Giant’s Causeway and Glenveagh National Park.

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.”

Visit Derry’s Chief Executive, Odhran Dunne said, “The Walled City continues to draw visitors from across the world thanks to the quality of our tourism offering, which is going from strength to strength. There is no doubt, cruise ships represent an important part of the visitor market to the city and region, bringing thousands of additional visitors to enjoy a range of bespoke tours across the North West or enjoy the city at their leisure. Visit Derry proudly works in partnership with Foyle Port to provide a warm welcome and visitor information shoreside to all arriving cruise passengers and crew.”

This week the Port will host six cruise ships, two of which will visit on Saturday. Azamara Journey and Noble Caledonia’s Island Sky and will come alongside in the commercial Port at Lisahally. Two cruise ships in one day will be anther first for the Port.

By the end of the 2023 cruise season, Foye Port will have welcomed over 14,000 passengers and crew with visitor nationalities ranging from the US, Australia, France, Brazil, Israel and Germany to name a few.