The port of Cork's busy cruise liner traffic peaked the interest of ECCG this year to the extent that we decided to make it a project to photograph each ship that called to the port during the 2015 season. With fifty-five liner visits in total scheduled, we knew this would be a daunting task but undertook to do our utmost to pull it off.
It all started on 25th April with the arrival of the Regal Princess on a beautiful sunny Saturday morning. Already, the first one was in the bag and the project was underway. May was a busy month with seventeen ships as well as the 100th anniversary of the Lusitania disaster but we managed to get them all. June saw nine ships in and there were eleven in July and we still had a full house.
After each shoot, we posted a gallery of images on our website and as the total began to soar towards 1,000 images, we realised that we had most vantage points in the harbour covered and that all our images were of the exterior of the ships taken as they arrived and departed and while berthed in the port. As the quest for fresh angles became increasingly difficult we felt that some interior shots of one of the majestic ships would be a nice departure and would compliment the shots we already had very nicely. As Princess Cruises were the most frequent line to visit the port with fourteen calls and Royal Princess was the most frequent ship to visit with ten calls, we felt that she should be the ship to photograph if at all possible. That event happened today.
As the clock ticked past 6.30am, Royal Princess, with its 3,600 passengers and 1,300 crew on board, was visible from Cobh at Roches Point. On her tenth and final visit of the season, she was the 46th liner of the year and the first of three to call on this day. As she made her way between Forts Davis and Meagher, the sun began to spread its magic over the harbour and bathed the ship in a golden glow as she did a 180 degree turn and went alongside at Cobh Cruise Terminal.
At 10am we boarded the ship and were taken directly to the bridge by our guide, Miranda, where we met the Captain, Robert Oliver and the Hotel General Manager, Michael Prasse. We made a presentation of a framed series of images of the ship on her visits to the port and were delighted to receive a ship's plaque from Captain Oliver in return. The view from the bridge was outstanding and set the tone for the day's shooting that lay ahead.
Thereafter, we toured the ship and took in her splendour. Only two years old, she was named by the Duchess of Cambridge on the 13th June 2013 and like her 'godmother', exudes elegance and style at every turn. Among her highlights, the Royal Princess offers a larger and expanded atrium with additional entertainment and casual dining options and it boasts the largest top deck pool ever with Princess Watercolor Fantasy, an enhanced Movies Under the Stars screen, and a SeaWalk with views 128 feet straight down through the glass floor!
Having worked up an appetite, we adjourned to the Horizon Court restaurant on Deck 16, for lunch, for which the choice was seemingly unending. It was really relaxed and enjoyable and afterwards we planned the afternoon's shoot which took us to the casino (which was closed unfortunately) and the atrium where an All Ireland champion uilleann piper and a local troop of Irish dancers entertained the cruisers to great applause.
Resisting the temptation to somehow stow away and depart Cork with the mighty ship, we made our way to deck four and the exit where cruisers, who had been ashore, were streaming back to the ship for the 5.30pm 'all aboard' time. With a glance back we marvelled at the feat of engineering and logistics that is the Royal Princess with a more meaningful understanding of the Princess Cruises slogan, "come back new". Our brief introduction to the world of cruise liners definitely left us with a taste for more and I even heard a suggestion that next year the club should have a foreign shoot ..... on a cruise!!
Many thanks to Princess Cruises, Captain Oliver and his crew for a great opportunity and we look forward to seeing you back in Cork again next year.