Riverboat loss 'not the end' of floating hotel for Northern Ireland plans
An entrepreneur from Northern Ireland has vowed to keep alive his dream of opening a floating hotel on the River Bann - despite his riverboat sinking as it was being towed to its planned home near Coleraine.
The MV Oliver Cromwell - a Mississippi-style riverboat which had been moored on the Severn at Gloucester for the past 25 years - was being brought to its new home at Coleraine's Crannagh Marina last week when disaster struck off the north Wales coast.
The marina purchased the ship from English Holiday Cruises Ltd in January 2018 for £245,000, and had planned to rename the vessel and give it a £100,000 refit to transform it in to a unique floating restaurant and boutique hotel.
This was part of a £500,000 development project for the marina.
Holyhead Coastguard was called just before 2pm when the vessel got into difficulties off Anglesey last Friday - but could not stop the boat sinking into the Irish Sea.
No one on board was injured.
The RNLI's Holyhead coxswain Tony Price said: "It was very sad to see such a lovely vessel sink like that, but no one was endangered and the lack of fuel on board meant there were no environmental issues."
Seamus Carey, owner of the Crannagh Marina Complex, owned the boat.
"We were really looking forward to conducting a major refurbishment of the vessel and transforming it into a luxurious 15-bedroom static hotel and restaurant on the picturesque River Bann," he said last night.
"It was to be Ireland's first ever floating hotel and a great addition to the north coast's tourism offering."
"We are naturally extremely disappointed.
"The Crannagh Marina Complex has invested significant time and resources into this exciting new venture, which would have created 20 full-time and 15 part-time jobs."
But the entrepreneur said he was already exploring options for acquiring a replacement vessel.
"Despite the unfortunate setback, we are more determined than ever and are already in the process of reviewing alternative options for a replacement boat.
"We hope to have this secured by the end of the summer and in operation before 2019," Mr Carey added.