In 2018, Belfast will see the highest number of cruise ships dock between March and October, with 117 cruises during this period. The new season will start on 19th March with Cruise and Maritime’s Astoria, followed by a number of other big-name cruise lines such as Princess, Royal Caribbean, Carnival and Celebrity Cruises.
Belfast Harbour’s busy cruise schedule is thought to be in part due to the city being featured by Lonely Planet and National Geographic Traveller, promoting the capital as a ‘brand-new city’ that has transformed into a hip destination since the troubles in Northern Ireland ceased.
Things to do in Belfast
The good news for cruise passengers is that most ships will be ported for the majority of the day, which will offer plenty of time to explore the city. There are a variety of things to do in Belfast, here are my top four recommendations:
I’m not entirely sure whether it’s a good or bad idea to visit this Titanic museum whilst on a cruise but I did visit the Titanic Exhibition in Las Vegas on my way to board a cruise in San Franscisco and it didn’t bother me. This is the world’s largest Titanic exhibition and celebrates the iconic ship at its birth place so is a must for cruisers with an appreciation of the classic ship design. Tickets are reasonably priced with concessions for children and seniors.
The iconic Giant’s Causeway is Northern Ireland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site and is an awe-inspiring place to visit from Belfast. It’s approximately 80 minutes from the cruise port by vehicle so it’s probably worth giving yourself plenty of time to get there and back; the cruise ships are sure to have organised excursions or you can organise it independently through a tour company such as Irishtourtickets.com, which offers an 8-hour excursion to the Giant’s Causeway and Belfast city tour from just £35 from Belfast Harbour.
One of the reasons that Belfast’s popularity has grown in recent years must surely be something to do with a little television programme called Game of Thrones. Filmed in Belfast and a number of locations in surrounding areas, Game of Thrones has been a fantastic showcase for the picturesque landscape and rugged coast. As you can imagine there is now the opportunity to take Game of Thrones tours for fans eager to visit some of the filming locations. I would recommend checking out the link above to get you started.
Belfast’s revitalisation has brought with it a rise in gin bars, which have taken residence in some of the city’s empty buildings. Why not take a gin tasting tour and sample some of the popular tipple? Belfast’s own gin distillery, Jawbone Gin is fueling the gin revival. Cruise passengers who are visiting Belfast with Silversea and Variety Cruises on 8th March 2018 could also visit the Belfast Gin Festival. Cheers!