Belfast is expecting to welcome 130 cruise ships during the 2022 season, including 18 first time visitors.
Cruise Belfast, the partnership between Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast which markets Belfast as a leading cruise ship destination, has announced that more than 50 different vessels from 33 cruise lines are booked to dock in the city throughout 2022, with up to 340,000 visitors expected to come ashore to experience Northern Ireland’s award-winning tourist attractions.
The cruise season, which will run from April to November this year, will see 18 new ships calling to the shores of Belfast for the first time, including ‘Ambassador Ambience,’ from new British cruise line, Ambassador, and Princess Cruises calling with its ships Enchanted Princess & Island Princess.
Michael Robinson, Belfast Harbour’s Port Director, said:
“Following two challenging years for tourism, the team at Belfast Harbour is thrilled to have 130 cruise vessels booked for arrival at our Port in 2022. This busy cruise schedule signals an increase in customer confidence in travel and will be a welcome economic boost to the local tourism industry.
“The team is also looking forward to welcoming 18 ships for their inaugural call to these shores, which will further enhance Belfast’s and the wider region’s reputation as a must-visit cruise destination.
“Following the safe and successful resumption of cruise tourism last year, we continue to work with public health agencies and the cruise lines to implement safety protocols to ensure the wellbeing of all visitors and staff. As restrictions are eased, the team will review our procedures in line with government guidelines, with safety remaining our highest priority.”
Mary Jo McCanny, Director of Visitor Servicing at Visit Belfast, added:
“The tourism investment that brought an increasing number of international and first-time visitors here before Covid, placed Belfast in a really good position to safely welcome cruise visitors back to Northern Ireland last summer. We expect to exceed our 2019 cruise passenger numbers this season, which is a testament to the quality of our visitor experiences, the strong working relationships Cruise Belfast has with global cruise operators and the warmth of the visitor services teams.
“The partnership between Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast and on-going support from Tourism NI enables us to provide both shore-side and on-board visitor information services, ensuring a first-class welcome is available to passengers as soon as they arrive in Belfast. The Visitor Services team is looking forward to a busy cruise season welcoming visitors from around the world and we will continue to work with our tourism partners and cruise ground handlers in driving much needed business to visitor attractions and experience providers right across Northern Ireland and support the rebuilding of our tourism economy.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
Set up in 1999, Cruise Belfast is a marketing and visitor servicing partnership between Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast to attract cruise visitors to Belfast and Northern Ireland.
Visit Belfast is a public/private sector partnership funded and supported by Belfast City Council, Tourism Northern Ireland and the private sector. It is the official tourism marketing agency for the Belfast City Region, dedicated to promoting Belfast as a city break, conference and cruise ship destination. It is also responsible for the operation of three gateway visitor information centres.
Visit Belfast represents more than 500 tourism businesses and services across the industry including accommodation providers, attractions, conference venues and services, tour operators, transport providers, entertainment venues, restaurants and cafes, pubs and clubs and event organisers.
Belfast Harbour is Northern Ireland’s leading gateway for trade, services and tourism, handling more than two thirds of the imports and exports that come into and out of the region by sea. The Port is essential to the smooth running of day-to-day life in the region and a major contributor to Northern Ireland’s economy. The Harbour estate is also home to a vibrant community of people and businesses, including commercial and residential real estate, film studios and leading companies in sectors such as IT, R&D, engineering and aerospace who employ over 27,000 people.
Working in partnership with stakeholders, Belfast Harbour’s vision is to become the world’s best regional port by growing economic activity, adopting new technology and upholding the highest environmental standards. Belfast Harbour is also committed to developing an iconic waterfront that is a standout destination for the city’s residents and visitors.
As a Trust Port, all profits from Belfast Harbour are re-invested for the long-term benefit of our customers and wider society.
Significant investment by Belfast Harbour has been made to port-side facilities in recent years, including a new dedicated cruise visitor information and welcome facility, part-funded by Tourism NI and managed by Visit Belfast, that opened in 2019.
To facilitate new Covid health protocols, funding was also secured from the DfE Tourism Recovery Programme in March 2021 (administered through Tourism Northern Ireland) to ensure that full safe-guarding measures are in place ready for the first cruise arrivals, providing as safe an environment as possible for cruise guests, crew, local staff and the wider local population whilst delivering a warm and informative welcome. Further funding was awarded to support cruise marketing and sales activity and develop an industry facing cruise welcome programme.