Cruise Belfast – the partnership between Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast, has opened the first dedicated cruise terminal on the island of Ireland to cater for Belfast’s growing popularity as a cruise destination.

Belfast Harbour has invested more than £500,000 on upgrading the quayside facility which now includes a Visitor Information Centre, part funded by Tourism NI and managed by Visit Belfast.  This investment represents an important step in the development of the city’s cruise tourism infrastructure. The new terminal is staffed by Visit Belfast’s travel advisors and utilises the latest digital and audio-visual technology to showcase Belfast and Northern Ireland’s visitor attractions.

The newly developed site includes the space required to service the shore side activities associated with cruise tourism for coaches, shuttle buses and taxis, and a berth which has been dredged to accommodate newer and larger cruise ships.

Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s CEO said:

“Cruise calls to Belfast are now up to 148 calls in 2019, an increase of 31% on last year and this investment in a terminal facility will enable us to offer the anticipated 285,000 cruise visitors a positive welcome and first impression of the region.  The new terminal will provide the first dedicated facilities for cruise ships on the island, allowing visitors to quickly connect to Belfast city centre or join one of the many organised excursions tours to a wide range of visitor attractions including the Giant’s Causeway, Hillsborough Castle, Mount Stewart and Titanic Belfast.

“In addition to help attract more visitors, we’ve also invested in new gangways and luggage scanners which will enable us to market Belfast as an embarkation port.  Depending on the level of demand locally, this opens up the exciting opportunity for local consumers to join cruises directly from Belfast instead of flying to Southampton or other regional ports. Cruise & Maritime has already scheduled a number of departures from Belfast for next summer including Norwegian Fjord and British Isles itineraries.   In line with our sustainability ambitions we have also installed wind powered quay lighting for the site and a ‘smart flower’ which will generate solar electricity for the terminal building”

Speaking at today’s launch event, Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor John Finucane, said:

“Cruise tourism has been one of the city’s success stories of the last decade and has become an important part of our tourism mix, contributing significantly to the local economy through attractions, transport providers and retail.  I welcome the investment made by Belfast Harbour and Tourism Northern Ireland in Belfast’s new cruise terminal and look forward to welcoming increasing numbers of cruise visitors to Belfast and beyond.


“We’re renowned around the world for our warm welcome and these new facilities will enable us to make the best of first impressions.”

The Lord Mayor joined Captain Domenico Lubrano Lavadera of the Crown Princess to officially open the cruise terminal this morning (Monday, 29th July). One of the most popular cruise brands in the world, Princess Cruises have been a long-standing and regular visitor to Belfast.

John McGrillen, CEO Tourism Northern Ireland, said:

“Cruise ship visitors contribute footfall to our visitor attractions and provide an opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland to international visitors, many of whom are here for the first time.  Allowing cruise passengers to sample Northern Ireland also provides an effective strategy to encourage and generate repeat visits.


“Our investment in this gateway information centre is part of our growth framework which will support our overall ambition to double the value of tourism to Northern Ireland by 2030.”

In the past three years alone there has been an 82% increase in the number of annual calls. Last year Cruise Critic named Belfast as one of the best cruise destinations in the British Isles and Western Europe and the Port is now the third most popular destination in the UK and Ireland for one-day cruise ship calls after Dublin and Orkney.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast added:

“Globally, cruise tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism.  From a standing start of just two ships in the late Nineties, we are now welcoming 285,000 cruise visitors to our shores.  This has been down to the sales and marketing efforts of Cruise Belfast and the significant investments in our tourism offering.

“This means that we can fully showcase the wealth of experiences on offer and enable cruise visitors to make the most of their time in Belfast and Northern Ireland.”

Northern Ireland’s cruise sector has continued to grow and this year Belfast Harbour is scheduled to welcome a record 148 calls from 35 different cruise lines.  July will be the busiest month with 32 calls including SAGA’s first ever new build vessel, the ‘Spirit of Discovery’. ‘Disney Magic’ will also visit in September, bringing the globally recognised brand to Belfast for the first time.

For more information, contact:
Symon Ross, MCE Public Relations
028 9026 7099 / 07827 524 668

Notes for Editors
Cruise Belfast is a marketing initiative formed between Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast which markets Belfast internationally as a leading destination for cruise ships visiting Northern Europe in the summer.

Belfast Harbour is a trading company created by statute. It is required to behave commercially and is 100% self-funded.  Its task is to operate, maintain and develop Belfast Harbour assets for the benefit of port customers, other stakeholders and consequently the wider economy. As a Trust Port, all profits are retained and re-invested within the business.

The Harbour’s business focus is upon delivering best-in-class infrastructure, built assets and services to support:
•    Exporters and importers as Northern Ireland’s primary gateway to the world and its primary logistics hub
•    Ferry and Cruise ship operators
•    Companies providing services to shippers and cargo owners
•    Estate tenants, both current and prospective

Visit Belfast is a public/private sector partnership funded and supported by Belfast City Council, Tourism NI, strategic partners Diageo NI, Translink, Belfast One and Value Cabs, corporate partners Hastings Hotels, Titanic Belfast and Victoria Square, as well as the private sector. It is the official destination marketing and management organisation (DMMO) 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 tourist information centres.

As part of the Cruise Belfast partnership, Visit Belfast is responsible for managing the visitor experience for arriving passengers and crew. When a ship visits the city, Visit Belfast can provide:

Shuttle bus service
From the Port to the heart of the city centre, close to the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre on Donegall Square North.

Tourist information
Tourist information desk, onboard the ship if required and within the new cruise terminal, staffed by multi-lingual travel advisors. Maps and brochures are all available as well as a daily event listing and shuttle bus timetables.

Further visitor information is available at the Visit Belfast Welcome Centre (9 Donegall Square North), just opposite Belfast City Hall. Opening hours of the centre are extended to cater for cruise ships visiting Belfast.

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