Cruise Belfast, the partnership between Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast, has announced that 285,000 visitors aboard 151 cruise ships are due to call at Belfast Harbour this year, an increase of 31% on the 115 visits during the 2018 cruise season.
July will be the busiest month with 32 ships calling, including SAGA’s first ever new build vessel, the ‘Spirit of Discovery’. Other first time callers to Belfast this year include ‘Disney Magic’ and Cruise & Maritime Voyage’s new ship ‘Vasco da Gama’.
In total 35 separate cruise lines will call at Belfast, the most frequent being Cruise & Maritime Voyages (15) and Princess Cruises (13).
The Italian-based Costa line will also call at Belfast for the first time while the number of calls from Celebrity will double to eight. Norwegian Cruise Line is expanding its visits from one in 2018 to eleven calls as part of its strategic growth plans for the Northern European market.
Michael Robinson, Belfast Harbour’s Commercial Director, said:
“Every year Northern Ireland’s tourism offer continues to grow, attracting new cruise lines and ensuring that long-established port customers continue to develop their presence in this market. The arrival of almost 300,000 visitors during this cruise season is a significant economic boost for the tourism sector, helping sustain and support further growth.
“Belfast is now the third most popular destination in the UK and Ireland for one-day cruise ship calls after Dublin and Orkney. This is a remarkable achievement that reflects the ongoing marketing activities of our partnership with Visit Belfast under the Cruise Belfast brand.
“This year we’re particularly pleased to welcome a number of standout new calls including Disney and the first visit to any Irish port by SAGA’s newest vessel. Belfast City Centre and day trip destinations such as the Giant’s Causeway, the Glens of Antrim and Ards Peninsula continue to be a big draw for visiting passengers.”
The first vessel is due on 12th March while the final visit of the season is scheduled for the end of October. The largest ship to berth will be the 319m long, 125,000 tonne Celebrity ‘Reflection’ which carries 4,300 passengers and crew.
“Cruise tourism continues to be one of the strongest growth sectors of tourism worldwide, and Belfast is asserting itself as a destination of choice in the eyes of cruise lines and their passengers. In the last five years alone, cruise visitor numbers to Belfast have more than doubled to the 285,000 that we expect to welcome this year.
Details of the cruise schedule can be found here.