Belfast is Northern Ireland’s largest cruise port and the country's capital city. It is located on River Lagan. The port handles over 100,000 passengers per year. The port's harbor area is over 20% of the city's total area. Its deepwater quay is Ireland's longest.
The city houses the biggest Titanic museum in the world – Titanic Belfast (maritime heritage monument built at the site of the shipyard Harland & Wolff). Among the other popular tourist attractions are Game of Thrones, Crumlin Road Gaol Giant's Causeway, Walls of Derry, Ulster Museum, Exploris Aquarium.
The city of Belfast has a total area of 115 km2 (44,4 ml2) and a population of 333,870 inhabitants (2015 census). In 1888 Belfast was granted city status. The city was a centre of the Irish tobacco-processing, rope-making, linen and shipbuilding industries: during the early 20th century, Harland and Wolff, which constructed RMS Titanic, was the largest and most productive shipyard in the world. Belfast played key role in the Industrial Revolution and until the latter half of 20th century was a global industrial centre. Industrialisation and migration made Belfast Ireland's largest city at the beginning of 20th century.
Currently, Belfast remains a centre for industry, arts, higher education, law and business. It is often called "the economic engine of Northern Ireland". During the Troubles, the city suffered greatly but latterly has undergone a period of calm, free from intense political violence, and substantial economic growth. The city centre of Belfast has undergone considerable regeneration and expansion, mainly around Victoria Square.
Belfast is served by two airports: George Best Belfast City Airport (within the city) and Belfast International Airport (approx 24 km / 15 ml to the west). The city is also a major seaport, with industrial and commercial docks dominating Belfast Lough shoreline.
Port Belfast Ireland
- Port's cruising season is April through October.
- Being UK's fastest growing port, Belfast was awarded “Best UK Port of Call” for 2012 by Cruise Critic UK. Statistics show 35 ship calls and handled 54,800 passengers (in 2010), 43 ships (in 2012), up to 84 ships and 143,500 passengers in 2016 (21% over 2015).
- During season 2017, the port had scheduled a total of 93 cruise ship calls (over 156,000 passengers), marking a record year since its opening in 1996. By the end of 2017, the port celebrated over 600 cruise liner visits for the past 21 years. CMV's Marco Polo was 2017 season's first boat (arriving on April 21). Princess Cruises ship Caribbean Princess had scheduled a total of 14 stops in 2017.
- It was estimated that cruise industry's impact on Northern Ireland's economy is around GBP 15 million (EUR 16,9 million) per year, with projected growth up to GBP 22 million by the year 2020. This forecast indicated that Port Belfast could see cruise ship tourists hitting the 230,000 mark in just 2 years. For 2018 are expected over 110 cruise vessels to dock here.
- In 2018, the port had scheduled a total of 117 ship calls with over 200,000 passengers.
- In 2017, Belfast ferry port reported a record year with handled 514,000 units, or a 3% increase over 2016. Car shipping volumes were around 360,000 (2.5% increase) and the number of ferried passengers was over 1,5 million (2,5% increase). The biggest increase (10,5%) was reported for the bus traffic.
- STENA's Belfast ferry services in the period 2012-2017 grew by 15% (car volumes), 13% (passenger traffic) and 19% (freight traffic). STENA LINE operates from Belfast with 7 ferries and 22 daily crossings.
- STENA LINE is the largest ferry company on Irish Sea, with the biggest fleet and the most routes operated between Ireland and UK (a total of 228 weekly crossings). The company also serves the routes from Dublin to Holyhead (Isle of Anglesey, Wales UK) and from Rosslare-Europort to Fishguard (Wales UK). STENA also offers direct service Rosslare to Cherbourg ()France) (3 return crossings weekly).
"Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries" is a major construction company specializing in shipbuilding and shiprepairs, as well as design, structural engineering, offshore projects. The company is most famous for building the White Star Line sister-ships Titanic, Olympic and Britannic.
- In 2003, the company was nearly awarded the shipbuilding contract for the Cunard liner RMS Queen Mary 2, but was not given the required British Government guarantee. As a result, the building contract was awarded to the French shipyard Chantiers de l'Atlantique in St Nazaire.
- In 2017, Harland and Wolff was awarded the contract for the drydock refurbishment of the cruise ship Azamara Pursuit (formerly P&O Adonia).
The Northern Ireland-based company LCC Group invested in Belfast a total of GBP 30 million into facilities and equipment for processed coal. The coal (annual capacity around 0,5 million tons) is exported directly to Scandinavian and mainland European countries, as well as to North Africa, Saudi Arabia, Australia. LCC Group's investments are in increasing the harbour's draft and cranage capability. Company's facility is the world's most sophisticated coal processing plant. The purified coal is used for ferro alloy production and silica metals (used in solar panels and medical equipment). LCC imports the raw coal from Columbia.
Highlights: Museum, Queen's University, Mount Stewart House, Giants Causeway
Belfast cruise terminal
Belfast cruise port has two docks. Stormont Dock (Belfast Harbour) has wharf length 457 m (1500 ft) and is located approx 3 ml (5 km) north of city centre and used by larger ships, Pollock Dock has wharf length 177 m (580 ft) and is used for berthing smaller vessels.
Belfast cruise port terminal is located 2 ml / 3 km from dowtown, direction north-east. There is a shuttle bus service to Donegall Square North. The Visit Belfast Welcome Centre there provides all the necessary assistance for tourists, including information, advice, schedule changes, booking services, box office (special events and tours), gift shop, luggage left, internet.
The cruise port welcomes its passengers with music performances. At the terminal you can find useful brochures and maps of the city. There is nothing interesting to see close to Belfast cruise port terminal.
Good option for transport is the local metro system. If you want to rent a car from Belfast cruise port terminal, available offices are of Budget and Avis. If you prefer taxi, be aware to chose the London-style taxis (classic black car), because the non-official can overcharge you.
(new) Belfast Cruise Ship Terminal D3
In 2013, port authorities announced plans for building a new cruise ship terminal (project cost GBP 15 million).
- The new passenger terminal has capacity to handle even the largest cruise liners.
- The facility is located close to the city's Titanic attractions - Titanic Belfast, Titanic's Dock and Pump-House, SS Nomadic (White Star Line's tender ship launched in 1911 and used to transfer passengers to and from the ships RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic).
- Due to environmental issues, the project was delayed 2 years (initially scheduled for completion in 2015). Construction works were re-scheduled for completion in 2018.
- The cruise terminal was built on the port's outskirts, close to Belfast City Airport. During no-ship days and off-season, at the new dock are berthed cargo and container ships.
- Passenger terminal's parking: is at additional cost (GBP 9 per day).
Belfast tours, shore excursions, hotels
City Tours and Shore Excursions
- Belfast City Hall: you can easily reach it with the shuttle service from Belfast cruise port terminal. The amazing building is located close to Visit Belfast Welcome Centre. The building is Classical Renaissance-styled, made of Portland stone. There are free guided tours from Mon to Sat.
- Titanic Quarter: discover the Titanic story. You can visit Titanic Belfast – the largest museum of the ill fated liner.
- Waterfront Hall: one of the leading conference centers in the world.
- Ulster Museum: the museum houses interesting collections of history, art and natural science. Admission: free.
- Victoria Square Shopping centre: Victoria Square is among the most expensive development of property in Northern Ireland and the largest one. It building cost is £400 million ($641 m).
- Belfast Castle: located in the north part of the city, Cave Hill County Park’s lower slopes.
Port Belfast cruise ship schedule shows timetable calendars of all arrival and departure dates by month. The port's schedule lists all ships (in links) with cruises going to or leaving from Belfast, Northern Ireland. To see the full itineraries (ports of call dates and arrival / departure times) and their lowest rates – just follow the corresponding ship-link.
The Belfast cruise port map is interactive. It shows the port's exact location, along with the real-time cruise ship traffic (if any) in its vicinity - today, and right now. By zooming-out you can see other cruise ship ports located near Belfast, Northern Ireland.
If you lose the Belfast location on the map, simply reload the page (also with F5 button). This feature is integrated with the CruiseMapper's cruise ship tracker tracking the vessels' current positions at sea and in ports.