As the last cruise ship of the season arrives in Belfast today, Cruise Belfast, the partnership between Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast is celebrating the end of a strong cruise season, with a total of 141 calls made to Belfast in 2022.
This year’s successful cruise season, which ran from April to November, saw more than 50 different ships from 33 cruise lines dock in the city, carrying more than 250,000 visitors who came ashore to explore Northern Ireland’s award-winning tourist attractions.
Among the visiting vessels were 18 ships making their inaugural call to the shores of Belfast, including the ‘Enchanted Princess’ and ‘Island Princess’ from Princess Cruises and the ‘Ambassador Ambience’ from Ambassador, a new British cruise line.
Reflective of Northern Ireland’s increasing popularity as a tourist destination, and Belfast’s position as one of the UK and Ireland’s most vibrant and exciting city ports of call, many cruise liners made a return to Belfast in 2022, including the ‘Disney Magic’ which arrived with some 2,700 passengers and crew on board.
Reflecting on the success of the cruise season, Michael Robinson, Belfast Harbour’s Port Director, said:
“This year’s busy cruise schedule signals a comeback for the tourism industry following two difficult years, and we were delighted to have many prestigious cruise lines docking in Belfast. We hosted more than 50 different ships, including 18 vessels on their first call to the city, and there were days over the summer when we had three ships in the Port.
“This is a testament to the appeal of Belfast as a destination, as well as our facilities, support, service and warm welcome.
“Belfast Harbour celebrated our 175th Anniversary this year, and it has been a fantastic opportunity to reflect on the transformation of the Port as well as the wider City over the last few decades.
"The cruise industry has been key to the growth and development of our tourism industry and the future looks bright for Belfast. We are excited to be working on next year’s schedule, and we hope to welcome even more first time and returning visitors to our shores, further cementing the City’s place as a must-see cruise destination.”
Mary Jo McCanny, Director of Visitor Servicing at Visit Belfast, added:
“With our visitor numbers increasing again following the pandemic, this cruise season has been as runaway success as we welcomed both international and first-time visitors to Northern Ireland. Belfast has built a strong reputation as a welcoming and exciting cruise destination and this busy season is reflective of the strong working relationships that Cruise Belfast has with global cruise operators.
“Welcoming over 250,000 passengers to the Port, the visitor services teams worked tirelessly to provide a first-class reception for visitors from around the world and directing them to our wide range of quality tourist experiences.
“As we prepare for 2023, we will maintain our ongoing partnerships with Belfast Harbour, supported by Tourism NI, to drive the tourism market in Northern Ireland and continue to promote the award-winning tourist attractions across the region.”