John Finucane, Lord Mayor of Belfast, and captain Domenico Lubrano Lavadera helped Cruise Belfast to open the new terminal
Belfast in Northern Ireland has officially opened its first-ever dedicated cruise terminal to enable it to cater to the growing number of cruise calls, which have increased by 82% over the past three years.
Cruise Belfast – formed of a partnership between Belfast Harbour and Visit Belfast – inaugurated the new facility on 29 July with the help of Domenico Lubrano Lavadera, captain of Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess, which was in port for the day. Princess is a regular visitor to the city.
Belfast Harbour invested more than £500,000 to upgrade the quayside facility. Work included dredging the existing cruise berth so it can accommodate newer and larger vessels, as well as creating space for the coaches, shuttle buses and taxis used during shore excursions.
“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,” said Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s CEO. “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, Cruise Belfast has invested in new gangways and luggage scanners to enable Belfast to become 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,” said O’Neill. “Cruise & Maritime has already scheduled a number of departures from Belfast for next summer including Norwegian Fjord and British Isles itineraries.”
Belfast’s cruise terminal also has a new visitor information centre, which was part funded by Tourism Northern Ireland and is managed by Visit Belfast’s travel advisors. It uses digital and audio-visual technology to showcase Belfast and Northern Ireland’s visitor attractions.
“From a standing start of just two ships in the late 1990s, we are now welcoming 285,000 cruise visitors to our shores,” said Gerry Lennon, chief executive of Visit Belfast. “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.”
This year, Belfast Harbour is scheduled to handle a record 148 calls from 35 cruise lines.
“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,” said John Finucane, Lord Mayor of Belfast. “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.”
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