Belfast just closed its record 2023 cruise season with the arrival of Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s Borealis on Friday, October 20.
During the 2023 cruise season, Belfast welcomed a total of 158 calls, according to Cruise Belfast. This marks an 8 percent increase compared to the pre-pandemic record set in 2019.
The cruise season saw 57 ships from 32 different cruise lines dock in the port, carrying 320,000 passengers and crew. Among them were 14 ships that made their maiden calls to Belfast.
In addition, this year also marked the arrival of the 2 millionth cruise visitor to Belfast Harbour since 1996 when the first cruise ship arrived in Belfast. The milestone passenger arrived onboard the Norwegian Dawn in May this year.
Due to increased passenger numbers, Cruise Belfast estimates that over £20m was injected into the local economy through passenger spending.
Michael Robinson, port director of Belfast Harbour said: “After a couple of disrupted years due to the pandemic it’s clear that cruise tourism in Belfast is now in very good health. We continue to receive a lot of positive feedback from passengers, crew and cruise line management on the quality of Northern Ireland’s tourism offering and the service the industry provides.
“Bookings for the 2024 cruise season are currently strong, with similar levels to this year’s record season, which is great news for the city and the industry. We look forward to another busy year welcoming visitors from around the world.”
Gerry Lennon, chief executive at Visit Belfast added: “Belfast as a gateway city to Northern Ireland, now takes its place among Europe’s most vibrant and captivating destinations, for leisure, business and cruise visitors.
“With the continued investment in the city’s infrastructure and iconic world-class attractions such as Titanic Belfast. Hillsborough Castle and Gardens, Titanic Distillery and Belfast’s cultural programming for 2024, we will ensure we have a range of new and exciting giant experiences to attract the growing cruise market. Cruise Tourism is a vital element of our tourism portfolio, and its impact is significant contributing to the visitor economy and bringing great vibrancy to the city region.”