The first of three luxury cruise ships visiting Belfast this week was welcomed into port yesterday as part of a wave of 62,000 visitors to the city helping generating a bumper £15m in tourism.
Passengers from the Seven Seas Voyager — travelling from Fort Lauderdale in Florida to London — were welcomed by a lone piper on the quayside before being offered excursions to Belfast, the Giant’s Causeway and Ards Peninsula in the afternoon and a pub tour of Belfast in the evening. The second ship — Deutschland — is due to arrive today, and the Vistimar should be in Belfast by 11am tomorrow morning.
The travellers on yesterday’s arrival, primarily from North America, have stopped off at destinations including the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, over the past three weeks.
They will continue down the east coast of Ireland before finishing in London on June 5.
Joe O’Neill, commercial director at Belfast Harbour, said: “We are very pleased to provide a gateway to Belfast and Northern Ireland to the 62,000 tourists who will make a significant financial contribution to the local tourist economy despite the fact that they will only have a short one day stay in Belfast.”
The Seven Seas Voyager, operated by parent company Regent Seven Seas, is just one of the 37 ships carrying the visitors to Belfast this year. Two of the biggest cruise ships due in the summer each hold 4,400 passengers and crew.
The Cruise Belfast marketing initiative between Belfast Harbour and the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau has been key in attracting the ships.
Michael McCormick, director of marketing at the bureau, said: “It is estimated that this is worth £15m to the tourism economy and the continued growth of the cruise sector will be critical to achieving long term economic growth within the tourism sector.”