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Full steam ahead for Belfast's cruise ships: 9,500 visitors to step ashore this week

By Sue Doherty

More than 9,500 visitors will step ashore in Belfast this week as three cruise liners call to the busy port.

Approximately 900 passengers and 300 crew set out from Belfast on Tuesday, May 16, on the Fred Olsen line's Boudicca. They will enjoy a cruise around Scotland and the Scottish isles on the 28,388 tonnes, 205m ship before returning to Belfast at the end of their holiday.

Celebrity Eclipse, one of the biggest ships due this year, is due to arrive at 11.45am on Wednesday, May 17. This impressive liner is 317m long and weighs 121,878 tonnes. Its 2,850 passengers and 1,270 crew are on a cruise of Ireland, Iceland and the Channel Islands. Celebrity Eclipse will leave Belfast Harbour around 10.15pm.

Another impressively large ship, the 112,894 tonnes Caribbean Princess, will bring 3,175 passengers and 1,200 crew into Belfast at around 7.45am on Thursday, May 18. This 289.5m long cruise ship is due to visit Belfast twelve times in 2017, bringing a total of 52,500 people to the city this year alone.

Belfast’s record cruise schedule for 2017 marks an unprecedented period of growth for city tourism and investment which has underlined the city’s soaring appeal among cruise tourists from around the world but particularly the UK, Europe and North American markets.

Belfast has established itself as a destination of choice for cruise operators and visitors, becoming the second busiest port of call in Ireland and once again attracting more cruise passengers than Liverpool in 2017.

By the end of this year, almost 600 cruise ships will have visited the city since the first arrival in 1996.

Joe O’Neill, Belfast Harbour’s Commercial Director, said: “To welcome 88 ships this year is a tremendous endorsement of the great strides which Northern Ireland has made in recent years.

"When we started pitching Belfast to cruise operators in the mid-1990s there was some scepticism about what could be achieved.  This year, we’re welcoming a record number of visitors and vessels, including the 100th visit of a Princess Cruise ship, one of the best-regarded operators in the sector.”

To learn more about this year's cruise liner schedule, click here.

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