The shuddering halt of the cruise sector due to Covid-19 is expected to cost Belfast's economy £14m by the end of the season.
Prior to the pandemic, Belfast was set to receive 129 cruise calls between March and October, bringing an estimated 310,000 cruise visitors and generating around £108,000 per cruise.
The growth in visits has been one of the biggest success stories of Belfast's modern economy and arrivals have sky-rocketed from two liners in 1999 to 117 in 2018.
Last December, Belfast was named the best port of call in the UK and Ireland for cruise ships by a global panel of experts.
It followed a record-breaking cruise season for the city, with 149 cruise calls and 280,000 visitors to Northern Irish shores.
Between 2015-19 alone, the city's cruise market grew by a remarkable 136%, bringing a significant number of international and first time visitors.
However, these figures do not include the regional supply chains that benefit from maritime activity, such as manufacturing, hotels, laundry, taxi drivers and other suppliers.
Cruise tourism is also highly effective at generating repeat visits and according to Cruise Ireland, 76% of cruise travellers said they would be "very" or "quite" likely to return for a non-cruise holiday.
Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said a loss of £14m is a huge blow to Belfast's economy.
"This will be directly felt by the city's retail and hospitality sectors who are already reeling from the loss of trade from Covid-19," he said.
"We have a long road ahead toward economic recovery and government must do more to support the cruise and tourism sector as a whole in these challenging times.
"Belfast has done well in attracting so many cruise ships over the past few years and we must do every we can to get them back."
A spokesperson for Visit Belfast added: "Driving footfall and spend, cruise tourism has become increasingly vital in supporting the 65,000 people employed within the Northern Ireland tourism sector - every effort is being made to see a safe return of cruise tourism.
"Visit Belfast with Belfast Harbour are working closely with cruise operators, shipping agents, excursion companies and visitor attractions on recovery plans - this multi-agency and destination wide approach will be informed by CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) safeguarding regulations, ongoing liaison with public health agencies and port authorities in line with government guidance to ensure the safety of the local community and cruise visitors."
Maritime UK chairman Harry Theochari said: "Belfast and the UK has become a global centre for cruise, providing great commercial opportunities for British companies and opportunities for our young people to see the world with a career at sea.
"Globally, the cruise industry is in suspension.
"There is no 'quick fix' and the situation is causing a domino effect on communities that are reliant on cruise tourism.
"For the millions who rely on the cruise industry, we're calling on government to support cruise when the time is right as a critical part of the recovery process, not least to help in supporting growth in our coastal communities."