Cruise ships to bring thousands to Belfast this week
Thousands of visitors will be shipped into Belfast over the next week, with one of the luxury liners returning for the first time in a decade.
The busy week kicked off yesterday morning, when the Azamara Journey ferried in 694 tourists shortly after sunrise.
The R class cruise ship, which weighs just over 30,000 tonnes, hasn't graced our shores since 2008.
It departed with its crew of 390 at 10.30pm in order to make room for the Royal Princess, which can frequently be seen berthed at Belfast Harbour's Stormont Wharf.
All 3,600 passengers and 1,500 crew arrived first thing this morning on the vessel, which is more than four times heavier than the Azamara Journey.
The ship is scheduled to visit the city on 12 separate occasions this season, bringing more than 61,000 visitors in total.
Built in 2013 and christened in Southampton by the Duchess of Cambridge, the cruise liner is known for some stunning features.
They include a glass-floored seawalk, which allows guests to explore the great deep as they walk around 330m long boat. Tomorrow, the slightly more modest Variety Voyager will make a splash, as it brings in a smaller group of 72 visitors on its maiden voyage to the city.
The six-year-old state-of-the- art mega yacht guarantees to provide comfort and elegance to all 72 guests and 32 crew.
On Thursday, the Crystal Serenity - voted as one of the best cruise ships in the world by Conde Nast readers - will bring in 1,070 visitors.
They may not be in a rush to hit the high street, however, as they have access to vast array of facilities on-board the vessel, including boutique shops and even a sushi bar.
On Friday, the ice-strengthened ocean cruiser M/V Corinthian, which was built in 1990 and refurbished in 2009, will return with almost 100 passengers - it will make a total of 13 calls this year.
On Sunday, the Queen Elizabeth, renowned for her heritage and sense of occasion, will bring ship 2,068 tourists into Belfast Lough.
A total of 117 ships and 200,000 tourists will cruise into the city this summer as Belfast Harbour heralds a record breaking season, which is up 25% compared to last year.