Located in Northern Ireland, Belfast is a dynamic and sophisticated city that serves as an excellent place to visit during a cruise vacation. A short shuttle ride from the cruise port will take you to the city center, which is easily walkable and features most of the city’s main attractions. Belfast is brimming with castles and forts that are reminiscent of a storybook setting. There are also many museums, notable government buildings, churches, parks, and historic attractions. As far as restaurants go, you will discover all kinds of pubs that serve up local cuisine, as well as a few upscale restaurants that make a great setting to celebrate a special occasion. A great time to visit Belfast is between April and October.
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The following cruise destinations can be visited on a cruise that includes Belfast. Select a destination to view the upcoming cruises that are available:
The following cruise lines offer cruises sailing to Belfast. Select a cruise line to view the upcoming cruises that visit Belfast:
Becoming more and more popular, a river cruise is an immerse and destination-focused vacation experience, on a small and luxurious vessel.
River cruises sail through the inland waterways of some of the world's most interesting vacation destinations (i.e. Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and North America), and provide their guests with a greater opportunity to spend time visiting more unique ports of call than a traditional cruise typically would.
Because the destination is the star of a river cruise, (typically guided) shore excursions are included at no additional charge by many River cruise lines. There are usually many interesting lectures given during the cruise, by experts on the history and culture of the region being visited.
Among the famous rivers that one may take a river cruise on are the Rhine, Mississippi, Seine, Danube, Mekong, Nile, Yangtze, Amazon and Douro.
These cruise lines offer a truly unique vacation experience, with a wide range of possible amenities and itineraries. Some are expedition cruise lines, others have sailing yachts or are coastal ships.
On these types of cruise lines, there's usually a focus on a specific destination or theme. Itineraries are usually very destination intensive, aided by the fact that they're able to reach many ports of call that larger ships can't.
Expedition cruise lines are a great fit for adventure-seeking travelers, featuring exciting destinations like the Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, and the Norwegian coast. During the cruise, there will usually be plenty of interesting lectures given by experts on the destination being visited. Often, shore excursions are included in the cost of the cruise. In fact, some of these cruise lines have all-inclusive pricing. There's a definite focus on the ship's surrounding scenery, as well as opportunities to view wildlife in their natural habitat. Small, but comfortable, ships are commonplace here, with anywhere from basic to very luxurious public spaces, cuisine, and accommodations (depending on the cruise line and ship).
Sailing Yachts, sail-assisted motor ships, offer a really unique vacation experience. Accommodations and cuisine on these intimate vessels can be anywhere from good to fantastic, depending on the cruise line. Destinations offered by these cruise lines may include the Caribbean, Europe, Panama Canal, Tahiti, and Costa Rica.
When the finest cruise vacation is your top priority, this is the place to start.
On a luxury cruise line, guests experience highly personalized service, a more intimate (and usually formal) onboard experience, gourmet cuisine, well-appointed accommodations, and fantastic amenities. Many of these brands have smaller ships, allowing them to reach ports of call that the larger ships can't, which results in unique itineraries.
All of these brands feature a version of all-inclusive pricing, and some of them have ships with all-suite accommodations. Although these cruise lines are usually more expensive than the rest, they also provide their guests with so much more, resulting in a fantastic value when considering all that's included.
These cruise lines fit (quality and, usually, price-wise) somewhere in between Premium and Luxury cruise lines.
A country club casual atmosphere can be expected on these lines, as can be elegant accommodations and gourmet cuisine. These cruise lines are a great option for adults looking for a upscale, yet laid back, vacation.
Unique itineraries are often available on these cruise lines, as their small-to-mid-sized ships can visit ports of call that large ones can't get to.
The pricing on Azamara Club Cruises includes select beverages and pre-paid gratuities, while the pricing of Viking Ocean Cruises includes shore excursions and select beverages.
Value is a key feature of these popular cruise lines, as they offer lots of activities, entertainment and dining options, along with a variety of stateroom types. Some of the cruise lines in this category have ships with unique innovations like water slides, rock-climbing walls, ice-skating rinks, surfing simulators, bowling alleys, and boardwalks.
Their ships are usually anywhere from mid-sized to very large "mega" ships, accommodating thousands of guests. These ships give the feel of being in a large resort.
Mainstream cruise lines are a great option for just about everyone (including multi-generation families, and first-time cruisers), and typically have great youth programs.
During the cruise, entertainment may include Broadway productions, Vegas-style shows, comedians, and music. Some of these lines have select formal nights during the cruise. Specialty restaurants are becoming more and more common (some which have a cover charge for this type enhanced dining experience). Buffets are usually available throughout the day, besides room service, and the main dining room(s).
These cruise lines enhance what mainstream cruise lines typically offer, by providing their guests with higher quality service and cuisine, along with more spacious public spaces and accommodations.
Depending on the cruise line, the ships in this class range in size from small to very large.
These cruise lines appeal to a more discerning traveler, and are typically more expensive than mainstream cruise lines, but more affordable than the luxury lines.
These are just a few of the more popular tourist attractions in Belfast, along with a brief description:
There are so many fabulous museums in Belfast that you will certainly need more than a day if you plan to see them all! The most popular museum is Titanic Belfast, where you can learn all you’ve ever wanted to know about the famous ill-fated ocean liner. To learn more about Irish culture, the Ulster Museum will bring you through 9,000 years of local history and culture. Those interested in navigation are certain to find delight in the S.S. Nomadic (a maritime museum housed in a historic ship) and HMS Caroline (featuring interactive exhibits on a navy ship from the early 1900s). For an outdoor museum experience, you can’t miss the Ulster Folk Museum, which also includes the Transport Museum. Other noteworthy museums include the Irish Linen Centre, Lisburn Museum, the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum, the Irish Republican History Museum, the Sentry Hill Historic House, and the Royal Ulster Rifles Regimental Museum.
As mentioned above, Belfast is home to a number of enchanting castles and forts. The city’s most popular castle is Belfast Castle. Built in the 1800s, this castle is now famous landmarks. You can discover breathtaking views from its highest point, as well as explore its beautiful gardens. Another popular landmark is Carrickfergus Castle, which played a significant role in military history. Stormont Castle is a manor house in east Belfast and is open to the public during the weekend of European Heritage Day (it’s still a fabulous castle to view from the outside any other time of the year!).
♦ Botanic Gardens
If you’re looking for a wonderful way to spend time outdoors in Belfast, pay a visit to the city’s beautiful botanic gardens! Discover over 28 acres of flowers, tropical plants, greenhouses, and more! Music concerts and festivals are occasionally held in the botanic gardens, so it is advisable to check out what’s going on prior to your visit. The most exciting highlight of these gardens is the Palm House, which is a large, elegantly designed conservatory shaped like a dome.
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