Northern Ireland

New cruise terminal opens in Belfast

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe terminal is the first of its kind in Ireland

A new cruise terminal has officially opened in Belfast.

As the first dedicated cruise terminal on the island of Ireland, it will provide facilities for coaches and a visitor information centre.

Belfast Harbour invested more than £500,000 on the upgrade.

It's CEO Joe O'Neill said that cruise calls to Belfast were up to 148 calls in 2019, an increase of 31% on last year.

He said the investment would "offer the anticipated 285,000 cruise visitors a positive welcome and first impression of the region."

Image caption Passengers from The Crown Princess, which docked in Belfast on Monday morning were the first to experience the new terminal

The terminal was officially opened on Monday morning.

Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor John Finucane, said he welcomed the investment and "looked forward to welcoming increasing numbers of cruise visitors to Belfast and beyond."

"We're renowned around the world for our warm welcome and these new facilities will enable us to make the best of first impressions," he added.

In 1996 Belfast welcomed its first two cruise ships.

Northern Ireland's cruise ship market has enjoyed growth over the last two decades and tourism officials hope it will continue to do so.

Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of Visit Belfast said that cruise tourism was "one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism".

"From a standing start of just two ships in the late 90s, we are now welcoming 285,000 cruise visitors to our shores," he added.

Image caption Joe O'Neill said new terminal would allow visitors to quickly connect to Belfast city centre and excursions in NI

Northern Ireland's cruise sector has continued to grow and this year Belfast Harbour is scheduled to welcome more than 145 visits from 35 different cruise lines.

More on this story