I thought this might help anyone planning a cruise that includes Northern Ireland.
Belfast and northern Ireland will surprise you! Belfast is a Victorian city. The ill-fated Titanic was built here. The punchline to the old joke is, ďWell, she was fine when she left hereĒ. The DeLorean was built in Northern Ireland, too. The Giant's Causeway, one of the wonders of the world, is on the north coast. St. Patrick is buried nearby.
Currency Pounds Sterling, the same currency you use in London.
Food and Drink
But what will you eat?
Chances are, if youíve been on a cruise for a few days, food will not be your priority off-ship, but fortunately, the days when Irish vegetables are cooked for an entire week are long gone. Most people are very impressed at the quality of new Irish cooking. One of the greatest transformations in these countries in recent years has been in cuisine. Once known for its unappetizing meals, Belfast now boasts a Michelin-starred restaurant - Deaneís.
Weather: Cloudy with a chance of sun, usually. Wear layers, expect rain, a soft rain, and be delighted when you donít have any. Temperatures are cooler, with summertime highs in the 70'sF.
What to do
My Top Things To Do:
Free or at little cost:
1. Belfast Hop on Hop Off sightseeing tour: Duration: 100 minutes The open top bus tour now has 18 stops around the city for you to hop on and hop off and discover Belfast. The tour takes in the ever changing Titanic Quarter, birth place of Titanic and now an exciting new development for the city. The tour then continues out to visit our impressive Parliment Buildings at Stormont . We then make our way back in to the city centre to visit the political areas of the Shankill Road and Falls Road to see the Political wall murals and peace lines, the tour then makes it's way through the Queens University area back to the city centre. Daily, except holidays.
2. Visit the Crown Liquor Saloon The Crown Liquor Saloon is one of the world's most famous surviving Victorian pubs, now owned by the National Trust. Where else would you find a lovely burnished primrose yellow, red and gold ceiling, a floor laid in a myriad of mosaic tiles, brocaded walls ubiquitous highly patterned tiles, vigorous wood carvings throughout, ornate mirrors, wooden columns with Corinthian capitals and feathered motifs in gold? A highlight: Elaborately carved booths, called snugs. In the snugs you will find gun metal plates for striking matches, and an antique bell system, which alerts bar staff to your liquid needs. Drinking snugs according to old records were not originally built for comfort, but to accommodate those people who preferred to drink quietly and unseen.
3. Take a taxi to: Ulster Transport Museum, Botanic Garden, the Murals and Crown Liquor Saloon. The Transport Museum displays Ireland's largest and most comprehensive transport collection, from horse-drawn carts to Irish built motor cars, and from the mighty steam locomotives that graced our railways to the history of ship and aircraft building. Itís sort of like our Williamsburg.
4. Take a shore excursion, but one not organized by your cruise ship. Why? I donít enjoy being on a 47 person bus, traveling en masse with 3 or 4 other coaches, arriving at top sightseeing sites at the same time. Many cruise lines claim that if you do not book your shore excursions with them, they will leave without you. Every company wants to get you back to your ship. After all, what will they do with you if youíre late? Itís in their interest as well as yours to return well before the ship sails.
Private shore excursion prices are considerably lower than those offered at shipís excursion desks for smaller excursions and even competitive with those for group bus tours. They are usually smaller, conducted in English, operated by sedans and minibuses, and minicoaches, and enjoy unrestricted access to places larger groups may not access. No tiring, uncomfortable walks from and to distant parking places.
My top shore excursion picks: Most cruise lines are in Belfast a full day , so it is easy to do a 6-7 tour of the city and countryside.
5. BELFAST PANORAMIC TOUR/DUNLUCE DELIGHTS/GIANTS CAUSEWAY Drive around Belfast viewing the the Murals, City Hall , Grand Opera House, Queens University, Albert Memorial Clock, and a brief stop at the Titanic Dry Dock. Travel along part of the beautiful coastal road and take in the stunning views. . Visit DUNLUCE CASTLE on its stunning cliff top location. Finish with a visit to the world heritage site the GIANTS CAUSEWAY to view the remarkable rock formations.. The lunar landscape of the Giant's Causeway is a World Heritage Site-the basalt columns packed tightly together have made the Giant's Causeway the subject of numerous legends. Altogether there are 40,000 of these hexagonal stone columns and the tallest are about 40 feet high. Legend claims that Finn McCool-a lovelorn Irish giant-built the causeway to reach his ladylove in Scotland. Approx time 6 - 7 hours.
6. ARDS PENINSULA/ST PATRICK Did you know that St. Patrick is buried in Northern Ireland? Travel the beautiful ARDS PENINSULA on Ireland's northeast coast, along the banks of STRANGFORD LOUGH and visit SCRABO TOWER. A number of charming towns and villages are located on the peninsula. Then see the beautiful MOUNT STEWART HOUSE AND GARDENS, |former home to a fascinating array of political leaders and society figures, and known for its fountains and sunken garden parterres. Take the FERRY across STRANGFORD LOUGH and pass through DOWNPATRICK the birth place of SAINT PATRICK. Saint Patrick was reputedly buried here in 461 on Cathedral Hill, within the grounds of Down Cathedral. The Saint Patrick Visitor Centre in Downpatrick tells the story of St. Patrick. Admission charge for Mount Stewart and Ferry fare included. Approx time 6 - 7 hours.
7. For the golfers: GOLF AT ROYAL BELFAST Play 18 holes of golf.. Residing on the shores of Belfast Lough it has unrivaled views and a course to match. Among the more memorable holes on the front nine are the short Par 3 4th, which measures only 142 yards but requires a very accurate shot to a green literally surrounded by bunkers. The Par 4 8th has out of bounds all along the left hand side and the 408 yard Par 4 9th, rated the most difficult on the course, plays directly alongside the shores of Belfast Lough. The homeward journey will not disappoint either, from the beautiful short par four 10th playing alongside the water's edge, the signature par 3 11th, right through to the long Par 5 18th, each hole is a real pleasure to play.
What Not To Do:
Donít ask whether someone is Catholic or Protestant. (Hint: You can usually tell my their first name).
Donít be afraid. With peace and stability now almost normal, the you just need to practice the normal precautions you would take in any big city.
Donít try to make it to Dublin. Itís too far.
Skip the Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge. Itís usually too windy to cross, or itís inclement weather. Take a picture if need be, and move on.
I have been to Belfast more than a dozen times. If you have a question, please email me.
Lynott Tours Inc.
Lynott Tours - Ireland and Great Britain