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    RCCL Cruises Visit Belfast

    Specialized Travel Services are delighted to see the return of cruise ship passengers to Belfast and to be able to look after their shore excursions once again.

    MV Anthem of the Seas at Belfast Port © Leo McParland and Hamilton Shipping

    Specialized Travel Services and Intercruises Shoreside and Port services recently had the pleasure of organizing and coordinating shore excursions for the cruise passengers on board the MV Anthem of the Seas during her maiden call to Belfast Harbour on Saturday July 17th 2021. The Anthem of the Seas, a Royal Caribbean cruise liner, is the biggest cruise ship to arrive into Belfast port in 35 years. The 169,000 ton Anthem of the Seas, is among the largest cruise ships in the world. At 1,139 ft long, the German-built vessel is 30 per cent longer than the Titanic.

    The MV Anthem of the Seas, which cost $940 million to build in 2015, arrived in to Belfast Harbour after sailing from Southampton. The traditional plaque exchange took place on the pier with Hamilton Shipping, Belfast Harbour and Captain Vidos on behalf of RCCL. 

    MV Anthem of the Seas exchange plaques at Belfast Harbour © Leo McParland and Hamilton Shipping

    The advance preparation for a safe return to cruising by the various agencies including Belfast Port, the tourism team at Visit Belfast ,as well as local shipping agencies such as Hamilton Shipping, and the Belfast Harbour police, have made it possible for UK Visitors to visit Belfast on cruise ships.

    Specialized Travel Services & Intercruises Shoreside and Port Services are most grateful for all the effort and involvement of the various agencies, and to the local tour guides and professional coach drivers who complied with all the protocols and safety measures to ensure guests received a warm welcome as the explored Belfast and surrounding areas.

    Capable of carrying 4,905 passengers and a crew of 1,500, the passenger numbers travelling on board the Anthem of the Seas cruise ship have been significantly reduced to keep within Covid health and safety restrictions and the requirements in place for social distancing.

    All crew members onboard are fully vaccinated, and at this time, the cruises are only available to be booked by UK residents above the age of 18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results.

    Anthem of the Seas, Belfast Harbour © Leo McParland and Hamilton Shipping

    Belfast Harbour

    In 2019, Belfast Harbour invested hugely in upgrading the quayside facility, which now includes a Visitor Information Centre, part funded by Tourism Northern Ireland and managed by Visit Belfast. This investment represents an important step in the development of the city’s cruise tourism infrastructure. The new terminal is staffed by Visit Belfast’s travel advisors and utilizes the latest digital and audio-visual technology to showcase Belfast and Northern Ireland’s visitor attractions. The newly developed site includes the space required to service the shore side activities associated with cruise tourism for coaches, shuttle buses and taxis, and a berth which has been dredged to accommodate newer and larger cruise ships.

    The cruise ship industry at Belfast Harbour had steadily been growing in the lead up to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. Belfast Port lost out on some 128 cruise ships during 2020, which was expected to bring in around 230,000 passengers and millions in tourist spending to the city.

    But the easing of restrictions has resulted in the cruise industry taking off again at Belfast Harbour and the Anthem of the Seas was the tenth touring cruise liner to dock at Belfast Port since June 23rd 2021. It also marked the first Royal Caribbean cruiser to arrive in Belfast since the first lockdown.

    MV Anthem of the Seas Belfast Port and Quinns Coaches © M.Cronin

    Visit Belfast 

    Belfast City is a leading cruise ship destination, with a unique character and history that sets it apart from other cruise destinations. Set on the shores of Belfast Lough and framed by towering Cave Hill, Belfast is home of the Titanic and the gateway to the exceptional Causeway Coastal Route. Uncover the layers of history that make Belfast such a compelling place, from its Bronze Age origins to its prosperous shipbuilding past. Discover the art galleries of the Cathedral Quarter, or the bustle of St George’s Market with it’s local artisan food producers and crafts people. Have a walk around the real-life locations from HBO’s Game of Thrones® or stroll among the blossoms at the Botanic Gardens before exploring the magnificent buildings rich with historic architecture. Closed since 1996 for prisoners, the haunted Crumlin Road Gaol now hosts visitors seeking a paranormal journey through 150 years of history, with underground tunnels, execution chambers, and rooms dedicated to flogging.

    Titanic Belfast with it’s shimmering exterior, was built on the slipways, where the ship itself was constructed over 100 years ago. Titanic Belfast tells the whole story, from dream to tragedy across its six floors mirroring the height of Titanic. Allow at least three hours to take in a mix of moving images, special effects and reconstructions and ensure to pre book your tickets in advance.

    Visit Belfast is the official destination marketing organization for the Belfast City. They represent over 500 tourism businesses, operators and services, dedicated to promoting Belfast as a tourist destination and have lots of great tourist information about Belfast city and region on their website.

    MV Anthem of the Seas at Belfast Port July 17th 2021 © Leo McParland and Hamilton Shipping

    Northern Ireland – Your next port of call. 

    Specialized Travel Services look forward to showcasing the wealth of experiences on offer in Belfast City and beyond to our special cruise ship visitors and to enable all visitors to make the most of their valuable vacation time in Belfast and Northern Ireland.

    Make a reconnection with Ireland and plan a vacation of a lifetime with us for 2022. Discover the Irish spirit, the beautiful landscapes, buzzing cities, unique storytelling, and a warm Irish welcome. There is a magical treasure trove in Northern Ireland that is waiting to be explored.

    Take a small step for a giant adventure and get in touch with us.

    Our “Gift of Ireland” gift certificates allow you to choose a customized vacation that is both personal and wonderful. There is flexibility to use our gift certificates for any of our travel services, including self-drive tours, private shore excursions, escorted tours, group tours and tailor made vacations.  Plus they are valid for 5 years from date of purchase. The “Gift of Ireland” really is the special gift that keeps on giving!

    Have a look at our private chauffeur vacations for even more ideas on what to visit in the Emerald Isle. We love hearing from our friends around the world so drop us a line at



    NOTE: Featured image at the top of the blog is of the MV Anthem of the Seas arriving into Belfast Port © Leo McParland and Hamilton Shipping.

    A very special thank you to Leo McParland for the use of his wonderful images of the MV Anthem of the Seas that we have included in this blog.

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      Titanic Centre, Belfast © Chris Hill Photographic
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      Belfast City Hall, Belfast City. Photographer: Brian Morrison © Tourism Northern Ireland
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      Titanic Quarter Belfast City. Courtesy of Visit Belfast © Photographer Christopher Heaney


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