Why go to Dublin?
Dublin is packed with cultural and historic sites, restaurants, pubs, lively public spaces and friendly faces
Depending on where your ship docks, reaching the city center could be a trek
Dublin is one of Europe's most lauded cities, and with diversions for every taste, it lives up to its reputation
Dublin Cruise Port Facilities?
Services are lacking at both Alexandra Quay and North Wall Quay Extension, which are both are essentially industrial ports.
North Wall: At North Wall, you're docked near the architecturally interesting Convention Center Dublin (CCD), which offers free Wi-Fi. You're within walking distance of the lovely Georgian-style 1791 Customs House (Custom House Quay), which is illuminated at night. (Be warned, though, that the area is a hangout for homeless people.) The Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship and Famine Museum (353 01 473 0111) is also nearby. Tours last approximately 50 minutes (times vary by season), taking you aboard the ship, an authentic replica of a vessel that made 16 trips to the U.S. transporting emmigrants during the potato famine. Mannequins and personal belongings of travelers give visitors a real sense of life aboard the ship.
Alexandra Quay: Near Alexandra Quay, you'll find the ferry terminal (Terminal 2), which has toilets and pay phones, but little else.
Dun Laoghaire: This terminal has the most services. At the port, there's a ferry terminal with drinks, snacks, free Wi-Fi and pay phones. But it's just a short walk to the center of this affluent suburb, where you'll find restaurants, shops and banks with ATMs. The nearest banks are Ulster Bank (Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre, George's Street Upper), AIB Bank (George's Street Upper) and Bank of Ireland (George's Street Upper).
Good to Know?
When you pay with a credit card, you may be asked if you want to pay in euros or dollars. Always opt for euros. Otherwise, you'll be socked with a "convenience fee" for converting your payment to dollars, and the exchange rate won't be favorable either. Known as Direct Currency Conversion (DCC), this practice is prevalent in Ireland, and will usually cost you at least 3% more that if you pay in euros. Check the receipt every time you pay with a credit card, and demand that the charge be cancelled and re-run in euros if it appears in dollars. We also recommend getting a credit card that doesn't add a charge to foreign transactions.
By Taxi: Taxis are usually plentiful. Some Dublin taxi companies operate a 24-hour radio-call service, among them Co-Op (353 01 677 7777) and VIP Taxis (353 01 478 3333). Calling for a cab will add an extra fee.
By Bus: Dublin has a large bus network, and you can purchase short-distance fares or Rambler day passes. Fares depend on the number of stages you travel; most trips within the City Centre are between one and three stages. You can't buy tickets from the driver; they must be purchased at outlets displaying the black-and-yellow Dublin Transit sign. You can also save by purchasing a Leap Card, which requires a refundable deposit with a minimum balance (usually 5 euros for each).
By Tram: The tram network, called Luas, has two stops that are convenient if you're docked at North Wall. The Mayor Square and Spencer Dock stops are located at the rear of the CCD building.
By Rapid Transit System: From Dun Laoghaire, the DART system gets you into central Dublin in approximately 20 minutes. The line runs primarily along the coast, and you can also use the Leap Card to pay your fare.
By Air: Dublin Airport is a 25-minute drive from Alexandra Quay and North Wall Quay. Most cruise lines offer airport transfers, or shore excursions combined with transfers. There's also an Airlink bus that stops outside the CCD (usually best for ships docked at North Wall) and 3Arena (best for ships at Alexandra Quay).
On Foot: Once you get to the city center, most attractions are within walking distance. There are also plenty of walking tours that cover literary sights, pubs, food and history, and more.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
The national currency in the Republic of Ireland is the euro. Currency exchange can be made in most banks and post offices, as well as some hotels and travel agencies. Traveler's checks should be exchanged at banks or exchange offices, as very few businesses will accept them; ATMs and credit cards have made them nearly obsolete. For the best exchange rate, use ATMs, which are found almost everywhere. Check www.xe.com for the latest currency exchange information.
Note: Many European ATMs display only numerals on the keypad. For pin codes that include letters, commit to memory or jot down the translation to numbers.
If you're visiting from outside the European Union, you can get back the Value Added Tax (VAT) you paid on certain items, which can be as much as 17.36%. You will need to carry your passport with you and fill out a form at the time of purchase. Present the forms to Customs at your final departure from the European Union, but keep in mind the agents will most likely ask to see the purchased goods as well. Mail the forms, and once it all works through the system, you'll get your refund. There's also a program operated by Global Blue, which gives you a refund on the spot when you leave the EU, but they take a cut for the convenience and you have to shop at a store displaying the Global Blue Tax-Free Shopping logo.
English is the primary language in Ireland. Irish, also referred to as Gaelic or Gaelic Irish, is the ancient Celtic language of the country, spoken by about five percent of the population, particularly in the western counties.
Where You're Docked?
North Wall Quay Extension: Smaller ships can dock on the River Liffey at North Wall Quay Extension, near the East Link Bridge; it's less than a 10-minute taxi ride into Dublin's center. There's not much when you disembark, as the area is mostly industrial, so your best bet is to board one of the shuttle buses most cruise lines arrange for a trip into town or, alternatively, take a cab into town. If you want to walk to the city center, it's about a two-mile walk along the river.
Alexandra Quay: Larger ships can dock at Alexandra Quay, near the mouth of the River Liffey. There is city bus service near the terminal, as well as taxis, and the nearest tram stop is about a mile away. Some cruise lines provide a shuttle service, but double-check to make sure a taxi isn't cheaper. Walking isn't advised due to heavy traffic in the area. Dublin Port Company has plans to redevelop the Alexandra Basin to include two cruise ship berths and to accommodate larger ships than can currently be served.
Dun Laoghaire: Some lines choose to dock in a completely different area. Dun Laoghaire, a suburb about seven miles south of the city center. This historic port is just over 200 yards from shops and other services. There's also a Dublin rapid transit system (DART) station located near the pier; from there, it's about 20 minutes to the city center. Taxis are available, too; the drive is also about 20 minutes. This port is closer to attractions like County Wicklow and the mountains, which is ideal if you enjoy the countryside.