Belfast (Photo:Mcimage/Shutterstock)
3.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Ty Treadwell
Cruise Critic Contributor

Port of Belfast

There was a time when the name Belfast raised an immediate red flag to visitors, but these days, the town's highly publicized political unrest has greatly subsided. Curiosity-seekers can still find elaborate murals and other relics from turbulent times lingering in certain neighborhoods, but for the most part, Belfast is now safer than many other European capitals, and its new image is one of both progress and hospitality.

If you've been to Dublin, the differences between that city and Belfast may seem striking. Belfast, of course, is part of Northern Ireland, which itself is part of the United Kingdom; the Republic of Ireland is part of... just the Republic of Ireland.

So British influence seems to have coated Belfast with a more polished veneer and a Victorian elegance that's evident in the town's shops, restaurants and even its pubs. The omnipresent Irish charm still exists, but Belfast also projects a cosmopolitan flair that's rarely seen elsewhere on the Emerald Isle. The glittering row of boutiques lining the Golden Mile, Belfast's premier shopping district, is more reminiscent of Paris or Milan, while a new wave of trendy restaurants now offers visitors haute cuisine in addition to local favorites. The city has come a long way since the days of security checkpoints and armored patrols, and Belfast now appears poised to shed its unfortunate past and take its place among Europe's new hot spots.

About Belfast


Pro

Belfast has a cosmopolitan flair that most other places in Ireland lack

Con

The city's unsavory past has given it a stigma that it's still overcoming

Bottom Line

Victorian elegance mixes with Irish charm in this city


Find a Cruise to Belfast

Where You're Docked

You'll dock at the Port of Belfast, roughly two miles northeast of the city center.

Good to Know

As you would in any city, keep unnecessary valuables onboard in your cabin's safe.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

Belfast, like the rest of Northern Ireland, uses the British pound. Many large stores will accept euros as well, although a service charge may apply.

Most banks are open Monday through Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and a few are open on Saturday mornings. ATM machines are commonplace, and you'll find one on practically every corner. Currency exchange booths are plentiful, too. You'll find one located inside the Belfast Welcome Centre on Donegall Place.

For up-to-the-minute conversion rates, be sure to check www.xe.com.

Language

The language spoken is English. Unlike in the Republic of Ireland, you'll rarely find Gaelic signage in the north.

Shopping

Jameson may be the whiskey of choice down in Dublin, but once you travel north, Bushmills takes the spotlight. In addition to its other brands, Bushmills makes a special Distillery Reserve whiskey that can be found only at the distillery itself. The trip from Belfast takes about an hour by car or train, but the tour of the distillery is fascinating, and connoisseurs will love this unique 12-year-old single malt. Since it can't be purchased anywhere else in the world, a bottle of Distillery Reserve makes a perfect souvenir or a unique gift for those back home.