09/07/2003

Belfast harbour welcomes 'royal' visitor

The Port of Belfast has welcomed a 'royal' visitor in the shape of the Royal Princess cruise liner, making its first ever visit to the province.

The liner is owned by the American company Princess Cruises, part of the world’s largest cruise company, Carnival Corporation, and with more than 1,700 passengers and crew on board, she is one of the biggest cruise ships due to visit Belfast this summer.

At a quayside reception, Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Martin Morgan and representatives from Port of Belfast and the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau (BVCB) welcomed passengers as they disembarked to head off on a variety of excursions.

These included Belfast City Centre, the Belfast Past and Present tour, the Irish Linen Tour to Lisburn, an Ards Peninsula Tour and a trip to the Giant’s Causeway.

Overall, summer 2003 marks another successful season for the Cruise Belfast Initiative, a partnership between the Port of Belfast and the BVCB, which was set up to promote Belfast to the world’s cruise industry.
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Gerry Lennon, Chief Executive of the Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau, believes that the partnership approach is definitely paying dividends.

“Not that long ago, Belfast wasn’t even on the world map as far as cruise companies were concerned but this year we are delighted to be welcoming our 50th cruise ship to Belfast this summer,” said Gerry.

Congratulating everyone involved in the Cruise Belfast Initiative on their achievements, the Lord Mayor said that attracting the ships is only the first part of a structured tourist process.

"It’s one thing getting the ships here in the first place, but then it’s another to make sure that we deliver on a product basis,” he said.

“As recent figures have shown, Belfast is enjoying great tourism growth and this summer we are expecting some 10,000 cruise visitors with lots of spin-offs for the local economy.

“It is very encouraging to see that many of the big cruise ship companies are making return visits as well as further commitments to come back again next year.”

Another Princess Cruises liner, Grand Princess, is expected to sailing into Belfast harbour in September 2004.

Taller than the Statue of Liberty and longer than three football fields, the 2,600-passenger vessel will be the biggest cruise ship ever to visit Belfast.

(SP)

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