Fred. Olsen Cruises is to operate two cruises from Belfast in 2013, marking the first time since 2007 that the line will have sailed from Northern Ireland's capital.
It's a small beginning, with the 28,338-ton, 856-passenger Boudicca embarking both cruises in October 2013. On offer are a two-night mini-cruise across the Irish Sea to Liverpool and a 12-night voyage to the Iberian peninsula and the Canaries. Although Belfast is a popular port of call, as the city where Titanic was built and the gateway to the Giant's Causeway, no other cruise line actually sails from the port.
With the Belfast departures and a series of sailings from Harwich also added for 2013, Fred. Olsen claims that it can now offer cruises departing from within a radius of 100 miles from 90% of the U.K.'s population. As a notable exception to these claims, Liverpool was dealt a devastating blow last year when the line dropped it as a departure port due to poor facilities and wind and tide conditions which make it difficult to bring ships into berth.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor