BY DEBRA MAHER
The island of Ireland, with shorelines on the Atlantic Ocean, the Celtic Sea and the Irish Sea, is an emerald-green land of with thousands of years of history. And, it can be explored via a cruise.
The picturesque fishing village of Dunmore East is the port for Waterford, although some ships can glide up the river right into the city center. Many visitors go directly to the House of Crystal, which offers factory tours and sparkling displays of world-famous Waterford Crystal. Waterford also has lots of historic structures; one even dates from the Viking occupation of Ireland’s coast. To feel as though you stepped back into the Middle Ages, take an excursion to Kilkenny and stately Kilkenny Castle.
The vibrant city of Dublin is a center of business, higher education and the arts, with wonderful parks, restaurants and shopping. After your ship docks at Maritime House on the North Wall Quay, it’s a 10-minute ride to the city center. One popular shore excursion is a drive through the city to see landmarks like St. Stephen’s Green, the city’s main park; Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university; the Georgian-style Custom House; and St. Patrick’s Cathedral, built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint. For a more active excursion, choose a walking tour of historic sites, including pubs where you can sample Irish beer.
The Northern Ireland city of Belfast suffered during three decades of conflict known as “The Troubles” between nationalists and unionists, but has been revitalized. The city is the historic center of Ireland’s linen industry, and you can still purchase high-end linens there or at the Irish Linen Centre in nearby Lisburn. The ill-fated Titanic was built in the old Harland & Wolff shipyard, a site now occupied by Titanic Belfast, a museum dedicated to the Titanic and its sister ships, the Olympic and the Brittanic. For some gorgeous coastal scenery, take an excursion to Giant’s Causeway, where polygonal columns of basalt might be the stepping stones of a giant (but were more likely formed by the rapid cooling of molten basalt.)
Many cruises that visit Ireland also sail to other ports in the British Isles; longer itineraries may include the Faroe Islands and Iceland. For more information on exploring the Emerald Isle by cruise, talk with your Cruise Holidays personal cruise expert.
Debra Maher is with Cruise Holidays in Sudbury.