By Clare Weir
Anne McMullan from Belfast Visitor and Convention Bureau (BVCB), with
Tony McAuley from Belfast Harbour on board the MS AMADEA, the final
cruise liner of 2012
Belfast has welcomed a record number of cruise ships this year.
A total of 44 vessels have brought almost 75,000 passengers and crew to the city and its world-famous Titanic port, with 55 more to follow in 2013.
One of the last of the giant ships to arrive in Belfast was the 290m-long 3,100-passenger Emerald Princess which berthed on Sunday.
The final cruise liner of the 2012 season is the MS AMADEA, with 900 passengers and crew, which arrived on Wednesday.
Since 1996, more than half a million passengers and crew have sailed into Belfast Harbour.
Belfast's success in attracting business from 17 cruise lines this year is down to Cruise Belfast, a marketing partnership between Belfast Visitor -amp; Convention Bureau (BVCB) and Belfast Harbour.
Tony McAuley from Belfast Harbour said that breaking the 500,000 cruise visitor barrier is a fantastic achievement.
"The opening of the £76m Titanic Belfast and the new visitors centre at Giant's Causeway earlier this year together with the associated 2012 cultural pro- gramming and events created a focus and impact for our sales and marketing activity," he said.
"Anne McMullan from BVCB added: "Cruise travel globally is one of the fastest growing and highly competitive areas of tourism and the record-breaking cruise ship numbers arriving in Belfast is testament to the city's tourism success.
"We are now competing effectively among other European destinations, demonstrating that the billion-pound investment made in the city's tourism infrastructure, improving the experience for residents and visitors alike, and attracting world class events, is now paying off. "
Source: Belfast Telegraph, Ireland.