Cruise Ship MSC Virtuosa Docks in Belfast

The first cruise ship to arrive in Belfast since the Covid pandemic docked in Belfast Harbour today, Thursday, June 17 for a one day visit.

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MSC Virtuosa. Photo credits: Leo McParland

The amazing MSC Virtuosa halted in Northern Ireland at 5am after cruising from Liverpool as part of its inaugural journey around the British Isles.

A COVID-19 Port Management Plan has been developed for Belfast in association with industry operators and the Public Health Agency. Cruise operators in the UK will work with reduced passenger capacity – up to 1,000 passengers and permit UK residents only to board.

Many Cruise Lines are intending to deal with the premise of accepting vaccinated guests only and will carry out testing at both embarkation and during the cruise.

Cruise guests can just come ashore on coordinated outings and under the current restart guidance. These excursion groups will travel in small ‘bubbles’ and visits will be arranged outside of general public opening hours.

Crew are not presently allowed ashore in ports, except if associated with operational obligations, for example, tour dispatch or check in duties.

Michael Robinson, Port Director at Belfast Harbour, said: “The cruise lines familiar to Belfast are making plans for a cruise restart in line with current government guidance and we are looking forward to receiving them.

“Cruise visitors that arrive here will receive the customary warm welcome and we are confident that robust processes are in place to ensure the safety of visitors and locals alike.”

The MSC Virtuosa has 10 onboard dining rooms and 21 bars, one of which incorporates the first of its kind humanoid robotic bartender at sea.

Visitors on board can indulge in five swimming pools, a theatre, a spa and wellbeing hub, aquapark, and a wide range of children clubs.