Ireland's cultural ambassadors have long spread the word of their country's legendary hospitality, idyllic countryside and fascinating history. Explore the charms of the region for yourself on a cruise holiday of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Cities like Dublin and Galway are steeped in history, with medieval streets and old world architecture. Belfast in Northern Ireland is remarkable for different reasons, having shaken off its violent past and built a strong reputation as one of Europe's cultural capitals.
Head out of the cities to explore the beauty of Ireland's countryside that inspired generations of writers, and discover why it’s dubbed the Emerald Isle.
- Currency - the Republic of Ireland is part of the Eurozone and uses the Euro (EUR), whereas Northern Ireland uses the British Pound Sterling (GBP), so you will need to change money when crossing the border. A more convenient alternative, international credit cards (particularly Visa and MasterCard), are widely accepted by retailers, hotels and ATMs.
- Population - Ireland has a population of 4.6 million, with an additional 1.8 million people in Northern Ireland. The most populous city is Dublin with 1.1 million inhabitants, accounting for nearly a quarter of the total population of the Republic.
- Language - English is the most widely spoken language throughout Ireland. Despite Irish being the official language of the Republic, it’s only spoken by a comparative minority.
- Time Zone - Ireland occupies the same time zone as the rest of the British Isles, observing UTC±0 (or Greenwich Mean Time) during the winter months and UTC+1 (or British Summer Time) in the summer.
- Weather - temperatures in Ireland are generally milder throughout the year compared to other countries at the same latitude, owing to the island's mountainous terrain sheltering most areas from strong sea breezes. Summer temperatures occasionally reach 30 degrees Celsius and winter temperatures stay above freezing in some coastal regions.
Did you know..?
As a result of mass emigration during difficult periods in the country's history, the Irish diaspora is 15 times larger than the current population of Ireland. Approximately 80 million people living in other parts of the world are descended from Irish emigrants.
Who goes there?
Ireland is included in many cruise itineraries of the British Isles and routes through Europe. Cruise lines stopping at Belfast, Cobh, Dublin and other major ports include Azamara, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Seabourn.
Best time to go?
Most cruises visit Ireland and Northern Ireland in the summer months between May and September, but spring and autumn cruises are also popular for avoiding the crowds and seeing the changing of the seasons.
- Dublin - Ireland's capital is renowned for its traditional pubs, and a tour of the Guinness Storehouse is a pilgrimage for many fans of the world-famous stout. The city has plenty to occupy families too, including Dublin Zoo and sprawling outdoor parks, while history lovers can admire the architecture of historic Dublin Castle and Malahide Castle.
- Galway - another essential stop for exploring Ireland's heritage, orient yourself at Galway City Museum before taking a cruise on the River Corrib to see the original fishing village that occupied the site before the medieval city was founded.
- Aran Islands - depart Galway for the nearby Aran Islands to step back in time to rural Ireland, where English gives way to the national tongue and the simple life prevails. The 3 islands are abundant in natural beauty, particularly the largest, Inishmór, which is watched over by the historic cliff top fort Dún Aengus.
- Belfast - crossing the border to the UK, Northern Ireland's capital is a favourite of shoppers and foodies. It’s becoming increasingly recognised for its cultural attractions, particularly following the opening of the Titanic Quarter on the site where the ill-fated ocean liner was constructed. Don’t miss the Giant's Causeway, a spectacular landscape of rock columns that legends attribute to the work of giants.