My first trip to Ireland was while cruising on the Celebrity Century in 2008. I was trying to decide whether or not to go to Ireland for 10 days or take the cruise that included stops in Ireland, Norway, and the Netherlands. Since I love cruising, I opted for the cruise and thought, this way I can see if I like Ireland and then can always come back for a longer visit.
For the Ireland part of the trip, we stopped in the ports of Cork, Dublin, and Belfast. In Cork, I enjoyed seeing the countryside and kissing the Blarney Stone. While in Dublin, I experienced the Guinness Factory and touring around the vibrant city. We were one of the first off the ship in Dublin as I was really excited to see everything and that was one of my favorite parts of the day, having the city to ourselves before anyone in the town had started their day. And finally in Belfast, I enjoyed learning about the political history of the city. Every night, I loved coming back to the ship to enjoy all the evening entertainment and dinner in the dining room. All the wonderful moments made me want to experience more of the country. My suspicions were correct, I enjoyed being a tourist in the country for only 3 days that I wanted to go back and spend more time. Today I'm leaving for my second trip to Ireland, and thanks to cruising, I found a country and culture that I fell in love with.
My travels will take me back to Dublin and then into the center to Clonmel and finally to the coast to see the Cliffs of Moher and Galway. This trip signifies one of the many reasons why I love cruising. Visiting ports you get a taste of a city or region or the opportunity to visit a place you've spent time in before. Sometimes, soaking up the tour and seeing all the major sites, I feel fulfilled and thrilled to have visited a new place. Other times, like Ireland, I was sad to see the ship leave the port of Belfast, wishing I had more time. I'm looking forward to going to some of my favorite places from the last visit while exploring and creating new memories. Yes, I love traveling by cruise ship but wish me luck as I learn to drive on the "other" side of the road for the first time and maneuver through the unnamed streets in the countryside.