If you've always wanted to travel to Ireland but are afraid of flying, or if it's been a lifelong dream to set sail on the seas, why not consider traveling to Ireland by boat?

Cruise lines and passenger services still operate trans-Atlantic routes from ports on the west and east coasts of the U.S. like Ft. Lauderdale, Los Angeles, and of course New York. These companies sail to one or several Irish ports like Belfast, Cork, and Dublin.

While there are several companies that make stops at Irish ports, most do tours of Ireland and the British Isles based out of London, rather than a trans-Atlantic route with a port of call in Ireland, like Silversea, Regent, and Cunard, which owns the Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2, and Queen Victoria.

A cruise ship docked in Cobh. Image: iStock

A cruise ship docked in Cobh. Image: iStock

Princess Cruises departs from Fort Lauderdale, Florida steaming to Bermuda, and then on to Glasgow Scotland, before heading to Dublin, Cork, and finally completing it’s 15-day “British Isles Passage” in London. The trip costs $1,399 for a basic interior rate or roughly the same as a business class flight.

The alternative to a pricey cruise is to travel by cargo ship. Ireland as an island nation receives plenty of freighter traffic, and it’s easier than you might think to hitch a ride on a commercial ship.

Freighter travel agencies exist, and the best are A la Carte Freighter Travel and Maris Freighter Cruises, Flightless Travel also has a list of companies. If you live close to a major port city, call any of these companies to see what they have available.

Next, call the port authority itself, to see what freighter companies operate out of your nearest seaport.

Prices vary widely based on time of year, the number of passengers, and ports of call, but the one certainty is that you’ll need traveler’s insurance. It’s a near-universal requirement of freighter companies.

Freight ship docked in Galway. Image: Public Domain

Freight ship docked in Galway. Image: Public Domain

This isn’t a cruise, though. So you’ll need to take your own entertainment. And any food you want to have with you, since you’ll be eating with the crew, and you’ll be eating whatever is prepared in the galley.

Passage usually takes about 8 days.

Whichever way you cross the seas, there are a few things to keep in mind. Naturally, you’ll need a passport – seaports have customs and immigration officers, too. Traveler’s insurance is also a necessary requirement of crossing international waters. Rates vary widely based on the ports of call visited, so it’s necessary to have a complete itinerary before getting insurance. It protects things like travel disruptions and unforeseen emergencies. It’s also a legal requirement for the unconventional cargo ship option.

Have you ever traveled to Ireland by ship? Would you want to? Share your thoughts in the comment section, below.

H/T: USA Today and Edwin Thomas Demand Media

*Originally published in October 2015. 


A ship docked in Belfast. Journey to Ireland using the same mode of transportation as your ancestors. Rossographer / Geograph.co.uk