Cobh – a star port of Around the British Isles Cruises

Image courtesy P&O Cruises

Cruising the British Isles packs in the experiences of visiting really interesting and diverse ports.

With more than 21 years’ experience arranging cruise holidays all over the world, ROL Cruise offers bespoke itineraries to help passengers truly experience their destination. Although the sunnier climes of the Caribbean and Mediterranean make these popular holiday choices, there are so many hidden gems to discover on a cruise to the British Isles. Reaching the remote Hebrides of Scotland and stepping back in time in Ireland’s towns and cities, including Cobh, makes for a truly enriching experience, and one that just doesn’t compare to anywhere else in the world. This is what they had to say about Cobh, Ireland’s only dedicated Cruise Port situated in Cork Harbour in the Port of Cork.

Situated just across the water from Cork city, the picturesque town of Cobh can be easily identified by its spectacular cathedral. Rising high over the seaport town, St. Colman’s Cathedral is not the only example of beautiful architecture in this island community. Rows of pretty painted houses also line the streets down to the water’s edge.

Hendrick Verwey of Visit Cobh kindly told us about the history of this unique town: “Sailing into Cobh (pronounced Cove, not Cobe, or even Cob H) is definitely worth getting out of bed early for. Set on Great Island in the centre of Cork Harbour, gaily painted houses appear to be stacked up along the hillside from the shores of the bay. Elsewhere neat terraces run from east to west. Stately Victorian houses are perched on the hillsides while the majestic St. Colman’s Cathedral stands dramatically above the town allowing for spectacular photo opportunities.

“Cobh (formerly Queenstown) is a compact town that is packed with things to see and do. Cruise ships berth right in the town centre and next to the railway station. It was the coming of the railway over 150 years ago that allowed millions of people from Ireland to join the transatlantic liners that carried them to new lives in North America. Emigration helped to make Cobh prosperous and famous in equal measure.

“The visit of the Titanic, the emigration of so many, the harbour, its military history and its own ‘Alcatraz Island’ ensure that Cobh is well-known around the world. The streetscape has changed little in over 100 years and seeing the crumbling pier from where the Titanic’s last passengers boarded tenders still elicits the sense of excitement yet palpable sadness of those about to sail to a new life on the largest, most beautiful ship in the world.”

The tragedy of the Titanic is well-remembered in Cobh through its many historic attractions, including theTitanic Experience, Cobh Heritage Centre, the Titanic Trail Walking Tour and the new Cobh Rebel Walking Tour. Visitors to the town can read the names of the passengers who boarded the Titanic in Cobh etched on the Glass Memorial Wall, as 79 of the 123 passengers perished.

Spike Island, which Hendrick tells us can be reached by boat from Cobh, was voted Europe’s top tourist attraction in 2017. “This military and prison island with centuries of history has so many stories to tell that the three and a half hour visit is considered too short by most visitors. Book in advance as sailings regularly sell out.”

St Colman’s Cathedral remains Cobh’s most visited attraction, along with the picturesque ‘Deck of Cards’ houses. But with so many fascinating sights in Cobh, we asked Hendrick to name some of the best activities:

“Experiences make a holiday special and people make experiences special,” said Hendrick. “In Cobh, it seems that everyone wants to welcome the visitor and find out a little about them, not in a nosey way, but in a curious, good-natured and natural way.

“Expect great sessions in the pubs when a ship is in port and enjoy the company of locals who have a sense of fun. Here the Cork-brewed stout, Murphy’s, battles for popularity with Guinness and Irish coffee is made how Irish coffee should be made!

“Large cruise ships now bring passengers into Cobh as the great ocean liners once brought them away. This pretty, colourful and friendly seaport on the south coast of Ireland will not disappoint and definitely surprise with so much to experience. As your ship slips away from the quayside, expect a brass band playing on the quay, ladies in period costumes gathered to wave goodbye and some locals on the hillsides waving white handkerchiefs as a fond farewell.”

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