Brochures for British Isles cruises often list Cork, Ireland as a port of call. This is somewhat misleading in two ways. First, the cruise ships actually dock in Cobh, which is on the body of water known as Cork Harbour but not in Cork City itself. Second, the main attractions in this part of the world are not in Cork City itself but in the surrounding countryside.
Listing the port as Cork rather than Cobh is not a quibble. Cobh is not some industrial port that is occasionally used by cruise ships. Rather, it is a place that is both scenic and historic. (See our Cobh cruise port page http://www.beyondships3.com/ireland-cobh-cruise-port.html )
The cruise ships dock near the center of Cobh. It is a pretty Irish town that seemingly has changed little since the 19th century. You can walk along the harbor and see the fishing boats, the pubs and the well-maintained Victorian/Edwardian buildings. Or you can walk up the hill and visit the town’s Gothic cathedral. There are also museums and a fortress in the harbor. But the main thing is to soak up the charming atmosphere.
Cobh is also quite historic. It was the last port of call for the Titanic. It was also the place where the survivors and victims of the Lusitania disaster were brought. (The sinking occurred not far from the harbor entrance). These two events are remembered in Cobh with memorials and museums. In addition, because the town still looks much the same, it is easy to imagine what it must have been like for those passengers who disembarked Titanic at Cobh as well as for those who embarked. (See our article on Cobh, Titanic and Lusitania http://www.beyondships3.com/ireland-cobh-titanic.html ).
In those days, Cobh was known as Queenstown and was a frequent stop for ocean liners making transatlantic crossings. The primary reason they stopped here was to pick up Irish emigrants heading to America. 2.5 million of the six million Irish who emigrated to America left via Cobh. There is a heritage center next to the cruise ship berth that tells their story.
While it is easy to spend the entire port call in Cobh itself, there are many attractions nearby. For example, everyone who has ever heard of Ireland has heard of the Blarney Stone. If you kiss, you will supposedly obtain the gift of the gab or great eloquence, as the more reserved tourist literature puts it.
The Blarney Stone is in Blarney Castle, a ruin several miles outside of Cork City. To kiss it is no easy task. First, it seems like a few hundred fellow visitors are always waiting on line to do so. Next, you have to climb up a hundred or so steps to the top of the Castle where the stone resides. Then hanging upside down you dangle over the battlements to do the actual kissing. Still, almost everyone seems to enjoy it.
The kissing ceremony is not the only reason to visit Blarney Castle. Surrounding the Castle are beautifully landscaped grounds and a variety of gardens. Sharing the grounds is Blarney House, a smaller version of Downton Abbey, which you can also tour. Our article on visiting Blarney Castle is at http://www.beyondships3.com/ireland-blarney-castle.html
Also in the area near Cobh is the Old Midleton Distillery, home to the Jameson Experience. Here, you can tour a 19th/20th century distillery and see how Irish Whiskey was made. In addition, there is a bar area where you can become a certified Irish Whiskey taster. Our article about visiting the Jameson distillery is at http://www.beyondships3.com/ireland-cobh-jameson.html
The countryside is also quite scenic. A drive down to the seaside village of Kinsale is another popular excursion.
Then there is Cork City itself. While it may not be Paris or Rome, there are things to see in Cork City. Our overview of Cork City is at http://www.beyondships3.com/ireland-cork-city.html
Changing topics, I discovered in our archives a video of Jewel of the Seas sailing from Boston, Massachusetts. It is at http://www.beyondships2.com/jewel-of-the-seas-video.html
Blarney Castle, Ireland