Taking The Ferry From Cairnryan To Belfast

My first solo international trip was one for the books. I had booked an open jaw flight, meaning I would land in one place, London, and take off from another, Dublin. What to do in between those 10 days and those two countries was a blank-paged book I needed to start writing. As the story started to take form, I would go from England, up to Scotland, over to Northern Ireland, and down to Ireland. I was taking planes, trains, and buses, but there was one form of transportation left: a boat. To get from Scotland to Northern Ireland, I would have to take some type of water vehicle. My cousin, who had traveled here previously, told me about a ferry company called Stena Line that went from a little village called Cairnryan in Scotland to Belfast, Northern Ireland. My route was planned! And I was so excited to take the ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast.

I had to find myself a way to get from Glasgow to Cairnryan. It is about a two-hour drive. I came across Scottish Citylink buses. They had a few different times throughout the day that took this route. The route starts in Edinburgh and goes to Glasgow, then to the Cairnryan port, so you can start in either city. The ticket prices varied a little depending on which city you are starting from but they are between 21-24 euros. I had to match it up with the schedules of the Stena Line as well. I found the schedule that would leave me about an hour between when I would arrive at the port and before the ferry left for Belfast. Since this was my first time traveling by bus and by ferry, I thought this was adequate time. The Stena Line ferry one-way ticket from Cairnryan to Belfast is 30 euros for the economy option.

Saturday, September 15th, 2018. My bus from Glasgow left around noon. I got to the Buchanan bus station way too early but I was nervous and excited to get my travel day started. I was a newbie trying to figure out what bus to get on. It was a little overwhelming, but I finally found what I thought was the correct bus. The whole time I was riding I kept second-guessing myself and my mind was spirling. But at last, after 2 hours of panic, we pulled into the Cairnryan port! I made my way to the terminal and had an hour to wait. A man asked if I had an extra charger and it just so happened I did. He kept saying cheers which I gathered as a way of saying thank you. Finally, it was time to embark on the two-hour journey across the North Channel.

Once I was on the ship, I couldn’t get over how big it was! There were lounges and shops and places to get food and drink. Once we departed the port, I walked around the ship. I started on the sun deck. It was a wee bit chilly out there, being fall time in the northern UK and with the wind, but it was so beautiful being out on the open water. After I was over walking around with a 20-pound backpack on my back, I went and sat down. There was a child’s birthday party going on in the main part of the ship. It was superhero themed and they were all dressed up as different characters. That was entertaining. It was a little over two hours to get from Cairnryan to Belfast. We arrived around 5:30. It honestly went by so fast!

If you find yourself wanting to travel from Scotland to Northern Ireland or vice versa, I highly recommend going by ferry. It was a great experience and super easy. Book your bus ticket from Edinburgh or Glasgow to Cairnryan on Scottish Citylink and your ferry ticket on Stena Line from Cairnryan to Belfast. You want to make sure to leave enough time in between the two and triple-check times. It only took me maybe 15 total minutes from being on the bus to waiting in the terminal, but you don’t want to be rushing. Sure, other forms of transportation might be faster or even cheaper, but going by ferry is always going to be my preferred method from now on.


Stena Line: https://www.stenaline.com

Scottish Citylink Bus: https://booking.citylink.co.uk/#/

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