Review of a family day out on a Dublin bay cruise. How to get tickets, what to bring, what to expect.
The other day, we decided to be tourists in our town and organised an excursion on the sea with the kids: after studying the available Dublin boat tours we selected Dublin bay cruise, providers of boat trips in Dublin and day cruises in and around Dublin bay.
Please note: this review is unsolicited and unbiased and we received no compensation or discounts for it. Our opinions are, as always, our own.
Dublin lies on a bay by the same name, on the east coast of Ireland. It’s an incredibly varied coastline, stretching from the sandy banks of Bull island in the north of the city to the rugged promontories of Wicklow, to the south, and there is no better way to get a glimpse of its misty beauty than from the sea.
We have been meaning to bring the kids on a boat for a long time, so when we saw the Dublin bay Cruise ships would stop mid-October, we knew how to spend our Sunday: online booking made, in less than an hour we were on the Irish sea!
Dublin bay cruise review: Dun Laoghaire to Howth
Among the many cruises available, we chose the one that left at about noon, a 90 minute journey from the southern tip of Dublin bay to the Northern one (Dun Laoghaire harbour to Howth).
Ninety minutes seemed a good duration for the kids to enjoy it without getting bored and I was tempted by the idea of getting to Howth at lunchtime: Howth is a beautiful fishing village with amazing fish restaurants, so you see – I had a strong motive!
When we arrived at the boat the kids were overly excited.
We had booked our tickets online and we were able to board straight away, without queues or delays.
While we were there without buggies, but we noticed a few families with them and made a mental note about how helpful the staff seemed to be to get them on board and safely parked.
We also noticed that the boat was open to four legged friends: we don’t have a dog, but we made the most of the company of the black companion we found on board.
The boat has two decks and a covered area with a café serving hot drinks, Guinness and snacks.
We had come prepared with wind proof jackets and hoods, so we took our seats on the top deck, to get the best views. We were not disappointed.
The first views are of course of Dun Laoghaire harbour and lighthouse, but soon the ferry leaves the sheltered harbour waters and takes to the open sea.
From there, I had hoped to also get a view of Dublin city centre, but we were too far out. I was able to see the outline of the stadium and the tall towers of Sandymount, but my eyes were constantly driven away from Dublin towards the beautiful gray slate of the sea.
Soon, the Howth promontory (if you actually want to see the city, the best cruise to choose is the one going to Dublin port, but I think this cruise has more impressive views).
After about 20 minutes, the view changes dramatically. With the Howth promontory to your left and Ireland’s eye in front of you, the scenery here is wilder and greener, a perfect embodiment of the image of wild Ireland so many people (rightly) hold.
Once you pass the promontory, calmer views awaits you. Isolated villas slowly turn into clusters of houses and finally you approach Howth village, with it colourful boats and busy seafront life.
After Ninety minutes on the sea, we were ready for lunch and a steaming plate of mussels marked the perfect end to a great day out!
Some practical notes to go on Dublin boat tours:
- You can buy tickets online or on the spot. In summer, I highly recommend to book in advance
- This specific cruise is not a round trip but the ticket comes with a discounted DART ticket too (the bay railway), which is very handy if Howth is not your last destination. Important: Howth to Dub Laoghaire by DART is not a short trip so between the cruise and the train you can expect to spend almost a full day out
- What to wear: in October, we had windproof jackets and hoods.
- Information: the ferry had a PA system giving information about the main landmarks.
I hope you enjoyed the Dublin Bay Cruise review! Don’t’ forget to also check our or family guide to Dublin packed with tips and attractions for kids in Dublin.