A day on the Irish Sea with a Dublin bay cruise

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 organized 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 from afar as seen from the Dublin boat tours leaving from the South of Dublin
Dun Laoghaire from afar

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 -egged friends: we don’t have a dog, but we made the most of the company of the black companion we found on board.

Cruising dog
Cruising dog

The boat has two decks and a covered area with a café serving hot drinks, Guinness and snacks.

We had come prepared with windproof 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 harbor and lighthouse, but soon the ferry leaves the sheltered harbor waters and takes to the open sea.

Dun Laoghaire from the sea
Dun Laoghaire from the 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).

Approaching Howth

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.

Dublin bay cruise howth promontory
Not a bad location for a private view of the bay! The people at the top left corner of the photo are hikers on the Howth cliff walk.
Ireland eye
Ireland eye
Ireland’s last lighthouse to get automated.

Once you pass the promontory, calmer views await you. Isolated villas slowly turn into clusters of houses and finally you approach Howth village, with its colourful boats and busy seafront life.

colorful fishing boats in Howth
I always loved the colorful fishing boats in Howth
Our Dublin Bay cruise finishes in Howth, where restaurants receive fresh fish every day from the many fishing boats (in the photo)

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!

Howth Lighthouse
Howth Lighthouse
You want to wrap up!
You want to wrap up!

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.

Loved this post? Share it or pin it for later!

15 thoughts on “A day on the Irish Sea with a Dublin bay cruise

    • Marta says:

      It’s actually really fun! There is also a round-trip cruise, but my kids love trains so it had to be the dart….

  1. Denise says:

    Never crossed my mind to do this and living only an hour and a half away from Dublin I really have no excuse! Must start planning some Irish home adventures.

  2. The Educational Tourist says:

    What a fun experience! We have been thinking of taking the kids on a boat adventure and Ireland is high on our list of places we want to visit. This would be a wonderful adventure!

  3. Ria says:

    would you recommend this cruise for people who never been in the cruise before?:)

  4. Jennifer (Dr. J) says:

    Thanks for sharing! I’m also based in Dublin and have been tempted to take a Dublin Bay Cruise. I was just a bit worried that it would be too choppy given how windy Dublin gets. Any concerns about taking this trip for those prone to sea-sickness? #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Marta says:

      I was worried about motion sickness too but the sea was calm and the ferry was really stable – I’m usually the one getting sick and had no issues at all. The wind is definitely something though: you do need a good jacket! I love that this post is making me know more people in Dublin 🙂

  5. Jocelyn says:

    Looks lovely! I haven’t made it to Dublin yet, but could see sailing in Ireland as a lovely day trip. We need to go back to see Belfast and Dublin 🙂

  6. Danika says:

    There’s something so romantic about those Irish greys! And that dog…. I’d take a cruise just to pat it! So cute!

  7. Linda Bibb says:

    Howth is lovely. We took a photo tour in that area a couple of years ago and your photos brought back so many good memories. We didn’t make it out onto the water, which is a shame. Cruises give one such a different perspective.

    Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  8. Packing my Suitcase says:

    This cruise must be beautiful during the summer!! What a great idea for a cruise, awesome that the let dog come along, I’m sure mine would love that 😀

    Thank you for linking up with #MondayEscapes!

Comments are closed.