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Change in Plans in Northern Ireland

With the number of places cruise ships visit, there's always a possibility one of them will be a trouble spot.

Places like Northern Ireland. Specifically, Belfast.

This week, passengers on the Caribbean Princess had their shore plans altered to avoid trouble (or possible trouble)  between Irish nationalists and the police. When the dust settled, there were injuries on both sides of the street, none of it witnessed by visitors from the cruise ship.

For the most part, cruise line avoid the world's trouble spots. Cruises in and around the Middle East — habitually more volatile recently than Northern Ireland — have been canceled or re-routed to keep passengers from seeing first-hand the demonstrations in Egypt, as one example. And you always have the option of skipping a shore visit if you're concerned and enjoying the safety of the ship.

Sometimes, changing a shore itinerary, whether it's an excursion or a private (ad)venture, can be rewarding. On one of our visits to Cozumel, we wandered ashore with no game plan. We arrived the same time as a parade with a nationalistic theme. It was a parade by Mexican people for Mexican people. We're not even sure what they were celebrating but we just happened to be fortunate to see such a fun event.

In Northern Ireland, cruise passengers avoided seeing a nationalistic event that wasn't fun. Unfortunately, that probably meant they missed a chance to see Titanic Belfast, the impressive museum that was completed last year, 100 yards from where the famous ship's hull was launched.

The good and the bad…just like life.

Leslie Shaw photo

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
October 26, 2013
San Juan (return): St. Croix, St. Kitts, Roseau, Grenada, St. Thomas
Inside: $679
Cost per day: $97
www.celebritycruises.com

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