ARE you fed up catching public transport to work? I am. Fare rises, traffic jams, Pepsi cans rattling around the floor of the bus. Enough already. So yesterday I decided to broaden my horizons – and catch the boat to work.
In the lead-in to Christmas, Dublin Bay Cruises are running a new schedule with their ferry the St Brigid bringing passengers from Dun Laoghaire right into the heart of Dublin – in through the mouth of the Liffey, past the tall chimneys of the Pigeon House, under the East-Link Bridge and docking at Sir John Rogerson's Quay, opposite the National Convention Centre.
It's an awe-inspiring trip. From the East Pier in Dun Laoghaire, you swing right – sorry, to starboard – and sail past the shivering swimmers at the Forty Foot, spotting a few seals en route.
A quick wave at the fishermen in Bullock Harbour and then the St Brigid turns and heads for the South Bull Wall.
Entering the mouth of the Liffey is something every Irish person should do at least once. My fellow passengers on the trip obviously agree, most of them having made the trip before.
Natalie and Niall, of Killiney, were bringing three-year-old Ewen and his one year-old sister Isabelle in to visit Santy, and thought the boat trip would make it really special.
Tibor, Clara and Peter, of Budapest, were also repeat travellers on the St Brigid and they loved the roll of the sea and how the city looked so different when seen from the water. (Tibor captains a boat on the Danube, so it was a bit of a busman's holiday for him.)
Our captain, Eddie Keane, clearly loves his job and explained how the 27-metre craft averages about 10 knots on the trip. "We slow a bit entering the river, as the big vessels have right of way. Right there at the Bull is the narrowest part of the channel, and they don't like boats passing at that point."
Dublin Bay Cruises is run by Eugene Garrihy, who also owns the Doolin-to-Inisheer ferries in Co Clare, and he started the Dublin part of the business last summer – a good time to start, he explains.
"We had 27,000 passengers in summer – those six weeks of great weather really helped. And we had great help from the three county councils, the three harbour boards and from the Dublin Port Company."
Still, just months before the start, he wasn't 100 per cent sure about it – and it was his daughter, Fair City actress Aoibhin Garrihy (she played Neasa Dillon) who convinced him to press ahead. "It's fair to say that without Aoibhin, there'd be no Dublin Bay Cruises," Eugene recalls.
Now it's full steam ahead for the cruiser, with new schedules planned for the New Year. Eugene is passionate about the role the Liffey should play in life in the capital. "It's the entrance to the city, the heart of Dublin
"It's the reason why Dublin was built and it's going to carry the city into the future."
I feel he's right. And it beats the hell out of sitting upstairs on the 46A.
For booking and times of Dublin City Cruises Christmas schedule, go online to www.dublinbaycruises.com or call (01) 9011757. And there are half-price discount vouchers on www.grabone.ie