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TITANIC BELFAST

showing all aspects of
THE SHIP THAT ONLY SAW SUNSHINE
THE FEW DAYS IT SAILED

reviewed by Andrew Johnson
photos courtesy of Titanic Belfast


You are actually there where it all took place over 100 years ago. The world’s largest Titanic visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast in Northern Ireland opened in March of 2012. Coincidentally, it can hold over 3,547 visitors at one time, the same number as the capacity of that well-remembered tragic ship that went down in the frigid Atlantic on its maiden voyage in March, 1912, after hitting an iceberg.


Construction of this wonderfully historic facility had the same timeline as did the Titanic 100 years before. The building is huge with, nearby, the Titanic Slipways, the Harland and Wolff Drawing Offices, and the dock where one can go to be where the ship was actually built and launched.
The story of Titanic is told from her conception, construction, and launch. It then takes you through panoramic displays with her sailing and tragic demise, with the aftermath of the sinking--the investigations and subsequent safeguards that were put into place—shown in detail.

The slipway where Titanic was launched

Sight, sound, and tales concerning the city and its people over a century ago give you the feeling of actually being there, including shadows of individuals projected walking by on the floor to ceiling huge photos, making them almost come alive. The floors also seem to come alive beneath your feet as projections quite pertinent to what you are experiencing add to the overall experience. Even though the exhibits have sound, I recommend the rented descriptive individual head phones which also guide you from one place to the other in the order you are to proceed. They also afford one so much more background descriptive material and information as to the experience at hand.I found the ride (part of the tour and not an amusement endeavor) that has you experience and explore the construction of these Olympic-class vessels a real highlight. One actually gets the feeling being there in the bowels of the ship with the sight and sound of construction.


Everyone involved in the construction, launching, and being part of staff of White Star Lines took great pride in whatever he or she did in this overall venture. Skill and craftsmanship showed in the overall design and actual building of these great sea behemoths. One can walk through the displays and actually see reconstructions of the rooms which the three classes had and the way they looked back then. There is also a 180 degree surround piece of cinematography that pans you up from boiler room to the captain’s bridge. As you stand there, you get an actual feel of being on the ship.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on the ride exploring Titanic's construction during their visit to Titanic Belfast.


Another major highlight of the entire exhibit, in my mind, was the huge window that went outside the facility and focused on the actual building dock. Suddenly, a super-imposed image of the ship appeared within the docking area, giving you the feeling of viewing the ship as it may have appeared in 1912. Then the image disappeared, bringing you back to the current time with the dock standing alone. A separate entity apart from this museum building gives you access to that very dock as you stand at the actual site, close up, of Titanic’s construction and launch. Also to be seen is the interior of the actual Pump House, a large facility, with the over 100 year old huge mechanisms that actually made possible the pouring of water into the construction area to raise the ships for launch. They were able to reverse the process to make it bone dry, draining out all the water for the next vessel’s construction.


Back to the museum, I particularly liked the touch and feel aspect of the exhibits including the different ropes used with various consistencies depending upon where they were used. You felt the strength of these binding pieces. Materials used at the time were also on hand, and so much more. Children will certainly like this hands-on experience, and I can vouch for the adults as well.

The aftermath--inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic.


The museum has no artifacts recovered from the ship, the way other Titanic exhibits have. It is felt that nothing should be disturbed or brought back from that final resting place. There are also a number of books and motion pictures depicted that speak of Titanic. I am a Titanic buff and admit that I gained a great deal of further knowledge gleaned from this trip “down memory lane.” The culmination of the visitor’s journey explores the wreck of Titanic, where the man who discovered the ship at ocean’s bottom, Dr. Robert Ballard, tells about it in the theatre on a huge projection screen. The spirit of Titanic lives on in the Ocean Exploration Center with footage from Ballard’s ongoing sea and ocean exploration. When you wish to stop to eat, the facility has a restaurant with servers and waiters wearing what would have been worn back then in such an eatery. Delicious food was to be had at not a bad price at all. The gift shop is huge and a must to visit. It has every kind of souvenir: books, caps, jackets, stuffed animals -- something for everyone. It was indeed difficult not to bring back various items as reminders of the great trip there.

Titanic remains exteremly fascinating in popular culture today.

If you have the least interest in the ship and its tragic end, well depicted by the various exhibits found in this very well-thought out creation of a museum, a trip to Titanic Belfast is in order. The people of Belfast I found to be most friendly, cordial, and helpful. Many cruise ships now dock near the museum, making it a highlight of their itinerary. There is also a ferry from Scotland plus numerous flights stopping at the airport that’s about ten or so minutes from Titanic Belfast. You won’t regret going. I highly recommend a day spent at the fascinating place called Titanic Belfast.


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