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When I was in Ireland I took a day trip to Northern Ireland that allowed me to see Carrick-A-Rede bridge ( http://www.chasinghappiness.ca/blog/carrick-a-rede-rope-bridge ). One of the stops on this day trip was "The Titanic Experience" in Belfast. I wasn't actually sure what to expect but I knew I had to do it because a number of my family members are borderline obsessed about the titanic.
When you pull up to the building you are welcomed by a shipyard on your left over the river. The building is huge and built on the exact site where they built the titanic. As you walk up to it you are taken aback by the sheer size of the building. The replicated space is supposed to give you an idea of how grand the actual ship was. The space to the left behind the building is the launch site where they placed the finished boat into the water. Entering the building you a greeted with an almost fully open floor plan that allows you to see up to the top floor. This vast space is hard to wrap your head around when thinking of it in the context of a ship size.
There's a gift shop and small restaurant as well as a café on the main floor, however, I did not stop to tour any of these because I was far more interested in taking the short time that I had to actually enjoy the "experience".
The experience starts off with you receiving a ticket into the exhibit.
The ticket is made to look like the ticket that was given to people who board the inaugural sailing of the titanic. You are then lead to a photo op and up an escalator to the second floor where the official experience begins. You learn about the process of building the ship for the next two floors as you work your way up each floor. When you make it to the top floor there is a ride ( a moving car that seats up to 6) that takes you on a short journey through videos and interviews with workers who explain what it was really like building a ship of this size in the pre-labor standards era.
Hearing the actual workers talk about how cramped and hot the working conditions back then made you look at the ship in a different light.
After the ride you learn about the ship's décor, rooms and how segregated the different classes of passengers really were. This part of the exhibit really tries to give you a sense of how small, hot and overall uncomfortable the working conditions really were.
Having taken a number of cruises myself I was shocked to see the cabin sizes and differences between each of the different classes.
The first class cabin was, of course, the largest and most comfortable.
There are signs and information posted throughout the experience that inform you about everything from the number of people on the ship to the types of building materials utilized.
Close to the end of the tour you get to see some of the footage from when they found the ship and started the recovery process.
The experience is well worth it if you are interested in the history and want to know more. You could easily spend a whole day here learning about the company that built the ship and the voyage it made. You will also get to hear recordings from people who worked on the ship, took the cruise and survived as well as interviews with people who took the distress calls and were a part of the operation to recover the Titanic.
There is so much to learn and see that this blog post doesn't do it justice. If you find yourself in Belfast I suggest you take the time to check it out in person. It's well worth it.