Author Topic: A day in Belfast - Stena Superfast, Titanic Experience, Nomadic  (Read 802 times)

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Offline Rob Lightbody

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Hi all,

Stena Line offered car clubs a special price of £39 return for the car and two passengers to make a day trip from Cairnryan to Belfast either this weekend or next (£59 for the car with 4 passengers).  Me and my pals jumped at the chance, and on Friday made the trek down the road (in horrific driving conditions) to a hotel, for a late night supper, overnight stay, and early start to the ferry terminal.

We crossed on Stena Superfast VII, and what a pleasant revelation it was too!  Modern almost cruise-ship interior, friendly staff, excellent fresh, well priced modern food, even the shop was pretty good - plus the huge advantage of a massive outside wraparound deck with more deck and seating up top - fantastic.  As we rounded the headland into the Irish sea, it was wild (i.e. fantastic!)  She was pitching and rolling but coped admirable and just continued across at 21 knots like it was nothing.  I honestly can't find fault with the experience on board at all - light years ahead of my last experience with P&O ferries a few years ago.

Then we headed straight to Titanic Belfast, parked beneath it, and spent about 90 minutes going round the museum.  In short, its superb, clever, thought-inspiring and moving.  Its compact but makes very clever use of its space, and its location (the tour bringing you into a room that looked down on the slipway was genius).  Other highlights were the clever "zipwire ride", the virtual tour of the interior captivated me and I watched it through twice, the display of the SOS messages was simple and effective, and the lifeboat just sitting alone in a room was also captivating.   Then to go "underwater" in the last section is genius too.  I thought the shop, however, contained some very tasteless items - it was and remains a human tragedy.

Then on to Nomadic.  Can't say I've ever been particularly interested in her, but I did vaguely follow her rescue back from France.  But wow - what an experience!  Again, fairly simply done, but every effective indeed.  The more time I spent on board (was meant to be 5 minutes, ended up about 40) the more I was drawn in.  My friends are only a little bit interested in liners and Titanic (although have been on QM2 with me) but thought it fabulous too. 

I'm afraid the weather, and time, prevented us from seeing the rest of the Titanic Quarter, but we did a lovely few hours in Belfast City including St. George's Market as a highlight (great food and great Jazz!) and a trip up to the castle for an early dinner (also superb) before heading back down to the ferry.

A few moments were spent out on deck on the ferry on the way back, where it was 3 degrees celcius with a biting wind, looking over the side and wondering what it would be like to go plunging in.  The Titanic Experience was exactly that.

A few moments have also been spent dwelling on what might have been on the Clyde.  A huge missed opportunity to do something - anything.  We have the half-hearted Titan Crane, with nothing else there except a college and now a Tesco and some flats.. Fairfield shipyard which is excellent but certainly not a world-class tourist attraction), and the Riverside museum which I'm afraid I think is just terrible.

Well done Belfast, and Stena Line.
« Last Edit: Jul 16, 2023, 11:32 AM by Rob Lightbody »
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Didn't see much point taking photos of the Titanic Experience and Nomadic, since so many other people have done (some people seemed to be experiencing the Titanic entirely through the screens of their smartphones while we were there....) however the attached photo is the only one I took of Nomadic.  Says it all.
Passionate about QE2's service life for 40 years and creator of this website.  I have worked in IT for 28 years and created my personal QE2 website in 1994.

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

I finally managed to see the Titanic Museum last month, although I did not have the experience of arriving by ship like you, Rob.

It is extremely well done, congratulations to Belfast for "milking" the Titanic fame in such a clever and fascinating way.

The building of course is beautiful in its own right.


The Titanic Museum
by seikinsou, on Flickr

The first few rooms of the exhibition were of great interest, focusing on Belfast at the time, its politics and economy and the importance of the shipyard for employment.

There then follows a great section on the construction of the ship, with lots of information and sounds and projection of pictures -- it is an all-encompassing experience, extremely well done. Rob sets it out so expertly above.

The ship and her passengers, and an idea of the luxury on board.

And then, the various circumstances (plural!) which caused her to sink, and the efforts to save at least some of the passengers. A matter still of controversy and debate, with a lot of fascinating information I had not been aware of.

The aftermath focuses not so much on the burials and the survivors (about which and whom we heard a lot during a QE2 tour in Halifax), but more on the efforts to locate the ship. It was a bizarre coincidence that, only a few days after that museum visit, the Titan submersible imploded, with major headlines around the world for a few days.

The experience of the museum can be quite overwhelming, with so many exhibits, sounds, images and moving pictures, that I eventually bowed out and needed a wee break.

By way of contrast, the visit to SS Nomadic (I took an almost identical photo to Rob's above) was much more relaxing.


SS Nomadic
by seikinsou, on Flickr

I knew nothing about this ship, but found her very pleasant as we explored the various facilities on board. She had been working as a first-class tender to Titanic (and other ships) in Cherbourg, and we found one of the volunteers on board, who was very knowledgeable and able to answer many of the questions we were left with after the Titanic museum. It was so pleasant to talk with a human person and obtain some answers!

Online Isabelle Prondzynski

It is interesting that Father Brown's photos receive a prominent place during the section on Titanic's all too brief service life... he being pretty much the only person to have documented the ship in pictures during her voyage between Southampton, Cherbourg and Cóbh.

https://www.theqe2story.com/forum/index.php?topic=390.msg121739#msg121739

Online Lynda Bradford

Thanks for the review of your visit to the Titanic Experience.  We have been to Belfast a few times but have not yet visited the exhibition.  However we aim to visit next months when we are on a round Britain cruise on QV.
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Online Bob C.

My wife and I visited there in 2018.  I agree, Rob, that the Clyde missed a golden opportunity.  IMHO, there would have been no better way to pay tribute to the Clyde's shipbuilding excellence and dedicated workforce, and preserve its history for generations to come.

Offline Rob Lightbody

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Enjoyed reading your review Isabelle. It certainly can be overwhelming, especially if it's busy which I suspect it is much of the time!

I mention in my review that it's sad the Clyde didn't have something and I've now remembered that they actually did have a clever small museum called "Clydebuilt" at Braehead shopping centre, but it's now a ship shaped donut cafe...
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Offline Peter Mugridge

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On a visit last month, I observed that there is a bit about the history of Clyde shipbuilding in the Riverside Museum, although I realise that's not the same as having a whole dedicated museum - it has to be better than nothing?
"It is a capital mistake to allow any mechanical object to realise that you are in a hurry!"

 

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