So, you’re planning a trip to Belfast and the Titanic museum has popped up on a few itineraries (including mine). Is it worth visiting, even if you’re not a die-hard fan of the Kate and Leo movie?
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Titanic Belfast, as the museum is called, is located in a neighborhood appropriately called Titanic Quarter. The neighborhood is currently undergoing a massive redevelopment project with the goal of becoming a major commercial and touristic hub within Belfast. It is anchored by the stunning Titanic Belfast building that evokes not only the bow of a ship but also the essence of ice, two ideas irrevocably tied together. For the museum, I recommend buying your ticket online and skipping the long line.
Titanic Belfast Exhibition
The Titanic Belfast tour begins at the top of the dazzlingly-designed building and the exhibits descend appropriately, as the ship descended on its fateful night. The experience includes something I’ve never before seen in a museum-like setting: a ride that takes visitors, 3 at a time, along a track to show the history of shipbuilding in Ireland.
Another section of the museum sheds light on some individuals who survived the fateful night and some who didn’t. Not that anyone who hears the word “Titanic” needs reminding about the tragic loss of humanity, but I did enjoy learning the real-life stories of passengers, not just fictional Jack and Rose. This section also included interesting bits about the multiple investigations that occurred after the ship sank, while Ireland, The UK, and America searched for someone to blame for the tragedy.
There was a large section that featured replicas of the ship, and recreated versions of the various staterooms, from first-class to steerage. There was even a virtual-reality type of room that was like stepping up to the famous staircase.
One notable moment for me was the glass-walled room shaped like the bow of the ocean liner which looks upon the river Lagan. You can see the very spot where Titanic and other major H&W ships were built: the gray rectangle pictured below.
The conclusion of the experience brings the visitor into a theatre that has the illusion of being underwater. There is a movie playing that shows footage of the Titanic exploration efforts. It shows how the sunken ship looked when it was discovered decades ago, and how the ocean floor continues to change the remains.
In my opinion, it’s a good tour that shows rich insight into one of Belfast’s past great industries. However, it came off a bit like a PR stunt emphasizing the grandeur of the ship and passing the blame off of any H&W related employees, leaders, or financiers.
Other Titanic enthusiasts also recommend The Titanic Experience in Cork, Ireland. It focuses less on the ship’s origin and more on its demise.
The experience can take anywhere from 1.5 hours to a half-day, depending on the visitor. To answer the question posed in the beginning of the post: Is it worth visiting, even if you’re not a big Titanic fan? I think so—Given Belfast’s size and attractions, it is a nice way to round out a few days in town. It’s an enjoyable way to learn some facts and context about a tragedy that’s captured the world’s imagination for over 100 years.
As we all know by now, the global COVID-19 pandemic has affected travel in every way. Please refer to local ordinances in the country, state, or city, and look up the website of the museum, tour, restaurant, or hotel you are considering visiting.
All photos by Staci Jackson for the Voyageer.