World Travel News & Tips Brought to You by Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams! Live From Belfast Titanic, Newest Northern Ireland Attraction!
I arrived in Belfast, Northern Ireland today excited about my plans to go directly to the new Belfast Titanic exhibit that opened about 10 days ago, having flown from Newark (EWR) to Belfast International Airport last night. Our 9:30pm departure on United left 90 minutes late due to a technical problem that I’m so glad they fixed! Ground crew, including Esther and Schiovani who were as wonderful and personable as they could be, who were there to meet and greet us and Sanna, our Finnish Global Service crew member for our international flight was on board to Belfast were all just sensational and need special mention.
Notable differences in the service in the front of the United/Continental plane: the Business First Service we’ve come to know and love when Continental’s name and crew drew loyal customers like me to their service, are the big. . . I mean BIG screen TV monitors that are located on the back of the seat in front of you in Business First, the flat bed design of the seats that slide all the way down for maximum comfort accompanied by quilty blankets and large fluffy pillows, combined with the expected great food in-flight made for a great experience. And the in-flight entertainment always impresses me with tons of movies and shows to watch on an entertainment system that starts before the plan takes off, even before the door to the plane closes and ends when you are on the ground at the gate! I watched War Horse (hated the barbed wire scene!) and an Israeli film that I have to buy!
We landed, picked up our Dooley Car Rental, dropped our luggage at Dunadry Hotel & Country Club which is literally 5 miles from Belfast International Airport.. . make a left out of Dooley’s Car Rental place, another left following the signs to Templepatrick and Dunadry, and a right to Dunadry and just past Ellie May’s restaurant you’ll find Dunadry Hotel on your left! We left our luggage at reception and drove to the Titanic Belfast exhibit.
The Titanic Belfast building itself stimulates creative thinking. The displays set the tone of the early 1900’s in Belfast and the importance of ship building in the lives of those who lived here. The exhibits, including the memorabilia and the creation of a First Class stateroom and a 2nd Class stateroom with video projections of passengers talking and interacting in their staterooms added to the reality of what it was like to be on board. This is a Must Visit experience because there is no report that will give you the emotional connection to the Titanic, its grandeur and its tragic end plus all the individual stories of the the lives lost and saved.
This weekend, you will hear interviews on Travelers411 and Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams, heard coast to coast in the US with the Titanic Belfast’s CEO, Tim Husbands, and Director of Sales & Marketing for Titanic Belfast, Clare Bradshaw. Very exciting stuff so be sure to listen to your local radio station and remember that the shows stream live at sAbrams.com and are podcast as well!
One disappointment was that a reproduction of the famous stairway on the Titanic is in the Titanic Belfast is housed in the building. I didn’t get to visit it (although it’s not the end of the world as I have experienced the ones that are located in Titanic exhibits in the US like the one in Branson, MO, and I have sailed on a ship in the Mediterranean that has the same stairway on board so I have my souvenir photos from those experiences. I didn’t get to see the stairway because MTV is there producing some video and they had commandeered that area. No tragedy. . . I’ll see it another time. . .but will you?
When we left the exhibit to return to Dunadry Hotel & Country Club, we picked up a copy of a tabloid newspaper called News Letter and the front page story today is about the US architect, Eric Kuhne responsible for the design of the exhibit who, from the noteworthy description in the newspaper, thought that the famous stairways was going to be available to all visitors including those who did not buy an admission ticket.
Things must have changed since Kuhne went public on radio in Northern Ireland with his announcement of free passage to photo ops on the reproductionof the ship’s famous stairway at the Titanic Belfast exhibit because restatement of the facts are clearly in place. A visit to the stairway is not included in the general admission ticket (13 pounds sterling–about $21.00 at today’s rate of exchange with seniors and students rates about 1/3 less). The stairway reproduction is actually tucked away in the banqueting area which gives an added reason to have you next group, family or corporate benchmarking event in the catering and meeting room facilities of Titanic Belfast. Almost 500,000 visitors are expected in the next 12 months and many will likely be part of groups doing their entertaining in the banqueting facilities. Can’t you just see your family gathered for photos on that stairway for a reunion, birthday party or wedding reception? It almost makes sense to use the stairway as another hook to encourage group parties. Nonetheless, even I was looking for the stairway, especially since I had seen reproductions at other Titanic exhibits.
Lack of stairway experience notwithstanding, the cost of admission to the experience is worth the time and the entertainment value you purchase as exterior building and its interior creati!ve displays, exhibits and interactive experiences will send you off feeling you go more than you expected. And don’t miss the bistros if you get hungry and the Titanic Shop overflowing with books, garments, hats, trinkets and sassy Titanic memento jewelry. That’s another ride that you’ll enjoy!
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