I was a teenager when Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslet played their iconic roles for the movie Titanic. Similar to any teenager who had a major crush on Leo, I also watched the film a couple of times inside the cinema. And despite knowing how the movie will end, I still left the movie house with blood-red eyes after bawling like a baby. Of course, watching to see Jack dying as he tried to save Rose was one of the culprits but there were other tear-jerking moments in the movie, too. The elderly couple hugging as the water level rose inside their first-class cabin, the mother tucking in her children for bed despite knowing that it was their last, and the last inspection by Captain Smith before going inside the wheelhouse to wait for death were some of the most striking scenes (for me) of the movie.
Growing up with this fascination of the famous shipwreck, I have set my eyes on The Titanic Experience in Belfast after relocating to Dublin. Conveniently for us living in Ireland, all we have to do is take the 2.5-hour train ride and have enough energy to enjoy the rest of the day. For those traveling with small children (like us), I highly recommend staying in Belfast for a couple of days instead of doing the day trip. Belfast is a nice city and there are lots of things to see and do apart from the exhibit anyway!
Our family went for the tour on one of the many bank holiday Mondays during summer. We booked our tickets in advance and went to see the exhibit during my son’s naptime – a tip I (always) highly recommend to parents traveling with an active/easily-bored child like us. The exhibit is huge and took us approximately 2 hours to catch a glimpse of everything.
The exhibit started with a few historical snippets of the shipping industry in Belfast at the time. I didn’t use the audio guide since I have no intention of looking at the nitty-gritty details. Despite that, the displays were enough so I can understand that Belfast has a thriving shipping industry. Even before the maiden voyage (and sinking) of the RMS Titanic, Belfast was a famous hotspot for this.
The displays related to the Titanic started with a few showcases on the laborious conception of the ship. Introduction about the company (White Star Line) was included as well as information about her builders (Harland and Wolff). I definitely enjoyed fiddling on some of the interactive displays on the galleries, too!
Typical to historical exhibits like the Titanic Experience, it features a vast collection of items from the shipwreck. Replicas of the memorable grand staircase, cabins for passengers, and the lifeboats onboard the ship was also included as part of the exhibit. Seeing these personally were educational and interesting for me. And the way the exhibit was created, there were instances I felt a tiny tug inside my heartstring – especially as I move on the galleries related to the shipwreck.
Unlike other museums/exhibits I’ve been to, the Titanic Experience not only display facts about this famous ship or details how it sank. It features personal information about some of the victims of the shipwreck – crew and paying patrons included. Apart from that, the exhibit showcases the morse code messages from the Titanic before and after the collision, news clippings headlining the shipwreck (including court appearances), and stories how the survivors dealt with life after the incident. I guess reading the stories of events that affected other people’s lives and to read who they were, it is difficult not to feel anything. Make-believe video recordings were also featured as part of the exhibit making the entire thing a lot realistic.
Whether the emotional element to the gallery/museum was intentionally included – that aspect definitely left a huge impact on me. I remembered almost tearing up while reading and watching the clips part of the exhibit. And at the end of the visit, I can say that going to the Titanic Experience was definitely worth it. The combination of interactive displays and strategically placed galleries was a great way to keep visitors entertained. In fact, if I was not too worried that my son might wake up while we were still inside the museum – I’d definitely spend a lot more time or try to get closer to the displays.
For more information
Are you planning to visit The Titanic Experience in Belfast like we did? If yes (or if you are just curious to know more about it), visit the official website for more information.