Just in case you’ve forgotten recently, there are pros and cons to almost any aspect of life. Travel is no different, and graduate school is DEFINITELY no different. On one hand, these things combined makes life a little expensive and difficult. On the other (nicer!) hand, it opens up plenty of opportunities! For example, QUB’s Accommodation team work to provide a range of outings for all students to participate in every semester. With heavily subsidized tickets, the school trip to The Titanic Experience at Titanic Belfast was a trip I just couldn’t pass up!
A Run-Down of My Day at Titanic Belfast
One thing I love about ground travel? I can still see things going on around me!
For starters, I should explain that this wasn’t a day trip (or an overnight trip). Anyone living or visiting Belfast, a few hours are all you need to appreciate this exhibit. I met my group at school at noon, left school at about 12:15, and was happily waiting in line at the Titanic Experience at 12:30. I was back on the bus again at 3:00PM, having enjoyed every part of the exhibit along with the Titanic Store and Bistro 401 Restaurant afterwards.
The Titanic Experience at Titanic Belfast was wonderful. There are nine levels to the exhibit, running in chronological order. Level 1 starts the audience off in “Boomtown Belfast,” which explains the aspects of Belfast life that made it the perfect place for the RMS TItanic to be built. From there, you move through the shipyard, get a peek at the layout of the ship (and its furnishings), and eventually learn about passengers who did and didn’t survive the iceberg collision. There are various artifacts on most of the floors, and a short attraction that gives riders a closer look at the industrial work that went into the ship.
After going through all of the levels, I was happy to check out the more modern attractions on the ground floor. As would be expected, the Bistro was a little too expensive for budget travelers, but their carrot cake was heavenly! Most things at the Titanic Store weren’t as expensive as I thought they’d be.
Though the building is too big for a full view, it sure is beautiful!
As I said above, it didn’t take much time to go through the Experience. This would make a nice outing if you’re on a crunch for time, or would just like to get out of Belfast’s weather for a little while. Slight disclaimer here; I wasn’t bogged down by any children (though this is a family-friend attraction). I was able to go at my own pace, which meant that I dawdled over things that grabbed my attention, and merely viewed other parts of the exhibit.
At the top of the map/guide I was given as I walked into the exhibit, there’s a blurb that reads “Take a journey through Titanic Belfast’s 9 interactive galleries telling the story of the world’s most famous ship, RMS Titanic.” While the Experience definitely told a story, it wasn’t the type that I could sleep through. There are artifacts on six of the nine levels; interactive screens on walls and even the floor kept the youngest around me engaged. When walking through The Shipyard gallery, I found myself looking down from a height comparable to what the ship builders dealt with, and listened to the story of a young ship builder’s experience.
Though I didn’t use one of these guides myself, many of my fellow audience members did. The idea alone seems attractive to me; you’re given a headset in your preferred language (there are seven to choose from) that will provide a personal audio guide through the entire exhibit. I wish I could say more, but we’ll have to wait until I go back to find out how this is!
If you know me, then you know that I LOVE Thomas Hardy (in an academic sense). He definitely has a way with words, especially in bleak circumstances.
Luckily, my ticket to the exhibit was subsidized by my school. Otherwise, general admission tickets for adults run at £17.50. With my university student ID, I could potentially get a student ticket for £14.50, which is about $17.77. This might not seem like a lot to some, but it can limit those on a student budget. That’s not mentioning the extras that are around for purchase. While my postcards and magnets weren’t too terribly expensive, t-shirts and other memorabilia could be. Eating in the building would also throw the budget for a loop. My delicious slice of carrot cake with a bottle of water cost me almost £5! Desperate times called for desperate measures, but I’ll pack my own snacks next time.
Of course, the early afternoon on a Saturday isn’t the time to go anywhere and not expect a crowd. It was a little frustrating, considering this was a self-guided experience. I found myself stuck several times, unable to move on as I would’ve liked because a slower-paced person was in front of me. This exhibit does attract lots of international visitors, as well, which definitely made the experience interesting at times! Just remember to pack your patience and it’ll be fine.
There weren’t many good photo opportunities inside the exhibit; while I assume this was intentional, it made documenting my experience difficult. They do have signs posted that request “No Flash Photography,” which is very understandable (many parts of the exhibit have low lighting to set the mood). The truly unfortunate part of this is that many people completely ignore this request to get photos galore. So…on one hand, I was a little bitter about not getting photos. On the other hand, I was really annoyed that I kept being blinded by parents trying to get snapshots of their pre-teens.
The iconic H & W as seen from my bus window!
Where are your favorite museums? How do you approach Saturday crowds when visiting? Have you ever been to Titanic Belfast? Drop a comment below to share!